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Abit's AN7 motherboard

The Athlon XP gets a guru

IT MAY NOT HAVE THE FLASH of its 64-bit brethren, but there's still performance potential left in the Athlon XP. This point was certainly proven by our recent look at overclocking the Athlon XP-M 2500+, in which we managed 2400MHz without much difficulty.

Of course, taking advantage of that potential requires the right equipment, and that starts with the motherboard. In our Athlon XP-M article, we achieved our greatest success using Abit's AN7 board. During the course of that test, we decided that the AN7 was interesting enough to deserve a look of its own. Wondering what caught our eye? Read on.

Tech specs
First off, let's take a look at the feature set of the AN7, written down in, ummm, blue and white.

CPU supportSocket 462-based AMD Athlon XP and Duron processors
Form factorATX
ChipsetNVIDIA nForce2 Ultra 400
North bridgenForce2 SPP
South bridgenForce2 MCP-T
InterconnectHyper Transport  (800MB/s)
PCI slots5 32-bit/33MHz
AGP slots1, 4X/8X AGP (0.8V/1.5V)
AMR/CNR slotsNone

3 184-pin DIMM sockets
Maximum of 3GB of DDR333/266 SDRAM

Maximum of 2GB of DDR400 SDRAM

Storage I/OFloppy disk
2 channels ATA/133

2 Serial ATA 150 ports via Silicon Image Sil3112A
RAID 0, 1 supported

Legacy ports1 PS/2 keyboard, 1 PS/2 mouse, Serial and Parallel ports
USB4 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
2 additional USB 2.0/1.1 ports via front panel expansion header
Firewire1 IEEE 1394 port
1 additional IEEE 1394 port via front panel expansion header
Audio6-channel audio via nForce2 MCP/ALC658 codec
analog front, rear, and center output
front panel mic and headphone jacks
optical digital input/output ports
Ethernet10/100 Fast Ethernet via RealTek RTL8201BL
Bus speedsFSB: 100-300MHz in 1MHz increments
AGP: 66-99MHz in 1MHz increments
Bus dividers (FSB:DRAM) 3:3, 3:4, 3:5, 3:6, 4:3, 4:4, 4:5, 4:6, 5:3, 5:4, 5:5, 5:6, 6:3, 6:4, 6:5, 6:6
VoltagesCPU: 1.375-2.313V in 0.031V increments
Chipset: 1.6-1.75V in 0.05V increments
AGP: 1.5-1.65V in 0.05V increments
DRAM: 2.5-3.2V in 0.05V increments
MonitoringVoltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring

As you can see, the AN7 has a lot to offer, much of it due to the feature set of the nForce2 Ultra 400 chipset. Six-channel audio, USB 2.0, Firewire, 8X AGP and dual-channel DDR400 support are all here. A few extra notables will make overclockers happy, such as the wide variety of bus dividers and the extremely large range in CPU voltage which tops out at 2.313V. Other highlights include the huge selection of FSB:DRAM ratios and a whopping 3.2V upper bound on the DRAM voltage.