abit KV7 - Page 5

..:: Layout: Southbridge & Memory Areas ::..

As we move into the Southbridge portion of the motherboard, weíll begin to see things quickly becoming far more cluttered as this portion of the board that usually contains all of the main connectors and controllers for modern motherboards. The first items we come across are all located along the bottom edge of the PCB. Here, we come across two, red, three-pin power connectors. I much like the positioning of these power connectors as they will allow for easy connection of both a third party cooling solution on a graphics card, and a front system fan, or perhaps two depending on your individual setup. This area also houses a long, white header block for use with connecting all of the main switches and system LEDís.

As we start our move back up the PCB, we next come across a larger grouping of items, starting off with the system battery, and the clear CMOS jumper. Located directly above these two items, we find both of the Serial ATA connectors that are supported by the new VT8237 Southbridge, while there are two light blue USB 2.0 headers to the left. These headers can be utilized with the included USB 2.0 expansion bracket provided by Abit in the KV7ís product package. Also, as we can see, Abit has once again chosen to orient the IDE connectors on a angle parallel to the PCB surface on the right edge of the PCB in order to conserve valuable PCB spacing. Lastly, we come across the VIA VT8237 Southbridge chip itself which is outfitted with a similar reflective surface as we are used to seeing with the VIA Northbridge chips.

The last portion of the motherboard that we have yet to discuss is, of course, the area around the DIMM slots. As we can see, the DIMM slots are located very close to both the top edge, and right edge of the PCB. Because Abit chose to arrange the IDE connectors in the manner they did, Abit was able to arrange the DIMM slots high enough on the PCB to avoid any interference with mounting or dismounting the graphics card. Other than the CPU three-pin power connector located directly above the DIMM slots, this portion of the motherboard is free of any major items of note.

Overall Iíd say the Abit designers did quite a nice job with the KV7. The board design has its quirks, as does any motherboard, but when we factor in the size of the KV7, and the amount of features that needed to be implemented, we can clearly see this design is quite good indeed. Granted, due to the reduced PCB size Abit was not able to include many extra features, such as IEEE1394, IDE RAID, or additional SATA RAID, but given the price point of the KV7 and the target audience, these items arenít all too important for the KV7. My only real gripe about the KV7ís design is the location of the floppy connector. Many users are now shying away from use of floppy drives in favor of the more modern USB storage devices, but for those users who may still need to rely on a floppy drive, this location is going to be a pain. If you need to use a floppy drive, make sure to route the cabling underneath the motherboard to prevent any airflow disruption into the case.