AMD took a more aggressive stance in promoting its Athlon 64 processor this year. They rolled out the Athlon 64 3400+, dropped the price for the 3200+ model to $278, and introduced the cheaper Athlon 64 3000+ that costs just above $200.
This marketing policy will surely push up the sales of Socket754 processors, as they are now quite a good choice for building a mainstream or high-end computer system. So, the question which mainboard to choose for such a processor, becomes an urgent one. We shouldn’t be afraid of the allegedly short lifecycle of the Socket754 itself. AMD is planning to introduce faster models like the Athlon 64 3700+ for this socket and even then the Socket754 won’t die but move gradually into the low-end price range.
Not so long ago we tested 13 mainboards for Socket754 processors (see our Socket754 Platform: 13 Mainboards Roundup), but of course this is not the only choice you have. Many interesting products have appeared since then and one of them comes from the renowned ABIT. The Socket754 mainboard from ABIT has an aura of uniqueness about itself as it belongs to the well-known MAX3 family and features the new technology called мGuru. We thought we shouldn’t neglect this mainboard just because it had been late for our most comprehensive roundup. So, this article is dedicated exclusively to it.
Socket 754 AMD Athlon 64
VIA K8T800 + VIA VT8237
200-300MHz (with 1MHz increment)
Adjustable Vcore, Vmem, Vagp and Vhypertransport
3 DDR DIMM slots for single-channel DDR400/DDR333/DDR266 SDRAM
Expansion slots (PCI/ACR/CNR)
USB 2.0 ports
8 (4 – on the back panel)
3 (1 – on the back panel, implemented via Texas Instruments TSB43AB23 controller)
2 ATA-100 channels
2 Serial ATA-150 channels (VIA VT8237 controller with RAID support)
IDE RAID support
RAID 0, 1, 0+1 (Silicon Image Sil3114 controller)
Six-channel AC97 Realtek ALC658 codec
3Com 940 Gigabit LAN
ABIT OTES cooling system
Award BIOS v6.00PG
ATX, 305mm x 243mm
ABIT KV8-MAX3 is the only offer from the company for the Athlon 64 platform; ABIT has no Socket940 mainboard in its product list either. Anyway, KV8-MAX3 is sharply positioned as a toy for enthusiastic users. Well, Athlon 64 processors appeared just a few months ago, so other user groups haven’t had time to get accustomed to them. ABIT obviously wants to appeal to the enthusiastic user with the widest functionality and certain weirdness of their mainboard and don’t be surprised to see this thing selling at $160 and higher.
The accessories coming with the ABIT KV8-MAX3 are gorgeous. They include:
- CD and diskette with standard drivers and utilities;
- Round aerodynamic ATA-100/133 cable and a similar FDD cable;
- Four SerialATA cables;
- Two power cables for SerialATA HDDs;
- Bracket for the back panel of the system case with two USB 2.0 and two IEEE1394 ports;
- I/O shield;
- Secure IDE system that consists of a daughter card, a cable for connecting the key and two keys;
- User’s manual.
Regrettably, there is no second USB bracket with two additional USB 2.0 ports, so you cannot use two of the eight available USB ports, as they are not connected to anything. It means that you should buy a bracket like that yourself, or use the USB ports on your system case (if it has any ports). Certainly, ABIT implies that these cases will be used with their news board, because this way all 8 USB 2.0 ports will be active.