ABIT: Overclockers wanted
When it comes to designing motherboards built for tweakers, ABIT is one of the first manufacturers that comes to most people's minds. ABIT earned this reputation with their SoftMenu BIOS implementation on the IT5H
-- the world's first jumperless motherboard. While ABIT has had a few misfires since then, in general the company has never looked back
This level of motherboard tweaking hit an all-time high with the KA7. Based on VIA's KX133 chipset, one of the major innovations offered with the KA7 was its powerful SoftMenu III BIOS. With newer BIOS versions, the clock speed of the CPU's L2 cache could be adjusted with one keystroke; perfect for overclocking your Athlon processor to new heights.
Not only was the BIOS interface the most powerful available; with the KA7 we were able to overclock our Athlon 750 to over 900MHz! Other Slot A motherboards we'd tested were unable to run the same CPU at speeds beyond 800MHz.
With all this in mind, giving the KA7 our Editor's Choice award was an easy decision for us to make.
Since the KT7 is based on the same award-winning design as the KA7 we entered this review with high hopes for this product. Did the formula for success with the KA7 live on with the KT7? We'll discuss all this and more further on in our review, but first we wanted to discuss the Socket A motherboard market in general.
The Socket A Market
First off, the easiest way to determine the elite of today's Socket A motherboards is pretty simple: those with clock multiplier control and those without it. To date, only three motherboards offer built-in support for adjusting the CPU clock multiplier: (which, for those of you who don't know, can be used to adjust the clock speed of the processor) the ABIT KT7, the ASUS A7V, and the QDI KinetiZ 7T.
All other Socket A motherboards don't offer clock multiplier adjustment and are therefore considered by the tweaking community to be less desirable products.
With the history of competitive products between ABIT and ASUS it's no surprise that both companies are offering feature-rich motherboards based on the KT133 chipset. Much like the classic Ford versus Chevy, BMW versus Mercedes rivalries in the automotive industry, these motherboard titans are used to duking it out with each other. We've been informed by sources within MSI that they may add clock multiplier control to future versions of the K7T Pro but we cannot confirm this.