Abit AN7 v1.0 Motherboard

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Detailed look with the “uGuru” – Brian Berryman

SUMMARY: Something old, something new, something borrowed, and uGuru

Our friends over at Newegg
have sent us a motherboard to look at, Abit’s
AN7 motherboard.

Box

Based on Abit’s highly acclaimed NF7-S series, the AN7 v1.0 builds upon the foundation there, and brings a few new things to the table.

uGuru sticker

Well? Do you??

The biggest of the new is Abit’s new uGuru feature set (microGuru is the literal translation, given the actual name). The uGuru chip, located in the lower right
corner of the motherboard just above the CMOS battery, is a Winbond built chip that allows some of the usual BIOS tweaking to be done from within Windows itself.

Abit’s first venture with the uGuru technology was with their AI7 motherboard, which is the uGuru variant of their rock solid Springdale based IS7 platform. It only made sense
therefore, when they turned their uGuru thoughts toward their AMD lineup, to meld it and their successful NF7 series boards.

uGuru chip

Big news? Yes and no.

While there have been various programs available for some time that will accomplish the tasks that uGuru encompasses, these have all been third party applications. This is a major
manufacturer wading into those waters.

But, Abit doesn’t just wade in though, they jump in with both feet.

Do they sink, or do they swim?

We’re about to find out.

Let’s start out by having a look at what’s in that box at the top of the page, and go from there.

The bundle

Of late, Abit has come up with a rather slick packaging for their boards, placing the literature and software, and the cables into a pair of separate boxes.

Open box

In researching this product, I read an early review of this item, and that person was “disappointed” with the bundle included with the AN7. This is partly because
Abit has included so much with some of their recent products, spoiling us. I can kind of see that person’s point of view….to a degree.

Documents

Included here; Quick Setup guide, AN7 and uGuru Manuals, Jumper Settings sticker, and driver disks

Cables

In the other box; IDE and floppy ribbons, SATA cables and SATA power adapter, and AN7 specific I/O plate

When I got my Abit IC7 (intel P4, i875 based) motherboard recently, it was packaged similar to the AN7 here. The cardboard used in the AN7 boxes is of lighter weight
material (big deal). The IC7 ships with rounded IDE and floppy drive cables, whereas the AN7 (as can be seen above) doesn’t.

Let’s be honest here though…. How many of you base your decision to buy a particular motherboard on whether or not it has rounded cables included?

I don’t.

It’s a nice touch if and when they do come with a particular product, but really shouldn’t be expected.

One could make an argument that the IC7, which is the low end of the related family (below the IC7-G, and “MAX” offerings) gets a better bundle than this board, which is more
the flagship of the Abit AMD based boards.

Should I check the price of tea in China now, or….?? =)

Next up; the motherboard itself

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In the bottom

What’s under those top boxes is why we’re here; the AN7

Board wide

As I mentioned earlier, the AN7 is based upon the NF7-S series platform. Let’s look at the tech highlights from both here, to get a feel for what’s
been changed, and what was kept.

Side by side

AN7 v1.0 <~~~~~> NF7-S v2.0

AN7

NF7-S

CPU support

AMD Socket A/462, All models

AMD Socket A/462, All models

Northbridge chipset

nVidia nForce2 Ultra 400 SPP

nVidia nForce2 Ultra 400 SPP

Southbridge chipset

nVidia MCP2-T

nVidia MCP2-T

Memory support

Up to 3GB total of (up to) PC3200, 3 slots available, dual DDR support

Up to 3GB total of (up to) PC3200, 3 slots available, dual DDR support

IDE support

2x ATA133 spec ports, IDE RAID not available

2x ATA133 spec ports, IDE RAID not available

SATA support

2x Silicon Image 3112ACT controlled ports, with RAID

2x Silicon Image 3112ACT controlled ports, with RAID

AGP support

AGP 3.0 (8x)

AGP 3.0 (8x)

