Motherboards - Published on Wednesday, 25 June 2003 00:39 Written by Christopher Zell
|Motherboard chipset :||
Intel 875P (MCH) + 82801ER (ICH5R)
|Processor support :||
Intel Pentium 4/Celeron Socket-478, 533/800 MHz FSB
4xDIMM 333/400MHz DDR (MAX 4GB)
|Integrated graphics circuit:||
1x AGP 8X
5 x 32-bit bus master PCI
4 units, ATA 100/66/33
2x 150MB/s via the south bridge with RAID 0 support, 2x 150MB/s via Silicon Image circuit (RAID 0/1)
|Networks circuit :||
integrated in south bridge, AC97 Codec+S/PDIF in/out on the back panel
1x on the back panel, 2x via bracket
4 external ports, 2 internal connections for 2 port's brackets, totally up to 8 ports
~ 2000 SEK (Exchange rates)
As we can see
from the compilation above the IC7-G is packed to the brim with features offered
by Intel's new chipset and it doesn't stop there. This board is supposed to
be ABIT's flagship, at least until the release of a MAX3-board, but for the
time being there is a lot of "hush-hush" regarding the prospective
follow-up of the praised IT7-MAX2.
The icing on the cake is that ABIT has equipped the board with Intel's own GigabitLAN-circuit that are of very high quality, but is also expensive and this, of course, jacks up the price quite a bit. IC7-G is, however, available in a less expensive variant called IC7 where the GigabitLAN-chip is removed along with the extra S-ATA-controller. This takes the price down to somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 SEK, a considerably lower price.
|Price and Accessibility|
Since IC7-G is
a more extravagant version of the IC7 the price is substantially higher. In
comparison to ABiTs most prominent competitors like ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI,
we see that this price is without doubt in parity with the prices of the other
manufacturers. If you want to have a Canterwood-board with all available features
you will have to be prepared to cough up about 2000 SEK. A pretty hefty price
but "if you want the ultimate you'll have to pay the ultimate price".
The availability of the IC7-G is very good.
The board is listed at all of ABIT's retailers in Sweden so if you are a potential buyer you need not feel worried about availability, if the retailers run out of boards new ones will once again stock their shelves in a week or so.
The price is still a considerable amount higher than for example the IC7 model and not to speak of the Springdale-based boards on the market. This is one of the reasons no topscore is given, but then again, that's noting we expect of a Canterwood board.
|We compare price with equal products and also accessibility among swedish retailers.|
|Accessories and features|
The first thing
that comes to mind when you open the box is that ABIT has gone through a great
deal of trouble to pack its contents properly. The days when accessories where
thoughtlessly crammed into the box are gone. Instead ABIT has packed every
accessory in small, separate boxes and these days perfect order rules the
The physical accessories in this package consists of a rounded ATA100-cable, one rounded floppycable, two S-ATA-cables with matching powersupply-connectors, one P-ATA->S-ATA converter and a bracket with two Firewire- and two USB-ports. Including the USB- and Firewire connections on the back of the board we get at total of six USB 2.0-ports and three Firewireports. If you want to use the remaining two USB-ports supported by the board, you will have to acquire an additional two-port-bracket. Naturally a manual is included, a quick setup guide and drivers for the board.
The included software package is in traditional ABIT-spirit very thin and consists of Winbonds Hardware Monitor for temperature-monitoring, Adobe Acrobat Reader, DirectX 9 and a Low Format Utility used for thorough formats. Personally I'm not bothered at all by the spartan software bundle, I actually welcome it since bundled software seldom is worth unpacking. For those of us that are hung up on appearances a small bonus remains to be accounted for. ABIT namely tossed in a sweet casebadge in silver-steer components. The advantages of this will become clear in the next section where we go head to head with the layout.
When it comes
to integrated features the IC7-G is more than sufficiently equipped. Lets
begin with the 'G' that represents Intels own GigabitLAN solution. A costly
and gruesomely nice network-solution that furthermore has it's own software
to monitor the connections to the network circuit. S-ATA hard drives will
feel right at home with this board since there are a total of four S-ATA ports
with RAID support. Two of these ports are handled by the southbridge and are
only equipped to handle RAID 0 but the remaining two, that are controlled
by a Silicon Image circuit, deliver both RAID 0 and RAID 1.
Together with the two P-ATA100 channels this makes it possible to connect up to eight hard drives and this leaves plenty of space for future upgrades. The audio circuit is now integrated in the southbridge and provide audio in 6 channels with the help of the AC97 codec. This solution actually produces very nice sound and will do for everyone except the hardcore audionuts. Mounted on the back of the board we find optical S/PDID in and out connections, a parallel port and even a COM-port. Here we also find four USB 2.0-ports, one Firewireport and the network connector.
The bracket we mentioned earlier gives us two additional USB-ports and two extra Firewireports. The fact that ABIT has put USB- and Firewireports on the same bracket is a clever move since it would have been a real bummer if you had to use two bracket spaces in order to get additional connection possibilities. IC7-G is in terms of functionality a masterpiece that provides the user with the ability to connect most peripheral equipment. I have mixed feelings before the lack of additional P-ATA-ports. Personally I would have loved to see another P-ATA-channel but on the other hand the connection possibilities are so capable that one more channel probably would probably have felt like overkill. All and all the IC7-G board is rich in features and thanks to the new southbridge the board is spared from any extra surface-mounted steercomponents. The advantages of this will become clear in the next section where we bout the layout.
In all we think that ABIT has made a killer job with the IC7-G when it comes to features. The aspect of the accessories could be improved a bit. Keeping the price in mind and pondering the fact that this board is the company's flagship we would want to have seen at least two rounded ATA100-cables and one ATA->S-ATA converter more. This could assuredly be considered to be trivialities but it could give the board an additional boost. Anyway, the final score is bound to be quite high so the staff over at ABIT probably don't have to worry about their jobs just yet.
|We look at the amount and usefulness of included accessories and integrated features.|
Page 3 of 25