One could say the BH6 set the standard for enthusiast-oriented motherboards back in the day. Since then, many of its features have been copied and become the norm, improving the motherboard market as a whole, but making it more difficult for individual manufacturers to differentiate themselves.
Considering the BH6's legacy, I was a little surprised to see Abit bring back the legendary "BH" name for the BH7, their latest overclocking and enthusiast-oriented motherboard. With a name that invokes such poignant memories, the BH7 has some big shoes to fill. Fortunately, Abit has a few tricks up its sleeve.
Instead of throwing all sorts of integrated peripherals on the board, Abit has taken a more minimalist approach with the BH7 and focused on component quality and overclocking features. The board is based on Intel's 845PE chipset, but Abit claims the BH7 will work with the latest processors designed for Intel's new 800MHz front-side bus. With its minimalist design, Abit has certainly produced a unique motherboard in the BH7, but does it live up to BH6's legacy? Read on to find out.
Before posing the board for some pictures, let's take a quick look at the spec sheet.
|CPU support||Socket 478-based Intel Pentium 4 processors|
|North bridge||Intel 82845PE|
|South bridge||Intel 82801DB|
|Interconnect||Intel Hub Architecture (266MB/s)|
|PCI slots||5 32-bit/33MHz|
|AGP slots||1, 2X/4X AGP (1.5V only)|
|Memory||3 184-pin DIMM sockets
Maximum of 2GB of DDR333/266/200 SDRAM
|Storage I/O||Floppy disk
2 channels ATA/100
|Serial ATA||1 channel SATA 150 via Marvel 88i8030 bridge controller|
|Legacy ports||1 PS/2 keyboard, 1 PS/2 mouse, Serial and Parallel ports|
|USB||4 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
2 additional USB 2.0/1.1 ports via 5.25" bay expansion header
|Audio||6-channel audio via ICH4 south bridge/ALC650 codec
analog front, rear, and center output
mic and line in inputs
digital S/PDIF input/outputs
|Ethernet||10/100 Fast Ethernet via RealTek RTL8101L|
|Bus speeds||100-250MHz in 1MHz increments|
|Bus dividers||PCI: 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6 and fixed 33, 37, or 44MHz
DRAM: 1:1, 4:5 (3:4 available through low H/W strap setting)
|Voltages||CPU: default+5%-default+30% in 5% increments
DRAM: 2.55-3.05V in 0.05V increments
AGP: 1.6 and 1.6V
|Monitoring||Voltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring|
Lately, motherboards that integrate every peripheral device known to man have been all the rage. The BH7 isn't one of those boards. The board has no integrated RAID controller, only one Serial ATA channel, and no support for Firewire devices. One could, of course, add RAID, Firewire, and more robust Serial ATA support with add-in PCI cards. Hardcore enthusiasts tend to be picky about such things, anyway. We generally eschew cheaper integrated components, especially when it comes to features like audio and RAID.