Overclocking One of the more enjoyable portions of the review, we come to the overclocking section. How does the IC7-G rank in the overclocking department? Well lets just put it this way, I was extremely impressed with the CPU increase we've seen here today. Lets take a look at the IC7-G running the new Intel 3.0c 800MHz FSB chip.
CPU-Z shows a core speed of 3006.8MHz, 15x multiplier, 200.5MHz FSB and a BUS SPeeD of 801.8MHz. We also see the P4 HT emblem emblazoned on the top indicating we are indeed running with Hyper-Threading enabled. One of Intel's latest advantages making your experience even faster by enabling the processor to execute two threads in parallel. So software will run more efficiently and multitasking becomes more effective than ever before. Here is a shot of the Processor Selection below that gives a representation of the 2 CPU's.
Mainboard information below detailing the 875P Chipset, Revision, BIOS and more.
Optimal Memory settings for the OCZ 3200 EL Platinum
3.6GHz was simply the fastest I could get out of this CPU. With stock cooling and at 1.675v, that's not too shabby. 3.6G was not stable however but I could get into windows and perform a few functions before I would get a lockup or complete reboot of the system. 3588MHz was a bit more stable, however not enough to run any CPU or 3D Intensive benchmarks. At 238MHz FSB or 3570MHz the system was stable. Also checkout the memory settings. I've worked closely with OCZ Engineering to obtain the fastest settings for running at a high FSB. Apparently due to the way Intel is handling their memory settings on Canterwood, timings should run at the same performance and better stability at a ras to cas of 3. The OCZ 3200 EL Plat is only rated at 200MHz so getting it up to 233 and above is fairly impressive. With Canterwood overclocking so well and hitting some super high FSB speeds, we'll certainly be keeping our eyes out for some true DDR500. Also, below is a shot of 3DMark01 overclocked to it's max with the timing settings noted above. A nice little increase.
Conclusion Reviewing the ABIT IC7-G Max2 Advance has been nothing short of pure pleasure. Installation and setup were a snap. Getting the system up and running from the BIOS was simple, yet there are plenty of options to work with to increase performance. Speaking of performance, we have yet to see a motherboard of this caliber come through the halls of OCAddiction. The IC7-G is easily one of the best Intel based motherboards you can currently purchase, and when it comes to overclocking, you won't want to look elsewhere. ABIT has certainly come a long way since the days of the BH6 and things have only gotten better. In a market as competitive as this, staying on top is one tough road but through it all, ABIT remains our top choice for the hardware enthusiast.
Layout/Design9.5 - ABIT has been hard at work for many years giving us great performing and smartly built motherboards. This board is laid out very well with the ATX Power Connector far to the right and out of the way, 4 3-Pin fan headers to provide plenty of cooling and easy access to DIMM slots and IDE ports. Additionally, the turned IDE ports make for easy insertion and routing of IDE cables. Another area where the BH7 lead the way and IC7 has followed suite.
Features 9.5 - With the IC7-G you'll get just about everything you need to get the job done. 4 USB Ports (2 additional via hookup), 1 Firewire (2 additional via hookup) Parallel, Serial, 6-Channel Audio, Onboard Gigabit LAN with PS/2 and Keyboard inputs you really can't go wrong. Pack that in with 5 PCI slots, AGP, 2 IDE, Floppy and onboard Onboard Native SATA, for the price, you simply couldn't ask for more.
Tweakability and Overclocking 10 - ABIT continues to lead the pack with their SoftMenu™ BIOS Overclocking. With FSB options up to 400+MHz, excellent voltage settings, incredible CPU:DRAM ratio settings, there is more than enough tweakability for even the most demanding PC Enthusiast. ABIT's SoftMenu™ simply can't be beat.
Stability 9.5 - The IC7-G is commended for it's stable performance throughout the entire review. Even at 3.5GHz well over it's rated stock speed the IC7-G continued to run smooth.
Documentation and Software 9 - ABIT's user manual provides adequate info for setting up, tweaking and troubleshooting your system. Obviously it cannot give you guidance on every encounter you may have, but I believe they did a good job here with both the provided paper manual and documentation on the included CD. The bundled software was certainly adequate as well including all drivers, a few utilities and Hardware Doctor. No frills, but certainly enough to get the job done. The packaging was also well laid out with a nice document folder to keep the software and manuals in. A nice addition to the discerning enthusiast. Not to mention the included ABIT case badge. A nice finishing touch.
Price 9 - At $230.00 the IC7-G isn't geared towards your average user. However given the features, chipset and extras you'll get with the IC7-G the price justifies the means. You want to play, you've got to pay.
Performance 10 - Currently ABIT takes the desktop performance crown with the IC7-G and Intel 875P Canterwood chipset. You want performance? You'll get it here. You'll be hard pressed to find a motherboard that will give you this type of performance with a properly tweaked BIOS and system.
Overall Score: 95%
Final Comments Many of you know the initial release BIOS for the IC7-G had some issues with memory timing. Defaulting timing settings to a very relaxed state. This issue has since been cleared up by the ic7 1.1 BIOS file. Obviously ABIT wanted to get this issue cleared up as quickly as possible since the IC7-G is their current Flagship product and quickly they did. I'd like to commend the ABIT marketing team for listening to the many readers who posted in the ABIT forums and getting on the ball with their engineering department to get this issue cleared up ASAP. You really couldn't ask for better service than that. With the performance we've seen here today, the IC7-G Max2 Advance is a prime candidate for the OCAddiction Essential Hardware Award. As stated previously nothing else has really come close to this type of performance and the IC7-G sporting the excellent Intel 875P Canterwood chipset is one serious contender for desktop performance. You'll be hard pressed to find a faster solution than this. We consider the OCA Essential Hardware our top honor and right now, the IC7-G definitely deserves it. Quite simply, if your looking for the best possible Intel based performance solution, the IC7-G is your ticket.
One last item I wanted to discuss was the sister board to this, this IC7. With the IC7-G we get 2 extra SATA channels and native Gigabit Ethernet capability. The IC7 will currently run you about 150$ with a quick search on PriceGrabber and the IC7-G is running right around 230$. You'll have to decide for yourself if these extra's are worth it in the long run. I would suspect the IC7 to give identical performance to the IC7-G so whether or not the Gigabit Ethernet and extra SATA channels are worth it is certainly something to consider.
We'd like to thank you for joining us here at OCAddiction.com today and hope you enjoyed the review. Want to discuss this or other reviews? Head to our forums. We'd also like to thank the ABIT Corporation for graciously providing this review sample and answering questions and concerns along the way. Looking to pickup this mobo on the net? Checkout PriceGrabber for the latest prices on this and other items.
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