PCI support

5x PCI 2.1, 32-bit, 33MHz slots

5x PCI 2.1, 32-bit, 33MHz slots

Onboard LAN

10/100 Realtek RTL8201BL based

10/100 Realtek RTL8201BL based

Onboard Audio

nVidia Soundstorm

nVidia Soundstorm

Other I/O ports

PS/2 keyboard and mouse, 1x parallel, 1x serial, S/PDIF input and output, 5 port audio backplane connections, 4x USB (2 additional available with mobo header), 1x IEEE 1394 (Firewire)

PS/2 keyboard and mouse, 1x parallel, 2x serial, S/PDIF output, 5 port audio backplane connections, 2x USB (4 additional available with mobo headers), 1x IEEE 1394 (Firewire) from mobo header

So, you might think that not much has changed, just looking at the tech highlights. Aside from some ports changing around, the heart of the board is all NF7-S. What makes
it different is some layout changes, and of course, the uGuru feature. Let’s take a close look at the board itself next, to see what those are.

Layout changes (the visual stuff):

This is where most of the actual changes are. We’ll divide the board into quarters, and see what’s new. Starting with the top left;

NE quad

Minor changes in this area. Carrying over from the NF7-S, we find the same three phase CPU power setup, utilizing identical Fairchild FETs and Rubycon capacitors. The header for the
CPU fan has been relocated to a somewhat more accessible area, between the CPU socket, and DDR slots (just out of this picture). The NF7-S has this just above the mosfets.

Also continued here is the protective material under the CPU socket lugs. Thank you… =)

The main ATX power socket is rotated 90 degrees, and moved slightly, and the ATX12 socket is in the same location, but rotated 180 degrees. It’s a bit of a bugger trying to get a finger
or thumb between these on the NF7’s to unplug either cord, and both latches facing each other didn’t help. These slight changes are a welcome sight.

The AN7 gets a new Northbridge chipset cooler, as pictured below (with it’s NF7-S counterpart sitting next, on the AGP slot);

NB sinks

While difficult to tell by the pictures, the newer unit is a big improvement in some respects. While still not the quietest fan around, the newer version has a slightly beefier structure
(heavier casting), more fan blades, and now has a 3rd lead on the wire, for RPM monitoring. When we get to the uGuru part of this review, we’ll see how that plays into effect. The electrical change
means also a change in fan headers, going from the two wire type to a standard 3 pin Molex. Good news for those who might upgrade this component, as 3 pin fans are a lot easier to find than their
two pin brethren.

More visible in the close up picture above, is the additional 3 pin header, just to the left of the Northbridge one. This is a carryover from the NF7-S, albeit moved slightly.

{mospagebreak}

ANT IO

The I/O ports get a reconfiguring in the process. Gone is COM2, replaced by a S/PDIF input connector, and the S/PDIF output shifts slightly over beside it.

New is the tower between the sound jacks, and USB/LAN connections. This tower includes a pair of USB ports, and a single IEEE 1394 Firewire port, bringing the number of
USB ports available here to 4 (versus 2 on the NF7-S). The new USB/IEEE 1394 connections are a trade off between the two boards, as the AN7 only has 2 more USB ports available
via the mobo header (the NF7 has 4 via headers), and the lone Firewire header on the NF7 was via a mobo header (which is now deleted). So the actual number of ports doesn’t
change, just where they’re located is.

SE quad

Looking at this corner of the board, we find only minor changes as well. Visible here is the afore mentioned relocated CPU fan header (just above and to the left of the big Winbond
chip, center right). The most visible change is appearance only, that being the blue/purple colored plastic used for the DDR slots (they were plain black on the NF7’s).

Those who run watercooling will likely already noticed this long ago, but the four holes surrounding the CPU socket are carried over as well. There’s a few heatsink/fan
assemblies that use this mounting as well. If yours does, it’ll fit here, just like on the NF7’s. The same issues apply with regards to the CPU socket and the bank of capacitors
beside it though. This doesn’t effect many cooling solutions, but it’s a good thing to be aware of.

