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Abit KX7-333/KX7-333R DDR Athlon Motherboard
Last updated: 1/17/2004

IN THE BOXThe motherboard is attractively packaged in a retail cardboard box.  It comes with a motherboard book (User's Manual), 80-conductor/40-pin ATA/66/100/133 hard disk cable, floppy cable, one USB cable/bracket assembly, CD with software. The KX7-333R includes an additional ATA/66/100/133 cable and a floppy disk with the HPT 370/372 RAID controller software and drivers.  An IDE cable for a DVD or CD-ROM drive was not included.  The CD includes Norton Anti-virus...

USER MANUAL.  One of Abit's hallmarks is an extensive, well-illustrated motherboard book or User Manual.  The KX-333 is no exception.  The book is published on lesser-grade, but adequate paper. Installation instructions are quite good as far as motherboard books go.  They are more than adequate for most people with some technical knowledge and some experience assembling and troubleshooting computers.  The diagrams are clear and quite good, but some resolution and brightness is lost in the black and white pictures because of the paper quality and/or printing process employed.

The manual is also on the CD that comes with the motherboard.  This version is much more comprehensive than the book and has pictures in color.  However, the CD version is of little utility if the motherboard is being used to upgrade a computer, etc. and that is the only computer the user has.

There are no beep codes in the appendices. The trouble-shooting section is skimpy.  There is no block diagram of the motherboard in either version of the document.  These omissions appear to be part of a trend in chipset and motherboard product marketing: package them with lot's of glitter for "idiots" and use mushroom management for the rest... keep 'em in the dark and feed 'em what mushrooms eat.  The result, lack of information, makes a technician's (and reviewer's) job more difficult.  What's the big secret, anyway?

INSTALLATION. See How to Install the Abit KX7-333/KX7-333R Motherboard and RAIDing Windows XP: How to Install Windows XP on a RAID Array of Hard Disk Drives for details and instructions.  Additionally, see How to Build a Computer with an AMD Socket A Athlon or Duron Processor if you want to build a computer with this motherboard.  These articles are designed to complement one another.

GUIDED TOUR.  The KX7-333 measures 9 3/4 inches (24.8 cm) from front to back and 12 inches (30.5 cm) wide.  The board layout is fairly easy to work with during installation; however, the normal IDE hard disk drive connectors are located at the very front of the board where they may be inconveniently under or nearly under a drive bay in smaller cases.  The RAID IDE connectors (the yellow ones in the picture), which are present only on the KX7-333R, are also at the front of the board, but are located in a more convenient position to the left of where most drive bay cages would be in the motherboard cavity.  The floppy drive connector is in a good position at the front of the board to the left of the RAID IDE connectors. 

The CMOS battery is in an easy to get at in front right corner of the baord.  In keeping with Abit's tradition of "jumperless" motherboards, this one only has one jumper and that is the CMOS clear jumper located just to the right of the CMOS battery. The chip immediately above the floppy disk cable connector, labeled "Abit AC2001A," implements Abit's SOFT MENU III feature that makes this possible.

The memory sockets positioned well-clear of drive cables for ease of installation.  The position of ATX power connector on the right side of the board is OK for most cases  and well-clear of the drives and CPU.  The CPU is located right where hot air above it will be sucked into the power supply and out the case, and in a very good location for additional cooling by a chassis fans mounted in the rear of a case.  There is plenty of clearance all the way around the socket to easily install a large heatsink-fan, such as a Thermaltake Volcano 6Cu CPU cooler used for the computer we built with this motherboard.

There are four fan connectors.  Two are monitored and two are not.  The one just above the CMOS battery is easy to access.  Two of them are above and next to the ATX power connector on the right side of the board.  They may be difficult to access in a cramped case.  One of them would be used for the CPU fan as both have fan speed monitoring circuitry.  It would be easier to plug-in the CPU fan and zip-tie the cable going to it, before plugging-in the power connector, and putting the motherboard in a case.  One FAN connector is located between a large electrolytic capacitor and the AGP socket.  It is a little difficult to get at when the display adapter is installed.

The single USB header for two USB ports in addition to the two available at the I/O back panel is located on the left side of the board where it is easy to attach the USB bracket/cable assembly and run it straight back to the rear of the chassis and mount it where an ISA slot would be if present.

The motherboard mounting holes are not punched according to the ATX form factor specification 2.1 and older.  The third row of mounting holes from the rear of the board would have been better placed along the very front of the board to better match many popular cases, such as the Antic KS282 and SX840, and the AOpen HX45A.

The layout is quite good, but not the best I've seen.

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