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Digital-Daily : Motherboard Reviews : abit-kv8-max3

Abit KV8-MAX3 (VIA K8T800) Motherboard Review

Author: Aleksandr Mitrofanov
Date: 13.03.2004

Abit KV8-MAX3
Chipset VIA K8T800
Processor AMD Athlon 64 (fsb 200MHz)
Memory PC1600/PC2100/PC2700/PC3200
HDD 2x UltraDMA/100
4x SerialATA(RAID)
2x SerialATA(RAID)
Additional 3 IEEE-1394
Audio AC'92 v2.2
8 USB 2.0
Gigabit Ethernet
Price: 140$

So, we've got a new MAX motherboard from Abit in our test lab. This is Abit KV8-MAX3 built on the VIA K8T800 chipset and is meant for Socket 754 Athlon 64 processors. Remember that originally the MAX concept was about the maximum expansion of features and options due to very high integration. First boards had a limited number of PCI slots (down to 3), increased number of ports for the USB2.0 and Firewire (e.g. - Abit AT7 MAX). Another distinction of MAX boards was a complete lack of outdated interfaces: PS/2, COM and LPT.

However, such a radical change of the customary design was taken by the users in cool blood. Since Abit is not a "powerhouse of the IT industry" like Intel, then demands from users had to be met in part. Originally, the number of PCI slots was increased (to 4), PS/2 ports were returned to their former place (mind you, not every user is willing to buy a new mouse and keyboard upon replacing the motherboard with a MAX series board). We can observe the consequences of these replacements by the example of Abit IT7-MAX2 v2.0.

Finally, Abit is producing third-generation MAX motherboards. At their expansion options, they are among the best. In particular, the number of PCI slots has grown to 5, and due to the additional 4-channel SerialATA controller the MAX3 series motherboards support 6 channels of this interface (with 2 more channels supported by the chipset). Finally, the distinction of MAX3 board is the integrated cooling system for the power supply module, dubbed OTES. We have seen that on the Abit IC7-MAX3 built on the Intel 875P Canterwood chipset. Now let's see how the MAX3 concept is implemented for AMD Athlon 64 processors.

Abit KV8-MAX3 Specifications


Abit KV8-MAX3


Abit KV8-MAX3
Processor - AMD Athlon 64 (Clawhammer) with the bus speed 200 MHz;
- Socket 754;
Chipset - North bridge VIA K8T800;
- South bridge VIA VT8237
- Communication with the processor: HyperTransport bus (16/16bit)
- Interbridge link: V-Link 8X bus.
System memory - Three 184-pin slots for DDR SDRAM DIMM
- Maximum memory capacity 3GB
- Supported memory types PC1600/PC2100/PC2700/PC3200
- Onboard power indicator
Graphics - AGP slot supporting the 4x/8x modes
Expansion options - Five 32-bit PCI Bus Master slots;
- Eight USB 2.0 (4 integrated + 4 additional);
- Three IEEE1394 ports (Firewire; 1 integrated + 2 additional);
- Integrated audio AC'92 v2.2;
- 3COM Gigabit Ethernet LAN controller;
Overclocking options - FSB adjustable within 200 to 300 MHz in 1 MHz increments;
- Adjustable voltages on the processor, memory and AGP.
- Voltage adjustment for the HyperTransport bus
- Abit SoftMenu
- Abit OC Guru (support for mGuru)
- Abit OTES
Disk subsystem - 2 channels UltraDMA133/100/66/33 Bus Master IDE (with support for up to 4 ATAPI-devices & RAID 0, 1, 0+1)
- Support for SerialATA (2 channels - VT8237, with support for RAID)
- Support for the SerialATA (4 channels - Sil3114, with support for RAID)
- Support for LS-120 / ZIP / ATAPI CD-ROM
BIOS - 4 MBit Flash ROM
- Award Phoenix BIOS with support for Enhanced ACPI, DMI, Green, PnP Features and Trend Chip Away Virus
- Abit FlashMenu
Miscellaneous - One FDD port, ports for the PS/2 mouse and keyboard
- 7-stage POST indicator
- IrDA
- STR (Suspend to RAM)
- SPDIF InOut
Power management - Wake-up on modem, mouse, keyboard, LAN, timer and USB
- Standard 20-pin power connector ATX (ATX-PW)
- Additional 4-pin power connector
Monitoring - Monitoring the temperatures of the processor, system, PWR, voltages, measurement of the rotational speed of the five (!) fans.
- Abit FanEQ (extended version - support for mGuru)
- Abit EQ monitoring utility (support for the mGuru)
Dimensions - ATX form factor, 244mm x 305mm (9.63" x 12")

Package

The board is packaged in a custom-made box.


Abit KV8-MAX3 Box

All the components are thoroughly packaged into two cardboard boxes.

Package bundle:

  • Motherboard
  • 1x software & drivers CD
  • One rounded ATA-133 cable and one rounded FDD cable.
  • Four SerialATA cables + 2x power adapters (with 2 connectors)
  • User's Guide + Quick Setup Manual in English
  • Manual on mGuru
  • A header for 2 additional Firewire ports and 2 additional USB 2.0 ports
  • SecureIDE Kit
  • A jumpers layout sticker
  • 1x cap for the rear panel
  • A drivers floppy for SerialATARAID controllers

Since Abit KV8-MAX3 is positioned as an exclusive product, this has positively affected the packaged bundle. In particular, in the box there are four SerialATA cables and two respective power supply adapters (4 connectors altogether). However, this number does not match the total number of supported SerialATA ports (as many as six). The same can be said about support for the USB: in the box, there is a header for two additional ports, with 4 more positioned on the rear panel. The board supports eight ports altogether - that is, the user would have to purchase a header for two ports elsewhere. But support for the Firewire has been implemented completely: 2 ports on the header and 1 on the rear panel.

Of note are the rounded cables made in a high-quality way (not the way it is on MSI K8T Neo :).

Among the standard components put in the bundle is the cap for the rear panel, a sticker describing the layout of jumpers, as well as a drivers floppy for the SerialATA/RAID controllers.

Of the nonstandard components is the data protection module SecureIDE.

This is sort of a ParallelATA=>encryption module=>ParallelATA adapter which provides for a complete data protection on a hard disk. This device is equipped with two identical keys inserted into the IEEE1394("Firewire") port, as well as respective interface cable.


The encryption module built on the ParallelATA interface for a board aimed at SerialATA looks somehow strange. As I already said in the review on IC7-MAX3, there is an impression that the module is included as an "extra item".

As regards the documentation, there is nothing to complain about: it gives a detailed description of all the jumpers and connectors; there is a description of BIOS settings and the procedure of driver installation. Much focus is given to the BIOS update and setting up RAID arrays.

Seasoned assembly operators will do with a brief guide, but the end user would find it interesting the read a leaflet describing the mGuru features.


Finally, the CD contents includes a complete set of drivers, a user's guide in several languages (English, German, French, Japanese and Chinese; all in the pdf-format) and a set of proprietary utilities.

Resume: for the relatively low price of the board (~$145) the package bundle deserved a firm "4.5/5" mark.

Content:

  • Specifications
  • Layout
  • Expansion options
  • BIOS, monitoring
  • Overclocking and stability
  • Performance and conclusions




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