Meanwhile…south of the AGP border;

NW quad

Here’s where we start seeing some of the layout changes. Unfortunately, the biggest issue is the one not changed.

Carried over from the NF7 series is the location of the AGP slot. It’s still located in the uppermost position possible. While this is a good thing in regards to available PCI slots
(you don’t get “penalized” and lose a PCI slot by using a big cooler on your graphics card), it still leaves the AGP slot interfering with the DDR slots. As before with the NF7’s, if you
use a physically long graphics card, changing RAM will also require removing the AGP card.

I ran into this issue when reviewing a FX5700 Ultra
recently.
This is what I’m referring to
here.

I understand that moving this (the AGP slot) would necessitate a major revision/retooling of this product, which would mean a
major expense for Abit. But this continues to be somewhat of an Achilles’s Heel for this platform’s layout. Hopefully, the next major revision will address this issue.

The big addition in this corner (literally), is the two digit LED POST monitoring display. Reminiscent of (and similar to) the units found on recent Gigabyte motherboards, this displays a series of codes
during boot up, that can be referenced if problems starting the machine arise. A very nice addition for diagnosing system malfunctions in the boot process. If nothing else, it’s some free case lighting… =)

BIOS LED

Another new addition is also visible here, a pair of 3 pin fan headers. One is located just to the left of the LED display, the other is on the edge of the board, below PCI 5 (along the right edge in
the picture above). This brings the total onboard to five, although one is used by the Northbridge fan by default.

The final (and busiest, changewise) corner next;

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The Hot Corner

SW quad

Here’s where the majority of the major changes are located.

The first one that jumps right out at you is the IDE sockets. On the NF7’s, these were located right about where that bank of
capacitors is. They’ve been relocated here to the edge of the board, and now lay flat on it as well (ala the Abit IC7 series). This is one of those changes you either love or hate.
I’ve read both viewpoints, and I am among those who really like them this way. I think they’re easier to get at, and allow the cables to be routed more efficiently, behind the drive
cages/rack, out of sight. Routing them this way also is a plus when it comes to airflow management.

IDE ports

IDE cable routing

A few other items shuffle around a bit;

Southbridge cu

The Southbridge gets moved slightly further “south”, if you will, away from the AGP slot (about half a PCI slot’s width). I’d really like to see
some form of cooling (active preferably, but ANY would be good) on this chip right out of the box. On the NF7’s, it’s been proven to greatly enhance stability, and sometimes sound issues
when overclocking heavily disappear when actively cooling this chip. While the Southbridge is still naked, moving it opens the door further for owner installed cooling solutions here.

I’ve got a heatsink/fan combo on my NF7-S Southbridge, that originally was the CPU HSF from an i486 system. Despite it being a very low profile unit, it just barely clears the graphics
card (as seen in the linked picture on Page 3 here) in my system. More room = more possibilities.

SATA cu

The Silicon Image SATA controller chip also moves a bit “south” from it’s location on the NF7’s, and the actual SATA connectors get moved a couple inches to be along side the chip. Functionally,
no change, but another plus for cable management. Not that SATA cables really hinder airflow much to begin with, but every bit helps.

Also changed here is the deletion of one of the USB headers, which I mentioned last page. There’s still one header here, for cases that have front access ports to use, and the standard Intel pin configuration
applies.

The front panel header is unmoved and unchanged.

The big addition in this corner is of course, the uGuru chip itself. The hardware end of uGuru is a Winbond made chip, that’s covered over by a holographic Abit/uGuru sticker. We’ll discuss that in a bit more
depth next. (The uGuru chip…not the sticker)

{mospagebreak}

The microGuru

uGuru chip

So, what does this chip really do?

