More nForce2: New Boards from Abit, Biostar and MSI

Abit NF7-S

Board Revision: 1.0

BIOS Version: 1.2 (Nov 29, 2002)

The NF7-S, like the IT7 MAX2, offers a wealth of audio ports. It is the only board in the test to offer an optical output in addition to a coaxial one.

But it goes farther. Abit makes good use of the nForce2 chipset's features. Along with a total of six USB 2.0 ports (four can be used simultaneously), two FireWire ports are also available. In order to support the latest hard drives, the Sil3112 serial controller from Silicon Image was also put on the board. To make this usable with conventional hard drives, the package includes an appropriate adapter.

The software included is less extensive - besides the obligatory collection of drivers, only Acrobat Reader from Adobe is provided.

We liked the layout of this board: the ATX interface and the slot for the 12V supplementary power supply are situated, quite practically, in the same place - that prevents a tangle of cables. Also, long cards are not in the way of either the serial ports or the IDE ports. Only the USB ports 3-6 would have been better positioned on the edge of the board. The floppy connection is placed satisfactorily high up, so that even short cables will reach the upper drive frames of large tower cases.

The board did not make any performance records, but still gets good rates. Exemplary as always is SoftMenu III from Abit. In the case of the NF7-S it even permits alteration of the chipset voltage - a thing that the competition can't always offer.

A port for everything: optical and coaxial digital output, connectors for Surround Sound.