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Abit's BD7II-RAID motherboard

For those unsure about the MAX

Price (street)US$126

ABIT'S MAX line of feature-packed, legacy-reduced motherboards created quite a stir when they were announced, and even reviewed, but some have argued that the market isn't ready to ditch PS/2, serial, and parallel ports just yet. There are apparently a lot of grumpy old men who still want to use their non-USB buck spring keyboards, ancient printers, and PalmPilot cradles. Luckily, Abit hasn't stopped making motherboards with a standard array of legacy ports, and they've just offered up the BD7II-RAID, based on Intel's new 845E chipset for its Pentium 4 processor.

The 845E boasts support for a 533MHz (quad-pumped) system bus and DDR266 memory, but Abit, as always, has a few extra tricks up its sleeve. You'll find onboard Ethernet, audio, and RAID on the appropriately named BD7II-RAID. We also found a way to leverage Abit's excellent SoftMenu III BIOS to gain more memory bandwidth than the 845E chipset is supposed to support.

So how does the BD7II-RAID perform, and just what kind of BIOS trickery did we have to employ to reach a fictitious memory standard called 'DDR356?' Read on and find out.

The specs
The BD7II-RAID features Intel's Brookdale 845E chipset and a number of integrated components. Let's take a look.

CPU supportSocket 478-based Intel Pentium 4 CPUs
Form factorATX
ChipsetIntel 845E
North bridgeIntel 82845E (MCH)
South bridgeIntel 82801DB (ICH4)
InterconnectIntel Hub ArchitectureĀ  (266MB/s)
PCI slots5 32-bit/33MHz
AGP slots1, 2X/4X AGP (1.5V only)
AMR/CNR slotsnone
Memory3 184-pin DIMM sockets
Maximum of 2GB of PC1600/PC2100 DDR SDRAM
Storage I/OFloppy disk
2 channels ATA/100
RAIDHighpoint HPT372 IDE RAID controller
2 channels ATA133
Legacy ports1 PS/2 keyboard, 1 PS/2 mouse,
2 serial, 1 parallel

Game port and audio jacks
USB2 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
4 additional USB 2.0/1.1 port via PCI backplane connector
AudioRealtek ALC650 6-channel audio
EthernetRealtek RTL8100B 10/100
BIOSAward, SoftMenu III
Bus speeds100-250MHz in 1MHz increments
MonitoringVoltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring

Apart from Firewire and a few extra USB ports, there aren't many features the BD7II-RAID lacks that you'll find on Abit's MAX line of motherboards. Of course not all integrated motherboard components are created equal, so let's take a closer look at the board and see what we've got.