In a nutshell, the uGuru entity is comprised of several components, some of whom have been around on previous Abit products, and a couple new items.

uGuru menu

Right clicking on the uGuru icon in the taskbar brings up the uGuru menu items;

uGuru is:

  • Abit EQ
  • OC Guru
  • FlashMenu
  • FanEQ
  • BlackBox

The chip above is the hardware end of it, the programs listed are the software part of it. The two of them together allow some of the usual tweaking that’s done
in the BIOS, to be done while in Windows, on the fly. As well as a couple of other tasks.

Let’s start at the top;

Abit EQ

Abit Eq

The Abit EQ interface

One way to describe what the Abit EQ software is/does, is to compare it to the very popular Motherboard Monitor program (amongst many similar 3rd party programs available).
Abit EQ’s function is to display various motherboard readings, temperatures, voltages, fans speeds, with the ability to manually manipulate what’s actually shown onscreen.

Above each set of “gauges”, is a pair of arrows. Each one opens up a different view of the same information. Shown here is the text/numeric interface. The other view is a scrolling bar graph
of the same numbers, showing variations and fluctuations of the readings in real time. The big drawback is the inability to save to file any data retrieved by Abit EQ. At least, directly.

You can always take a screenshot…

But this, however, isn’t the best (certainly not the easiest) way to track changes over a period of time. Motherboard Monitor has facility, with the “High-Low” readout included,
to track changes of all readings over any length of time desired. Included in the data (in Motherboard Monitor) is three key items; Start time, current time, and number of readings taken
(between start and current).

While the Abit EQ is perhaps more visually appealing, form over function isn’t the best solution for this task.

OC Guru

oc Turbo

oc F1

The OC Guru interface is the Windows based software used to do the “Overclocking on the Fly” as stated on the front of the box. The program is not unlike
MSI’s “Fuzzy Logic” software.

While there are two different parts of OC Guru, the “Turbo” portion is largely redundant. The only thing that can be changed in the “Turbo” mode is the
Front Side Bus setting (133.62MHz shown here). The “F1” portion contains a few more settings to work with, specifically, voltages.

Neither allows CPU multiplier manipulation.

In testing this out, I did find that all work as advertised. However, it wasn’t too keen on big jumps. For example:

The CPU I tested this out with is the one I use on my NF7-S board (when we get to the testing, you’ll see that in actuality, every component is the same as my NF7-S setup, except
the board, of course…but anyways..). It’s an XP2100+, Thoroughbred “B” revision cored chip, which runs at 1733MHz default (13 x 133 = 1733). I normally drop the multiplier down to 11x,
and raise the FSB to 200, for a nice even 2200MHz. It’s run there since I got the chip, stable as the Rock of Gibraltar.

Let’s say, hypothetically, I went into the BIOS and set the multi at 11x, but forgot to set the FSB to 200. The PC boots up to 1466MHz (default XP1700+ speed). Oops.

Oh nos!!!11 Somebody stoled my Megahurts!!!!11111 =P

Opening up the OC Guru interface *should* save me a reboot, by allowing me to raise the FSB from within Windows, without having to reboot and enter the BIOS to change the setting.
The operative word is *should*.

When I tried to make this large a change in one shot, I locked up immediately. Both times I tried it. This in turn made other things start acting very odd. After playing with this, I
starting having issues with BIOS detecting my hard drive properly. Clearing the CMOS (a few times, actually) squared that away. Suffice to say, as the spectre of data corruption (and even BIOS
corruption) loomed, I didn’t try for a third time.

If I set the FSB in the BIOS to 200, it would boot fine, to 2200MHz.

So, the OC Guru might be best for working with a new chip, where you want to very gradually increase the bus speed, probing for that highest stable setting. Going from 133 to 200 FSB a few
FSB at a time would take longer than actually rebooting and going into the BIOS though.

So, it’s got it’s uses, and it’s limitations.

{mospagebreak}

FlashMenu

Flashmenu

FlashMenu has been around for a while, and is an interface for BIOS flashing from within Windows itself. I’ve read a lot of opinions on these types of programs, and
most of the time people are leery of attempting this procedure in this manner. After a lifetime of “Don’t flash the BIOS any other way other than at a DOS prompt.”
it’s understandable.

