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ABIT KR7A-133RAID Socket A Motherboard Review

ABIT KR7A-133RAID Socket A  Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Abit has always had a warm spot in the hearts of overclockers because they openly embrace the enthusiast market.
 80% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: ABIT Mar 28 2002   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > ABIT KR7A-133RAID

RAID and Socket Heatsink Clearance Measurements

The KR7A-133RAID uses the High Point HPT-372 chipset which has support for Ultra/133 based (also 66/100) hard drives and can do RAID's 0, 1 and 0+1. Here's a brief description of IDE RAID.

IDE RAID 0 is not really considered a true RAID since there isn't any data redundancy. RAID 0 takes two drives of the same size/configuration and stripes them, meaning it makes one big drive out of two equal ones. This improves performance by cutting hard drive latency in half. Since the data is divided equally and written on two hard drives it also increases the data bandwidth by two. The reason it's not considered true RAID is because if one drive fails, all data is lost.

IDE RAID 1 on the other hand mirrors two drives of the same size, so in theory if one drive fails, the other will take over as the primary hard drive and the system can continue to operate normally. This is what is supposed to happen with a SCSI hard drive setup and it actually works pretty well there.

The IDE subsystem doesn't allow hard drives to be disconnected while the computer is still powered up and in use like SCSI can unless you have a special HDD tray. Generally, when one IDE drive fails the system usually locks up anyway. The data is safe since it's mirrored on the other drive which is the real benefit.

With IDE RAID 0+1, you need four hard drives of the same configuration/size. What RAID 0+1 does is stripes two sets of two hard drives, one set for a RAID 0 configuration and the other for RAID 1. What this does is offer the best of both worlds, the high performance of RAID 0, with 100% data redundancy of RAID 1. Hence the name RAID 0+1. The only downside would be the need for four identical hard drives.

Around the Socket: Heatsink Clearances

PCStats Heatsink Clearance Measurements
Top Clearance: 7 mm
Bottom (cam) Clearance: 10 mm
Left Side (arm) Clearance: 20 mm
Right Side Clearance 18 mm
Socket Mounting Holes: 4mm Ă˜dia.
Max. Heatsink Base Dimensions: ~77x94 mm

Note: Approx. measurements are made from the edge of the socket (not the clips) to the closest obstacle taller than the ZIF socket itself.

The socket is 51mm across, and 62mm from top to bottom.

Abit took the liberty to clear the area next to the CPU socket so that larger heatsinks such as the Swiftech MCX462 or Alpha's PAL 8045 have a good chance of fitting with room to spare. The only possible hitch we can see is that the top of the socket is very close to the top of the motherboard, so longer heatsinks might hit the ceiling of the case or bottom of the power supply.

Large Size Capacitors:

Just above the AGP slot are two rather large Nichicon 4700 microfarad capacitors running on a voltage of 6.3V. Staring with their KG7 line of boards, Abit has started to use larger capacitors in this area instead of the smaller ones found out the KT7/KT7A/KT7E to improve stability reportedly.

Located next to the Highpoint chipset is a rather unique Abit branded chipset which isn't mentioned in the users manual. A quick google search reveals that the Abit AC2001 chipset has a port 80 debug card built into it and include's Soft Menu III design circuits. We're not really sure why this chip is on the board since the KR7A-133RAID doesn't have any onboard diagnostic LED's for the port 80 card like those found on the Epox boards or even Abit's own TH7II.

Also, it is my understanding that Soft Menu III is built into the BIOS, so why they need custom IC is still a little bit of a mystery.

As you can see from the board layout, the KR7A-133RAID doesn't come with any onboard audio. In a time where onboard audio seems all the rage and every motherboard manufacturer forces this option on consumers, it was a rather refreshing change to see that Abit has not included any form of onboard audio - be it VIA's AC'97 codec or C-Media's 8738 hardware sound card. I know many of you really like onboard sound though.

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Contents of Article: ABIT KR7A-133RAID
 Pg 1.  ABIT KR7A-133RAID Socket A Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — RAID and Socket Heatsink Clearance Measurements
 Pg 3.  The KR7A BIOS
 Pg 4.  Overclocking and Benchmarks
 Pg 5.  Bechmarks: Winbench, Sandra, PCmark
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: 3DMark, Serious Sam, RTCW, Conclusions

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