Taking A Closer Look
- Package Contents
The board comes packaged in a nicely designed blue, black and white box. Inside the box is a detailed User's Manual, two IDE cables, one floppy cable, a driver CD and a USB expansion header that enables the two extra USB ports. Abit also includes 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 is 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 SR7-8X 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 SR7-8X 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 under the CPU socket. 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 green passive heatsink, which is quite unusual of Abit as they often have an active cooler attached to the Northbridge on 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 board 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 SR7-8X touts is an AC'97 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.
It was slightly disappointing to see the lack of RAID and firewire support, even though the board's Soutbridge supports these two features. However, this makes it quite clear that Abit is targeting the value market with this board.