Abit's IC7-MAX3
The Legacy Free, OTES Cooled Canterwood Board

By Dave Altavilla
September 22, 2003


You definitely have to hand it to the engineers at Abit Computer.  While many motherboard manufacturers are taking steps to differentiate their board from the masses, by bundling in gimmick goodies, like FrontX drive bay boxes and travel bags, Abit has been delivering breakout innovative motherboard designs, that call attention to themselves all on their own.  Abit's "MAX" series of motherboards was the first and currently the only design approach, that completely eliminates legacy serial and LPT ports, in favor of USB 2.0 and Firewire connectivity.  Pack in some rounded IDE cables, your standard assortment of SATA cabling, fashion on a killer chipset heat-sink and one would think Abit went the distance, to deliver something new and exciting in a motherboard.  However, the engineers at Abit recently decided to go a few steps further.

One area of instability, in overclockable motherboards for the enthusiast crowd, has always been power regulation and MOSFET cooling, in the CPU power circuit.  Pentium 4 boards, like the Abit IC7-MAX3,  these days are designed with robust multi-phase power circuits.  While these power circuits provide stable clean power to the CPU and DRAM, they also often times generate a fair amount of heat.  As such, case temperatures inside a highly tuned performance rig, can get to very uncomfortable levels, resulting in the proverbial "easy bake oven" effect for your Pentium 4 or Athlon CPU and motherboard.  It was in this area that Abit decided to go above and beyond the call of duty and designed their "OTES" (Outside Thermal Exhaust System) for the PWM (pulse width modulation) and power MOSFET (metal oxide field effect transistor) circuits on the IC7-MAX3.

We've shown you what the OTES setup can do for a hot running GPU like the GeForce FX 5900.  What can Abit's OTES do for a Canterwood Motherboard?  We're about to find out.  

Specifications of the Abit IC7-MAX3 Motherboard
Legacy free and easy

Processor
- Supports Intel Pentium 4 Socket 478 processors with 800/533MHz FSB
- Supports Intel Hyper-Threading Technology

Chipset
- Intel 875P / ICH5 RAID
- Support Intel CSA Gigabit LAN
- Supports Dual Channel DDR 400 with ECC function
- Supports Performance Acceleration Technology (PAT) function
- Supports Advanced Configuration and Power Management Interface (ACPI)

Memory
- Four 184-pin DIMM sockets
- Supports 4 DIMM Dual DDR 400 memory.(Max. 4GB)
- Supports configurable ECC function

AGP
- Accelerated Graphics Port connector supports AGP PRO 8X/4X (0.8V/1.5V)

Dual SATA RAID

- 2 channel SATA 150MB/s data transfer rate with RAID function (0/1) via South Bridge
- 4 channel SATA 150MB/s data transfer rate with RAID function (0/1/0+1) via Silicon Image PCI Chip

Secure IDE
- X-Wall Chip ensures privacy and confidentiality of your data through entire disk encryption
- Hardware secure key authenticates during computer booting
- Without the key, your hard disk can not be accessed
- Device Driver free, Compatible with all OS
- Zero CPU and memory utilization
- Ultra ATA 100/133 hard drive supported
- Automatic and transparent encryption/decryption
 

Audio
- 6-Channel AC 97 CODEC on board - Professional digital audio interface supports 24-bit S/P DIF optical In/Out

Gigabit LAN
- On board Intel CSA Gigabit LAN


ABIT Engineered Technology
- SoftMenu Technology
- FanEQ Technology
- CPU ThermalGuard
- FlashMenu
- TweakGuard
- ABIT FanSecure
- OTES Technology

IEEE 1394
- Supports IEEE 1394a at 100/200/400 Mb/s transfer rate

Internal I/O Connectors
- 1 x AGP, 5 x PCI slots
- 1 x Floppy Port supports up to 2.88MB
- 2 x Ultra DMA 33/66/100 Connectors
- 4 x SATA 150 Connectors
- 2 x USB 2.0 headers, 2 x IEEE 1394a header
- 1 x CD-IN, 1 x AUX-IN

Back Panel I/O

- 1 x PS/2 Keyboard, 1 x PS/2 mouse
- 1 x S/PDIF Out connector, 1 x S/PDIF In connector
- 1 x Audio connectors (Front Speaker, Line-in, Mic-in)
- 1 x Audio connectors (Center/Sub, Surround Speaker)
- 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x IEEE 1394a
- 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x RJ-45 LAN Connector


Package Contents

  • IC7-MAX3 Motherboard x 1

  • SATA Single cable x 4

  • User's Manual x 1

  • SATA power cable x 2

  • Quick Installatio Guide x 1

  • IEEE 1394 6P + 4P + USB 2.0

  • Support CD x 1

  • Utility Disk x1

  • Bracket cable x 1

  • Jumper Setting Label x 1

  • I/O Shield x 1
    Rounded Ultra DMA Cable x 2

  • SecureIDE x 1

  • Rounded FDD cable x 1

 


Ladies and Germs, if you were looking for "bling", it's pretty safe to say the IC7-MAX3 just about has it all.  We'll dig into the motherboard design shortly but a quick gander at the specs above and the noted package contents list, and we think you'll agree that just about every option you could want in a motherboard is covered.  Rounded PATA IDE cables, SATA power and data cables, a USB/Firewire port back-plate, a driver disk, installation and quick start manuals, as well as a "Secure IDE" data encryption board (more on this later), all come bundled with the IC7-MAX3.    Abit also includes of course, a custom I/O back-plate to adapt the IC7-MAX3's unique connector panel to any standard ATX case.  With 6 channels of Serial ATA, both with RAID capability, Gigabit Ethernet, 6 channel Audio, AGP8X, Secure IDE and of course "OTES", this board is decked out but good and we're willing to bet it overclocks with the best of them.  Let's have a closer look.

Board Design, Layout and Features