A bit of red
Now that we've seen the board on paper, let's see it in pictures. We'll start with a shot of the board in its entirety.
With all of the fetures of the IS7, it's little wonder the board is pretty packed. One feature that jumps out immediately when you're looking at the board (besides the bright red PCB) is the IDE connectors, which are perpendicular to the connectors on most motherboards:
Personally, I like these connectors better; they direct the IDE cables away from the motherboard, reducing clutter. This orientation also allows you to squeeze the motherboard connector and the IDE cable together when you're installing the cables. I've seen boards where a tight-fitting IDE cable caused the board to flex a lot when I was plugging it in, so this is another reason to like these connectors.
The IS7's north bridge heatsink isn't gargantuan, but it looks up to the task. I like Abit's attention to detail here; they've gone to the trouble of wrapping the fan wires around the perimeter of the heatsink to keep things tidy.
Alas, the IS7 managed to commit a TR pet peeve by placing the AGP slot and DIMM sockets so you can't install or remove memory without removing the AGP card. Yes, there's a lot of stuff on the IS7's PCB, and space is tight, but telling yourself that won't make it any less annoying when you have to pull your graphics card to change out memory.
Here's a shot of the IS7's port cluster. The two connectors to the right of the serial port are the optical digital in and out for the onboard audio. There's also a lone Firewire port back here, as well as four USB 2.0 ports.
In case the four USB 2.0 and single Firewire jack aren't enough for you, Abit includes this backplate which adds two more USB ports and two more Firewire ports (one regular, one mini). If you need more than six USB ports or three Firewire ports, umm, wow. What the hell are you doing with all those ports?