Taking A Closer Look
The board came in a nicely designed blue, black and white box. Inside the box was a detailed User's Manual, two IDE cables, one floppy cable, a driver CD, driver diskette for the High Point HPT372 IDE RAID controller and a USB expansion header that enables the two extra USB ports. Abit also include three pieces of software on the driver CD: Adobe Acrobat Reader, Norton AntiVirus 2002 and an Abit Hardware Monitor.
This is not the most elaborate software bundle we have seen packaged with a motherboard, however, you must remember that Abit are targeting the enthusiast market with this board and many enthusiasts are most likely to already own this software, and are just looking for a cheap, high performance motherboard - without the bells and whistles.
- Layout & Features
The Abit BD7II-RAID features a slot layout of 1 AGP, 5 PCI and 3 DDR DIMM slots. Most of Abit's Socket478 motherboards, except their MAX series, of course, feature a similar slot layout to the BD7II and the lack of ISA, CNR and AMR slots shouldn't be a problem for many of you as devices requiring these slots became obsolete long, long ago.
The ATX power header has been smartly placed on the right hand side of the DIMM slots. This is a great position for the power header because unlike previous board layouts, you are not required to run the thick power cable over your heatsink/fan unit, restricting airflow. The IDE and Floppy connectors were also smartly placed, allowing easy installation of drives once the board has been installed into your PC.
The Northbridge is cooled by a silver heatsink, which is quite unusual of Abit as they often have an active cooler attached to the Northbridge of most of their motherboards. My guess is that it ran cool enough without a fan attached and besides, I'm sure most of you can do without the added noise anyway.
The BD7II-RAID features ATA133 RAID support through the HighPoint HPT372 controller. This means the board provides support for a total of four IDE devices on the RAID controller, and another four devices on the regular ATA133 controller - giving a total of eight IDE devices. In my opinion, HighPoint manufacture some of the highest quality RAID controllers on the market and i'm quite happy that this controller has been chosen for the BD7II-RAID.
The board also features a 10/100 LAN port, enabled through a Realtek RTL8100B controller. This should come in very handy to many of you and from our internal testing, the controller actually performs quite admirably, even against PCI solutions. Another feature the BD7II touts is an AC97 audio controller. Providing only 2-channel audio, its sound quality is no where near as good as what you would be getting from a PCI audio solution, however, it is certainly sufficient for general windows use.