This program is also available for the NF7-S, and I have tried it out on that board. It worked fine then, and I imagine it would work just as well with the AN7. I’ve
also used the “Live Update” offered with some MSI motherboards (which does the same as FlashMenu here), and it worked just fine on that platform.

I confess to being among those who’d rather a .bin file on a floppy myself. But I have tried it out in the past, and it’s a very easy to use interface. I’m not going to tell you
to use this, or not to use it, just that it’s there, and an option.

FanEQ

FanEQ

The FanEQ interface is the Windows based portion of the fan controlling application. It works much the same as the BIOS based FanEQ settings. Allowing control over the CPU and
Northbridge fans (or whatever you happen to plug into those headers), this has provision for four different profiles as shown here. This part of the uGuru package is the best of the bunch,
as it works as intended, without leaving anything to really be desired.

BlackBox

Blk Box

This, the last of the uGuru applications, is supposed to emulate the “Black Box” found in aircraft. In the event of a system crash, it can forward pertinent data about the state the system
was in as the crash happened. To quote
Abit’s uGuru webpage;

“ABIT µGuru is equipped with a special utility which allows users to record their system operating conditions by retrieving all the major hardware information from µGuru. When your system
runs abnormally or unstably, Black Box will automatically deliver “HELP” message to ABIT Tech Support Team via e-mail. Once ABIT FAE team receives the message, they can do trouble shooting much
quicker. Users also can send their own e-mails out to hardware vendors or their own IT tech support teams for troubleshooting.”

Across the top of the Black Box interface are a number of tabs, in which important, detailed system information can be entered. This information is part of what would get forwarded to Abit FAE
(or whoever you set it up to forward the info to).

I didn’t try this particular function out. I’d imagine it works as described. I will say this; In the process of researching this article, I came across more than one person raising the concern
of exactly what info gets forwarded. The train of thought was; “If it send this info out….what else (if anything) does it also transmit?”

Paranoid? Perhaps. I can’t see Abit including “spyware” in their application, retrieving data not authorized. They’ve got a bit too much at stake, if they were found to be doing this.

That wraps up the uGuru package. Let’s install this board and see how it runs next.

{mospagebreak}

Installation

Physically installing this motherboard is a straight forward procedure, with no real problems encountered, or tricks needed. Where I set this up in my main rig, which houses my
watercooled NF7-S board, it was extremely simple swap, even with the additional removal of watercooling components. When I set the AN7 up, I ran it using air cooling, however.
Long before I ever watercooled the XP2100+/NF7-S combo, I ran it air cooled. Switching over to water didn’t gain me any overclocking speed, only a reduction in temperatures achieved.

In other words, I know the CPU’s “limit”, and getting there can be done either way. It was easier to set it up on air for these tests, and knowing there were no gains to
be realized by trying to watercool the AN7 made the decision to air cool obvious.

NF7 coming out

Out comes the NF7-S. I simply tied the waterblocks/hoses up out of the way (and out of the airflow), and disregarded they were there for a while. I didn’t need the floppy drive for the testing
here anyway, so removing the cage entirely allowed room to reposition the H20 equipment there.

AN7 in and up

While this picture looks still, note the power LEDs, and the POST LED display in the lower left corner of the board (“20”). It’s quite up and running here. We’ll come back to this
in a moment.

IDE ports

I want to refer back to this picture (above) again for a minute first. Look closely at the left side of it. Where the IDE ports got relocated to makes the screw mount in this corner of the board
inaccessible. The hole right next to the port is where the screw would pass through. This was the only difference in mounting this board and the NF7-S. Not an incredibly big deal, just
something I wanted to note.

