abit KV7 - Page 4

..:: Layout: Northbridge Area ::..

The Northbridge is covered by a fair sized, orb-like heatsink fan assembly that should do an adequate job of keeping the chip running as cool as possible. Throughout our testing period, we never found the Northbridge to become very warm, so although this cooling unit is rather small, it does the job. When we removed the cooling assembly, we were happy to see that Abit has chosen to utilize some of the usual thermal paste for thermal transfer between the chipset and the heatsink. There was a fair amount of thermal paste applied, and it was all located in the center, core area of the Northbridge for optimal cooling.

The area around the Northbridge itself is quite cluttered, as we were expecting. The area to the right of the Northbridge doesn’t house many items, although the rear portion of the PCB certainly makes up for that. To the left of the Northbridge, we come across a lone, yet rather large capacitor, two three-pin power connections, and the main 12V ATX power connector. Now, given the size of the KV7’s PCB, I can forgive this positioning of the 12V ATX power connector, although I never have, nor ever will care for this location as it can cause airflow disruption over the CPU if the power cable happens to interrupt the flow of air throughout the case. I dislike the positioning of the top three-pin power connector as it is sandwiched between the capacitor and the ATX power connector. With everything hooked up, this could be a pain to get to if ever needed.

The last items of note in this portion of the motherboard are all located along the rear edge of the PCB, along the I/O panel. Here we find the Attansic ATXP1 chip, along with two yellow headers. According to the Attansic documentation, this ATXP1 chip provides support for jumper free overclocking, and auto recovery for excessive overclocking, certainly nice features that are to be expected on Abit motherboards. The two yellow headers both deal with giving the user the ability to wake the system via a USB device. If you’d like to look into such features, the Abit KV7 offers several ways of going about this, although rest assured you’re going to need a high quality PSU capable of handling a larger than normal amperage to do so.

..:: Layout: Expansion Slot Area ::..

The Abit KV7 features the now standard expansion slot setup of five PCI slots, and a single AGP 4X/8X slot. The AGP slot features the usually locking mechanism we're used to seeing on Abit motherboards, although this area also poses a problem. Due to the layout of the capacitors near the end of the AGP slot, it can be rather difficult to unlock the graphics card if you were in need of removing it. Because of the dual capacitors above and below the clip, when the card is mounted, removing it can require the user of an extra object such as a screwdriver if you cannot get your finger in enough to push the clip back, as was the case I experienced. This isn’t too much of a hassle for the end user, but I felt it should be noted.

Along the left hand side of the AGP slot, we come across a second Realtek clock generator, along with a 14.3MHz clock crystal. If we take a quick look below the rear I/O panel, we next will come across the VIA VT6103 Ethernet LAN chip which provides for the KV7’s Ethernet capabilities. There is also a 25.0MHz clock crystal to the left of the VT6103 which allows for support of the LAN controller. Other than these two items, this immediate portion of the board is rather clean.

As we move down the PCB, the next items we come across all deal with the KV7’s onboard audio solution. First, we come across the bright green, front panel audio header. I like the fact that Abit has brought this header farther down the PCB to a point where it shouldn’t interfere much with routing cables from the front of the case, to the audio header. Several times in the past we’ve seen this header located far too high on the PCB, too high to avoid any cable routing problems, but the KV7 shouldn’t suffer from this. Next up, we come across both the CD and Auxiliary audio connectors, along with the VIA VT1616 audio codec itself and its 24.5MHz clock crystal.

The last items of note that we come across in the expansion slot area are the system BIOS, and the Winbond Super I/O chip. This Winbond chip is responsible for controlling the various legacy ports such as the PS/2, Parallel, and Serial ports for example. It is responsible for several other tasks, but I don’t feel many of you are really interested in those so we’ll skip that. Under the fifth PCI slot, we come across the floppy connector. This is probably the one part about the KV7 that I dislike the most. Luckily, I don’t use a floppy drive unless absolutely necessary, but for those who do, this placement is rather strange and could cause airflow disruption unless you are cable to route the floppy ribbon cable underneath the motherboard.