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Abit KX7-333/KX7-333R DDR Athlon Motherboard
Last updated: 10/3/2002

CPU SUPPORT.  According to Abit's web site the KX7-333 motherboard supports Thunderbird and Palomino (XP) core processors with 200 and 266 MHz FSB's through the XP 2100+ and will support future processors with these characteristics. This motherboard is relatively new and has not appeared on AMD's recommended motherboard list yet.

MEMORY.  The four 184-pin DDR-SDRAM slots PC1600/PC2100/PC2700 DDR DRAM modules for up to 3 GBytes of unbuffered memory or 3.5 GBytes of registered memory.

SLOTS.  The KX7-333 has six PCI expansion board slots and one 4X AGP display adapter slot. This is the second motherboard we have used that does not have an ISA expansion board slot. The ISA bus is now dead. There is no MODEM riser slot.  Good.  If you don't know what one is, hopefully, you won't have to.

I/OThere are PS/2 keyboard, PS/2 mouse, 1 printer, two serial, and two USB ports along the back of the motherboard.  The configuration fits all of the ATX cases we have reviewed to date.  All connectors are of good quality and color-coded.  The KX7-333 supports four USB ports.  Two of them are taken to the exterior of the case by the I/O back panel.  The other two are available from the headers on the motherboard.  A USB cable and bracket set is supplied with the motherboard to accommodate the header.  The board has headers for IrDa infrared for remote devices, wake-up on LAN (WOL), and wake-up on MODEM (WOM).

Noticeable omissions as compared to many competing products are onboard audio, a game port, and a header for two of the six USB ports that the chipset can accommodate.  Personally, I couldn't care less about that many USB ports and I would rather not have one-board audio for some applications such as shop computers.  However, the problems with onboard audio have now been licked by the major motherboard manufactures and it is a cost-effective way to provide acceptable PC audio to office and other users that do not have a need for high-end audio.  One thing we would really like to see, which is not widely implemented in competing products, but is supported by the chipset and available with some motherboards, is an onboard Ethernet capability.  That should be "standard' equipment on all quality motherboards now.

HARDWARE MONITORING.  Like most, if not all, recent motherboards, the K7X-333 does not fully support the Athlon XP processor.  This processor has a built-in diode circuit to monitor processor temperature and to shut down the system before damage can result from a defective heatsink-fan.  Instead of using this feature, the KX7-333 employs an inferior combination of the temperature monitoring capabilities of the Winbond 83697HF super I/O chip and a thermister mounted in the center of the socket A, which are a hold-over from previous motherboard designs and are necessary for monitoring and compatibility with older Thunderbird core processors.  Another diode next to the W83697HF monitors the system temperature.

Fan monitoring by the W83697HF is inadequate.  It can only monitor two fans and the jack that the Northbridge heat-sink fan plugs-into is not one of the ones that is monitored.  The processor heat-sink fan jack and the chassis fan jack at the front, right of the motherboard are the only ones that are.  The Northbridge fan jack and chassis fan jack at the rear of the motherboard should be monitored.

The CD includes Winbond's Hardware Doctor.  This spiffy Windows Utility allows one to see at a glance critical temperature, fan, and voltage settings and compare them to the actual values in real time.  Note the 42.5C/108F CPU temperature which is very good for an AMD XP 1900+ processor.  The utility would be even better if it allowed setting CPU shutdown parameters for temperature and fan failure.  As it is, those settings have to be made in the CMOS Setup.

There are three LEDs along the font of the board. D14 is lit whenever +5 volts standby power is available (the power supply is plugged in and is receiving power), D16 is a power indicator (the the front panel power-on button worked, the motherboard told the power supply to wake-up, and the power supply is producing the normal 5 volts DC), and D17 lights when the reset button is pressed (trivial).  Although nice to have, in comparison, the digital BIOS post LEDs on the EpoX 8KHA+ motherboard are a better troubleshooting tool.  Most motherboards have neither.

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