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The layout
There's only so much motherboard real estate to go around, and Abit has packed a fearsome number of peripherals onto IT7 MAX. I pity the engineers who no doubt toiled day and night trying to fit it all in, but they did a pretty good job.

"Packed" doesn't even begin to describe the IT7 board

Unlike the AT7 MAX, the IT7 MAX features four 32-bit PCI slots. You may never fill all the slots, but having four means that you can at least leave a little more space around whatever cards you do decide to add in.

Plenty of room for your GeForce4 Ti 4600

The IT7 MAX has loads of room behind the AGP slot if you're looking to slide in a massive GeForce4 Ti 4600 graphics card. Given that Abit makes its own GeForce4 Ti 4600 board, it's no surprise that this motherboard can accommodate it. Amazingly enough, there's even enough room to open the DIMM slots with a video card installed, though just barely.

One extra DIMM from Abit

Like just about every other Abit board out there, the IT7 MAX gives you one more DIMM slot than you might expect. The 845E chipset's specs only call for two DIMM slots, but the IT7 MAX has three. The extra DIMM slot won't let you use more than the 845E's maximum of 2GB of system memory, and the 845E's lack of address lines means you're going to have to use a single-sided DIMM in that third slot. Still, it's an extra bonus feature from Abit, and I'm certainly not going to complain about being able to throw in an extra DIMM, even if it does have to be single sided.

Lots of room around the socket

The Pentium 4's new heat sink retention system is great, and I've yet to see a Pentium 4 board that has a problem with it. If the heat sink fits into the retention cradle, it will fit on the IT7 MAX easily.

The 845E chipset lurks beneath a giant heat sink

The 845E comes specced with a massive passive heat sink, which is at least more comforting than a smaller heat sink with a fan that could die at some point. Unlike the 845G, the 845E doesn't officially support DDR333 memory, which is a bit of a drag. However, as we'll see in just a minute, Abit provides a handy workaround if you crave a faster memory bus.

A potpourri of ports

You won't find PS/2, serial, or parallel ports on the IT7 MAX, but you will find a gaggle of other ports serving the IT7 MAX's integrated peripherals. Firewire and an S/PDIF audio output are more notable inclusions, especially for multimedia types.

This wild array of ports necessitates a unique back plate for your case, which Abit includes.