The board is quite well layed-out for the most part, as is typical of Abit products. In particular, jumpers and connectors are staggered thoughtfully between the PCI slots, so as not to inhibit use of larger cards. Further, Abit has gone to great lengths to leave as much clearance as possible around the CPU socket, to allow for use of larger heatsink/fan setups (which are always nice, as an overclocked Athlon can easily push over 80 Watts of heat). Our only complaint with respect to the layout is that the CPU socket itself is positioned such that the clip on the heatsink is very near to the edge of the board. If you’re attempting to install this board in a smaller case, in which the power supply is located close to the board, you may wish to install the heatsink first, as it will be very difficult to do with the board installed in the case.
The KT7A-RAID also features Abit’s 3-phase power solution, which Abit claims can provide power for Athlons up to 1.5GHz with ease, while other 2-phase solutions may not be able to. Athlons in excess of 1.5GHz, can draw over 40 Amps of current fairly easily, and so providing clean power to thirsty Athlons is no small task. Abit rounds out the design with eight large 2200uF capacitors, which help to maintain stability by providing smoothing power during demand spikes.
As with the KT7-RAID, the KT7A-RAID features active cooling on the Northbridge (VIA’s VT8363, in this case). The KT133A Northbridge does run incredibly hot, especially at higher bus clocks, so the active cooling offers a certain degree of comfort. It is possible that cooling the Northbridge may also aid in overclocking, although as you’ll see, cooling isn’t everything.
Once again like the KT7-RAID, the KT7A-RAID is available in two flavors, one with on-board IDE RAID, and one without (the KT7A-RAID, and vanilla KT7A, respectively). On the RAID model, RAID functionality is provided courtesy of Highpoint’s HPT370 controller, which features RAID levels 0, 1, and 0+1, as well as ATA100 support. Highpoint controllers historically have not been favorites, as they seem to generate more in the way of device conflicts than most others. We would have preferred Abit chose one of the many other available controllers, such as those from Promise or AMI. To Highpoint’s credit, the HPT370 has proven much more trouble-free than the original HPT366 and HPT368 parts, but is still far from ideal, in our opinion. For the time being, we recommend avoiding Highpoint controllers, where possible.
The rest of the board’s features are unremarkable. The board features a 6/1/1/0 (PCI/ISA/AGP/AMR) expansion slot configuration and three 168-pin DIMM slots. Catering to the enthusiast market, in true Abit fashion, the board is not available with on-board audio.