Installation & Aesthetics
The KR7A comes in a newly designed box from Abit, which was first seen with their KG7 motherboard. The box is red, black and white and is sure to stand out on any retailer's shelves. Inside the box was two IDE cables, one floppy cable, a detailed user manual, a driver CD, a driver diskette for the Highpoint HPT372 controller and a USB bracket that enables two extra USB ports. Abit also includes a free copy of Norton Antivirus 2002 with the KR7A.
At a glance the KR7A looks quite plain, featuring a mediocre brown PCB. Unlike some manufacturers (e.g. MSI and Gigabyte), Abit have decided not to colour the PCB of their motherboards in order to separate themselves from the crowd. This will not be a problem for most of you as the only advantage a coloured PCB provides is the fact that it looks better than the average brown or green PCB.
The KR7A features a slot layout of 1 AGP, 6 PCI and 4 DIMM slots. An important thing to note is that Abit has decided not to include any ISA, CNR or AMR slots with the KR7A. This is a smart decision as not many people have hardware that require these slots anymore and they just take up space on the motherboard that can be used for other things. In the case of the KR7A, 6 PCI slots and an extra DIMM slot were included, which is something that you rarely see on motherboards.
The ATX power header has been smartly placed in between the DIMM slots and the CPU socket. This is a great position for the power header because unlike previous board layouts, you do not need to run the thick power cable over your heatsink/fan unit, restricting airflow. The IDE and Floppy connectors are also smartly placed; allowing easy installation of drives once the board has been installed into your PC.
There is plenty of room around the CPU socket for any exotic heatsink/fan unit you may have. I was able to install my rather large Globalwin CAK38 onto the board without any trouble. Another thing to note is that the KR7A features a rather long temperature sensor in the center of the socket. This long sensor ensures your temperature readings will always be accurate because the sensor is touching the bottom of the CPU.
Overall the layout of the KR7A was great. I did however, have one complaint about it. Due to the placement of the CPU socket, when a heatsink is installed it's clip sits right next to the power supply unit, making it quite difficult to install/uninstall your heastsink. Other than that, I'd like to give Abit a pat on the back for a great layout.