Features of the IT7 Max2 Rev 2
Packaging and Contents
ABIT's packaging of the IT7 Max2 rev 2 has changed from the original IT7 packaging. Its box has more of a racing theme. The unit is encased in a plastic anti-static box with a see through window in the front for the buyer to see their board in a bit more detail before paying the bucks for the product.
Once unpacked you get your hands on the extra that ABIT have been known for. Inside you get your motherboard, a very detailed manual stating all that is needed for installation and setup, an I/O plate since it is not a standard ATX port layout, USB headers, black IDE and FDD cables, Serial ATA cable, Driver CD and ABIT's own Serillel adapter.
Before we go on, for those who don't know what Serillel adapter is, we will give you a little recap. Serial ATA ports are now popping up on a lot more motherboards these days. Since Serial ATA is a new transfer method and uses a different cable system you can't just plug in your old Hard Disk into a new Serial ATA port. With the Serillel adapter, you are able to connect a standard IDE Hard Disk into a Serial ATA port. Inside the adapter is a Marvel Parallel to Serial ATA controller. This controller translates Serial ATA signals into Parallel ATA signals and vice versa allowing normal IDE on Serial ATA.
The board in layout is identical to the IT7 Max and Max2 motherboards. This layout has to be the most unique board design we have ever seen. Using a 1/4/0 (AGP/PCI/Riser) expansion port layout this board has the least amount of PCI slots available on the market today, but as you will soon see there is a good reason for this.
First off, we see a large gap between the AGP and PCI slots. This is to allow for larger coolers on the GPU's without loosing a PCI slot that you normally would with a five PCI slot layout board. Networking, Firewire and RAID controllers are all provided onboard, so this eliminates the need for PCI cards for these peripherals.
Placement of connectors has been well thought out with this board. The 20 pin ATX connector is located at the top of the DIMM slots, keeping the cable out of the DRAM and CPU's way. The four pin ATX connector is located at the top of the motherboard between the CPU and the I/O ports. This does keep the cable out of the way of the CPU, while it's not 100% perfect, it is much better than other Intel based boards on the market.
With the upcoming Prescott CPUs over 3GHz coming and needing a lot more power to run, a new power system is needed. The IT7 Max2 Rev 2 has a four phase power system to allow for cooler power operations, supporting future high speed CPU's.
Chipset - HT Ready
Driven by Intel's newest desktop chipset, the I845PE, this board has support for DDR-333, AGP 4x and the new Hyper-Threading technology for two logical processors on a single physical CPU. Coupled with the ICH4 Southbridge, you get USB 2.0, AC'97 rev 2.2, and LAN on a single chip. The Northbridge is cooled by a simple passive cooler. Since the I845PE is based on the FC-BGA design, heat is dissipated much more efficiently and does not require active cooling to run at standard speeds in a stable environment. Overclocking is another thing - Why ABIT would produce an overclocker's board, with passive cooling on the heart of the board, is beyond me.
Firewire makes an appearance
While it is not essential in today's market to have Firewire ports onboard (due to the relatively small amount of Firewire devices available) it is still a great feature to have. Firewire allows for transfer of 400mbps along a serial bus that rival the PnP support and reduces CPU overheads as compared to USB. ABIT has elected to use the Texas Instruments Firewire controller chip. This chip was the first commercially available Firewire chipset and it allows for two Firewire ports with support for 64 devices per port.
RAID and SATA also included
ABIT has over the past two years been a huge supporter of Highpoint IDE and RAID controllers. First used on the BE6 for ATA-66 support, ABIT has used nothing but Highpoint for their external IDE systems. The IT7 Max2 Rev 2 uses the HPT374 RAID controller. This controller allows for four IDE Channels for up to eight IDE devices in Parallel ATA mode. On two of these channels, two Marvel Parallel ATA to Serial ATA converters have been placed for converting the Parallel signals over to Serial ATA. This allows the controller to have two Serial ATA ports along with two IDE ports on the same RAID controller, this allows for up to six hard disk drives on this single controller.