Firing it up, and into the BIOS

First fire

This is what you’ll see, just before hitting the power button

Carried over from the NF7-S are the twin power LEDs (on the right). Red indicates there’s power to the motherboard, the green LED beside it lights up when the PC is actually on. A nice feature, giving
clear indication of power status, before working on the system for any reason. Hitting the power button, we’re greeted by this;

BIOS splash

“Press TAB to show POST screen, DEL to enter SETUP”

This is the first time I’ve EVER been annoyed by an Abit BIOS, in any way. There is no facility to turn this BIOS splash screen off. And, chances are, by the time you can hit the “TAB” key
to show the POST screen, your PC is already thru the POST process. If you wait for the screen to disappear before hitting “DEL” to enter the BIOS, you’re out of luck too… Start hammering on the DEL key as soon
as you see the splash screen, or you’ll wind up in Windows (or at a “OS not found” error message).

It’s nice to be proud of one’s work, but failing to include an off setting for this splash screen borders on egotistical, in this man’s eyes.

Those sufficiently talented among us to hack into a BIOS and edit it might be able to circumvent this, but the rest of us will have to wait for hopefully a BIOS revision with an OFF switch.

Once into the BIOS itself, we’re back in old familiar territory. Abit BIOSes are always a treasure trove of tweaks, and this Abit/Award BIOS is no exception.

A bit of BIOS next;

{mospagebreak}

After hitting the DEL key (a few times, just to be sure), we’re brought into the familiar blue and white text of the BIOS;

Main BIOS

From here, we can see the BIOS revision denoted in the lower right corner, and all of the usual headings. Let’s look at a couple of them here.

SoftMenu

Softmenu

Abit’s SoftMenu feature is now in it’s third revision, and is one of the best overclocking packages available. The settings found here range from default,
to virtually ridiculous. Some of these settings you’ll never be able to use (300 FSB? Not anytime soon), and others you may not want to use (3.2v for your DDR? 2.313v
for CPU voltage?? YIKES!!!).

Abit uses their 5 bit FID (frequency ID) decoding on this board, ensuring if your AMD CPU is unlocked, you’ll have full multiplier control.

As mentioned, the FSB scales all the way to 300 FSB, in 1 FSB increments. Abit had the foresight to allow direct entry of numbers here, rather than having to scroll
through the entire lot of them to get to where you want to be.

The AGP bus frequency is set independent of the FSB, and ranges from 66 to 99MHz.

The CPU FSB/DRAM Ratio contains a number of settings, allowing these components to be run synchronously, or asynchronously, depending on what you use/how far they’ll
overclock. For example; if for some reason, you’re stuck using PC2100 that won’t overclock at all, and a CPU that hits DDR400 speeds, you can set these to allow the CPU
to run at 200FSB (DDR400), and the RAM at PC2100, or DDR 266 speed. Usually, synchronously offers the best results.

Voltage settings

This is where things can get a bit crazy (and downright dangerous) if mishandled. Some of these settings are extremely high, and without proper cooling,
and/or hardware not able to handle it, could be component lethal. That said…

How’s an amazing 2.313v CPU core voltage sound? That’s how high it goes, in .03v increments. vDDR that scales from 2.5 (default) all the way up to 3.2v in .1v increments?
More than enough to get any stick of DDR to it’s breaking point (and beyond).

The voltage setting for the Northbridge chipset now will reach 1.75v, if needed, to help get that last precious FSB.

Mentioned at the bottom of the SoftMenu screen is “Press F8 to OC on the Fly”. This will allow any changes to take place immediately, instead of rebooting for them to take
effect.

In trying this, I encountered the same problem with large changes in speed like I had with the uGuru OC Guru utility. Little steps went fine, big ones in any setting
(voltage or bus speed) caused the machine to lock up hard. Again, this is still good for probing slowly, looking for that highest stable FSB.

What’s really good about this “On the Fly” feature, is the ability to bounce back an forth between SoftMenu, and PC Health Status, and see how each change effects temperatures.

