Articles: Mainboards

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ABIT KD7-S: Features

This section won’t be long very long as there is nothing very outstanding in ABIT KD7-S to talk much about. It’s not because the mainboard lacks certain features, but just the features can hardly be called unique or exclusive. This is a well-done fully-functional mainboard, although devoid of FireWire. That’s a questionable solution, but on the other hand, FireWire peripherals are less widespread and also quite expensive.

However, this mainboard still does have one peculiar feature: fully-fledged six-channel sound. Many mainboards with a six-channel audio codec have just three mini-jack connectors, two of which are line-in and microphone-in by default. For six-channel sound output you must have three connectors, of course. So, you have to change the function of the two other jacks in the drivers so that they outputted the remaining sound channels, or use additional brackets (sometimes not coming with the mainboard) or connect the mainboard to appropriate connectors in the system case, which is not always possible. None of these methods is handy. In ABIT KD7-S, we have all five connectors required for true six-channel sound output and also an S/PDIF connector. That’s a very pleasing fact. However, it has its drawback: the back panel of the mainboard simply couldn’t accommodate four USB ports, so it has only two ports instead of four.

ABIT KD7-S: PCB Design

First things to draw my attention in the PCB were the active cooling system mounted on the North Bridge and four memory slots. I can’t definitely say how useful the active cooler on the North Bridge is. KT400A-based mainboards don’t generally suit for FSB overclocking because of a limited set of multipliers: you cannot reach high frequencies. However, the improved cooling of the chipset may help during the “approved” overclocking in system cases with poor ventilation. The chipset fan of ABIT KD7-S is not too noisy. When the mainboard is installed inside the system case, you won’t probably hear it at all.

As for the four memory slots, I had some concerns about them. All other mainboards we review today have only three DIMM slots, and I thought the fourth one was added by ABIT just to make an impression and was afraid to discover some instability with four memory modules installed. I was wrong. Plugging in four memory modules (three Corsair XMS3200C2 and one Corsair XMS3500C2) and thus having 1GB of memory, I had no stability- or performance-related issues. By the way, the memory power supply circuit is impulse as well as in AOpen AK77-400 Max, which may be needed for normal operation of four memory modules. Besides, ABIT KD7-S carries an additional 12V power connector.

I would also like to say a few words about the opportunity ABIT mainboard offers to set any bus frequency you like (within the allowed frequencies range, of course) without any manipulations with the jumper set. At first sight this seems to be a really easy task to fulfill, but five mainboards of the six tested today didn’t have this option. By the way, it is very convenient to work with the Clear CMOS jumper on ABIT KD7 mainboard, because it has a special tail, which makes all manipulations with the cap much easier.

The layout of onboard connectors is good enough. I don’t only like the primary ATX connector set at the front. As a result, the mainboard power supply cable will go next to (in some system cases, above) the CPU socket hindering proper airflow and threatening to get inside the CPU cooler blades. Well, this is a bit of exaggeration, of course, still I think it would be better if they pushed the CPU power connector to the front and the mainboard one – to the back and below. Overall, I grade the PCB design of ABIT KD7-S as good.

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