Abit's TH7II-Raid & Skt. 478 P4 CPU!
Setup for the next generation of Intel's Flagship

By, Dave Altavilla
August 16, 2001

 
All indications are that we are shaping up for a very busy fall here in the PC Hardware scene.  New Processors, Motherboard Chipsets and Form Factors, Graphics Cards and Graphics Chipset, are coming to fruition from various manufacturers and we get the feeling that a tidal wave of technology is upon us.  Perhaps the US and world economies have hit a proverbial speed bump but for sure, investment in R&D and next generation technology continues with vigor.

Adding fuel to the fire, Abit Computer has released a follow on product to their well designed TH7-RAID, Socket 423 Pentium 4 Motherboard.  Typically, Abit seems to like to let the competition lead the introduction of new platform and then enter the scene with a more refined and matured offering.  This time around the TH7II-RAID (noticed the "II" in there, as in the "second coming") is the first Socket 478 board to hit the market, as far as we can tell.  From our initial look at this new gem from Abit, the refinements seem to already be built in.  So, in typical HotHardware fashion, we put it through its paces to find out just how refined this board really is.

Specifications Of Abit's TH7II-RAID
A "Tweaker's" Socket 478 Dream
 
CPU

Supports Intel Pentium4 Socket478 processors
(400MHz System Data Bus)

Chipset
Intel 850 (ICH2) chipset Supports 400MHz (Front Side Bus)

Memory
Supports up to Four 184-pin Direct Rambus RIMM modules up to 2GB (PC600/800)

Ultra DMA 100/RAID
High Point HTP370 IDE Controller

Audio
AC'97 Digital Audio controller integrated

BIOS
SoftMenuIII Technology

"Abit Engineering" Overclocking Strips
Heavy circuit traces on the underside of the PCB, near the CPU socket, which add to stability while overclocking

Multi I/O
4 Channels Bus Master IDE Ports support to 8 Ultra DMA 33/66/100 Devices.

Slots and Expansion
1 AGP slot, 5 PCI slots and 1CNR slot

LAN (Optional)
On board Intel 82562 Physical Layer Interface
10/100Mb Operation

            Click images

 

     



Now, this is what we have come to expect from Abit, when it comes to Intel based motherboards.  The first incarnation of Pentium 4 based motherboards, was a little dry and left plenty to be desired in terms of system optimization features.  The TH7II-RAID is loaded with goodies that will attract die hard Techno-Freaks and Overclockers.

First and foremost, SoftMenu III is driving the BIOS, this means FSB adjustments in 1MHz. increments.  More on this later.  Of course, this a "-RAID" version Abit board, which means an integrated High Point ATA100 RAID Controller, is at the ready for various dual drive RAID configurations or two extra ATA100 channels, for up to 8 total system drives. 


Abit Engineering Makes It Debut:

Finally, this is the first we have seen of Abit's new "Abit Engineering" effort.  Here is what Abit has to say about this new approach...  

"ABIT users are people that push their boards to new levels.  Standards are not even an option but are simply numbers to blow by.  ABIT engineers are like our users in this way.  They take existing, already extremely overclockable ABIT motherboards and they modify them to do even more.  With the launch of "ABIT Engineering", ABIT is making these ABIT engineered modifications, standard features on certain ABIT motherboards.  Now these in-house modifications, the ABIT engineers have been using on their boards, are available to all of our users. 

Also, specifically with respect to the "Abit Engineered Overclocking Strips" that are featured on the under side of the TH7II-RAID motherboard, here is what Scott Thirlwell, Abit's resident PR Macho Man, had to say...

"The story is that an engineer did his own mod which included these strips. I asked everyone why they were on the board and it was almost like they thought they had done something wrong by putting on something they used, on their own mod devices. Anyway, I talked to that engineer and he said that with RAMBUS systems, the strips should increase overall system stability, especially when overclocking. He went on to say that during overclocking, this will also increase stability between all the devices and the board. How do you test this? The engineers don't really know either. They say that through use over the past year, they know it is effective. Other than that they have also run EMI Tests during regular usage and while overclocking.  The boards with these strips definitely came in with lower EMI than the systems without.

Well, what do you think?  Do you like the sound of all of this?  We certainly do.  Kudos to Abit for going the extra mile here and giving the end user a little bit of that "home cooking" goodness that was otherwise kept in house.

 

The Features Keep Coming:

Three USB connections and on board AC97 Digital Sound, round out the TH7II-RAID's feature list, nicely. 


 

The PLL used on the TH7II-RAID is from the same company that Abit uses for most Softmenu III designs, Realtek Semiconductor. 

     

Another very nice feature of the TH7II-RAID is one that was carried over form the original TH7.  The board has two small momentary button switches, for reset and power on functions.  This makes life easier for folks, like us here at HotHardware, that don't always install boards into a case for testing.  Simply plug in your cables, and power supply, hit the power on button on the board and she'll boot right up!

Let's get things set up and cranked up, shall we?

Intel's mPGA Pentium4, Proper Cooling and Setup