The BIOS Fan EQ

BIOS Fan EQ

Included in the AN7 BIOS is the uGuru FanEQ partner. This works like, and in conjunction with, the Windows based interface discussed earlier. Again, the settings are for the CPU and
Northbridge fans only (or anything plugged into those two headers), and allow for tweaking the fan speed at different temperatures, with different voltages.

The remainder of the BIOS settings are standard Abit/Award bill of fare. Good stuff, to be sure, but nothing earth-shattering either.

I began by setting everything up at default, and then installed Windows XP Pro, and then came back and gave everything my usual boost.

Into Windows, and Performance next;

{mospagebreak}

Once I was happy with the BIOS settings, I rebooted into Windows XP Pro.

The Test System:

  • Abit AN7 v1.0 motherboard
  • AMD XP2100+ (Thoroughbred “B”), running at 2200MHz (200 x 11)
  • 2 x 512MB (1GB total) Corsair XMS PC3200C2 DDR, running in Dual Channel Mode, 1:1 ratio (200 FSB)
  • Western Digital WD400BB hard drive (ATA100, 7200 RPM, 40GB)
  • nVidia GeForce 4 Ti4200 graphics card, 4x comparable, 128MB onboard DDR
  • AGP aperture in BIOS set to 256MB, 4X mode
  • 1024 x 768 screen resolution, 75Hz refresh rate throughout every test.
  • Windows XP Pro, SP1
  • nVidia Detonator v43.03 graphics driver

Looking back to some of my recent reviews of graphics cards, you can find that this is the
exact same configuration
I used then (with the exception of the motherboard used). In these tests, the remainder of the components are identical to those used previously.

As I discuss benchmark scores with the NF7-S motherboard, this link above is where that data comes from.

CPUID1

Besides being my current configuration anyways, this also serves as a good reference
point to balance up against, when comparing the performance of this (AN7) motherboard against the NF7-S v2.0 I usually use.

CPUID2

As I started running some benchmarks, I noticed a trend, so to speak, very quickly. The AN7 performs, plus or minus a couple percent, equal to numbers I’d gotten with the NF7-S
motherboard.

This is hardly surprising, if you think about it though. This board uses virtually identical components as the NF7-S; The same chipsets, same memory controllers, same…. you get
the idea. Looking back to the graph at the beginning of this article shows how little changed, technical-wise, and the benchmark numbers I received back that up.

A few of the numbers:

AN7 PC02 OC

Mad Onion’s (now Futuremark) PC Mark 2002

Again, for reference, with the NF7-S, I got scores of 6734, 5412, and 705 respectively. Within percentage points of each other.

AN7 PC04 OC

Futuremark’s PC Mark 2002

With the NF7-S, I got a score of 3704 in this benchmark. Again, right in line with each other.

While we’re running Futuremark programs, let’s look at one of their graphics benchmarks, their 3D Mark 2001 SE suite;

AN7 3D01 OC

Referring back to the data from the graphics card shootout again, we find this system, with the NF7-S, scored 12112 Marks in this benchmark. Percentage points apart, yet again.

Benchmarking continued, next:

{mospagebreak}

SiSoft Sandra 2002 SP1

Here we’ll look at a trio of tests from this popular suite:

Sand CPU

CPU Arithmetic

The scores in this test were:

  • 6011 MIPS
  • 3025 MFLOPS

Sand CPU Multi

CPU Multimedia

The scores in this test were:

  • Integer aEMMX/aSSE 12081 it/s
  • Floating Point aSSE 13419 it/s

Sand Mem

Memory Bandwidth

And the scores here were:

  • RAM Int Buffered aEMMX/aSSE Bandwidth 3052 MB/s
  • RAM Float Buffered aEMMX/aSSE Bandwidth 2859 MB/s

In a very literal sense, screenshots of these benchmarks from the NF7-S configuration mirror these, and could very well be interchanged. In fact, I had to double, even triple
check which images I used above, the uGuru icon in the System Tray giving these away as the AN7 set of benchmark scores.

