Motherboard: Abit KV8 MAX-3 Review :: Features and Layout

05-19-2004 · Category: Motherboards

By Doc Overclock
Abit KV8-MAX3
† Voltage and Physical support for previous generation of AGP
‡ Not just pin headers onboard
Motherboard: Abit KV8 MAX-3 Review
Board Revision1.01
BIOS VersionBIOS 20
Default Clock Speed (MHz)2004.2
North BridgeVIA K8T800
South BridgeVIA VT8237
Number of PCI slots5
Memory typeDDR266/333/400
Number of memory slots3
Maximum Memory (GB)2
Universal AGP support †No
AGP Pro SupportNo
Number of Physical USB 1.1 ports ‡0
Number of Physical USB 2.0 ports ‡6
Active Cooling on ChipsetYes
Adjustable AGP VoltageYes
Adjustable Memory VoltageYes
Southbridge UDMA 133 SupportNo
IDE or RAID Controller other than SouthbridgeSilicon Image Sil3114CT
Auto speed-down/shutdown on fan failureYes
Auto speed-down/shutdown on heat alarmYes
On-board SoundRealtek ALC658 Audio AC'97 2.3 CODEC
On-board LAN3Com Marvell Gigabit Ethernet

Here we see another board based around the VIA KT800 chipset and that is not a bad thing as many of the boards previously tested using this chipset have been solid performers. Supporting the ZIF Socket 754 platform the KV8-MAX3 can utilize the Athlon-64 CPU line up to the 3400+ and supports up to 2GB max of DDR 266/33/400MHz DDR SDRAM in both the ECC and non-ECC variety. Using DDR266/333 you can use all three of the provided DIMM slots but with DDR400 you can only use two of the three slots. There isn't ample room around the ZIF interface to accommodate larger enthusiasts based cooling solutions as the QTES system cooler is located right next to the ZIF Socket. Let me clarify a bit, if you are using a cooling solution that has a larger than normal fan area it will hit the QTES system, if it doesn't you will be okay. There is also only one fan header for the CPU located by the memory slots and another by the IDE controllers.


Motherboard: Abit KV8 MAX-3 Review
Motherboard: Abit KV8 MAX-3 Review

ABIT has lent a red color to its PCB making for a better looking board than just plain drab brown or green and that is okay by me as the older boards are just too plain. The board also sports a NB cooling fan for better stability in overclocking and the OTES (Outside Thermal Exhaust System) cooling system, the OTES pulls heat away from the CPU in addition to the CPU's own cooling apparatus for added heat dissipation. The power connectors are also located ideally and together near the back of the board, which helps keep the cable mess to a minimum as well as being more ergonomic to the end-user. The OTES has its own built in fan, that when used in combination with its plastic housing can move large amounts of air to those trying to keep CPU temps to a minimum and helps add stability when pushing the system past spec. This is the third installation of the OTES system and ABIT seems to be learning and advancing the design with each new release as it progressively seems to be getting better.

Motherboard: Abit KV8 MAX-3 Review

There are two SATA150 RAID controllers provided by the SB VIA 8237 chipset and an additional four provided by the Silicon Image 3114 controller making for a total of six SATA150 controllers available for the user. There are dual ATA133 controllers as well as the standard floppy connection for connecting your internal optical or hard drives, but nothing out of the ordinary like additional ATA133 controllers as seen on some other boards. The design is done pretty well with the SB SATA controllers located by the BIOS chip and the Silicon Image controllers located at the bottom of the board. The floppy connection is also located by the BIOS chip and away from the IDE controllers. 8X AGP is present, but the slot is way too close to the memory controller to be optimal as any large sized VGA card will most assuredly block access to the memory slots causing you to remove the VGA card prior to changing out your memory. Only the latest 1.5v cards are supported so if you have an older card it is upgrade time if you want to use the KV8-MAX3.


Motherboard: Abit KV8 MAX-3 Review
Motherboard: Abit KV8 MAX-3 Review
Motherboard: Abit KV8 MAX-3 Review

Sound is provided by the Realtek ALC658 chipset 2.3 codec, which is a top of the line solution from Realtek that offers Dolby Digital 6-Channel audio and the UAJ (Universal Audio Jack) that automatically detects your speaker type for quick setup times. The ALC658 has six 20-bit DAC channels, dual stereo 18-bit ADC, and an AC'97 2.3 compatible six-channel audio CODEC designed for the desktop PC arena. The ALC658 incorporates a proprietary converter technology to achieve its 100dB sound quality, meeting performance requirements on PC99/2001 systems and taking PC sound quality to the same level as home audio equipment. There are SPDIF connections, but no Coaxial input for connecting digitally qualified speakers. The rear I/O has five independent mini-Din connections allowing for 5.1 surround sound speakers to be connected and still have a microphone and audio input available without have to unplug something to use them unlike most designs.

Motherboard: Abit KV8 MAX-3 Review

There are in total six available USB 2.0 ports, four are located on the rear I/O and two more are made available via a bracket that occupies one PCI slot and attaches to headers located on the board. Two IEEE1394 connections are also available, one on the rear I/O and the other on yet another bracket. Gigabit LAN is provided by the 3Com Marvell chip, which until recently was unavailable as an on-board option and only available by purchasing a stand alone PCI card. The LAN is auto-switching and will self adjust to either a 10/100/1000Mb setting depending on your network environment. One thing that was really a good thing for the enthusiasts and is easily overlooked is the 4-phase power design that lies hidden beneath the OTES plastic shroud on the KV8-MAX3. This theoretically should provide additional stability for the board, which helps everyday operations as well as the overclocking environment. Let's continue to the setup and test system phase and see what other things the KV8-MAX3 has in store for us under its proverbial hood.


Motherboard: Abit KV8 MAX-3 Review
Motherboard: Abit KV8 MAX-3 Review
Motherboard: Abit KV8 MAX-3 Review