In all honesty, that uGuru icon would be the biggest difference between the two.

But again, with the technical specs of both board being identical, expecting anything other than identical scores would be silly. I did notice that, on average, while the scores
mirrored each other very closely, the AN7 more often than not was the higher of the two scores.

How much higher? Almost a negligible amount.

If you upgrade from a NF7-S to the AN7 series board, and expect a large system wide performance increase, you’re going to be disappointed. You might see a slight rise in benchmark
scores (very slight, indeed), but this would be unnoticeable in real world performance.

For all intents and purposes, you could call the AN7 by the moniker of NF7-S v3.0, and be pretty close to the truth.

Not that this is a “bad” thing per se, as the NF7-S is an extremely good product. Loaded to the rafters with toys galore, and BIOS options to tune the board to very specific performance
settings, the NF7-S is a tweakers dream, an overclockers delight, and a multimedia powerhouse.

Thus, so too is the AN7.

{mospagebreak}

CONCLUSIONS

Box ID

So, did they sink, or swim?

In this reviewer’s opinion, neither. A more apt description, in this vein, would be treading water.

While the AN7 is built upon solid bedrock, the implementation of the uGuru technology is a bit on the rough, unpolished side. It’s not a bad thing, but it
certainly leaves room for improvement. Perhaps future BIOS and software revisions can iron out some of the remaining kinks in the uGuru applications.

Where does the AN7 hit, and where does it miss? uGuru, on both accounts.

First revisions of anything frequently have minor issues, that get resolved in forthcoming updates. I believe Abit can and will do this, with uGuru. Whether
they can do it through software upgrades, or it takes a AN7 “v2.0” to accomplish this remains to be seen. As it sits right now (v1.0), it’s not bad enough to not
recommend this board, but it’s certainly close enough to say keep a close eye on it. With a bit of work, Abit will have another stellar product in the AN7.

I’d like to thank Newegg
for sending this board out to evaluate.

Cheers!

Email Brian

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Discussion
  1. It's early and perhaps I was inattentive, but I failed to see any mention of what appears to be a change in how the CPU core temperature reading is derived. In post almost a year ago, I described the dilemma that Abit created and looking at the side-by-side pictures in Brians article, I see the ATTP1 chip is no longer present in the CPU socket well, nor does the thermistor seem to be present. It would be informative to know if Abit went back to porting the CPU thermal diode to one of the Winbond chip inputs.
    Hoot
    Unfortunately, the board has already been returned to Newegg, so I cannot definitively answer these two questions (CPU interface Enabled and High FSB, and porting the CPU thermal diode)
    The DDR I have doesn't seem to like 200+ speed (oddly, for PC3200 spec Corsair).
    I've tried a few different multis, and the highest I ever got remotely close to stable was 209 or 210, running the CPU/DDR at 1:1.
    With the AN7 being as closely related as it is, there's a good chance the same situation would occur, jAY. I honestly didn't push that, as I'd sort of tried it on the NF7-S, with no luck (but again, it might be my ram just doesn't want to play nice).
    I'll do a bit of experimenting further on my NF7-S, and if I read anything on the AN7 in regards to this or the thermal diode issue Hoot mentioned, I'll post any findings here.
    B.
    Originally posted by Mr B

    The DDR I have doesn't seem to like 200+ speed (oddly, for PC3200 spec Corsair).
    I've tried a few different multis, and the highest I ever got remotely close to stable was 209 or 210, running the CPU/DDR at 1:1.
    With the AN7 being as closely related as it is, there's a good chance the same situation would occur, jAY.
    B.

    That is exactly why you should have tried it. If you couldn't get any higher with the AN7 it wouldn't have told us anything. But if you could have gotten further it would have been nice to know.
    Don't sweat it though. No matter how much you test people will always want something more or something done diferent, we're greedy like that.
    Originally posted by Staz
    Don't sweat it though. No matter how much you test people will always want something more or something done diferent, we're greedy like that.

    yeah, what he said