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DFI AD77 Infinity KT400 AMD Motherboard

DFI AD77 Infinity KT400 AMD Motherboard - PCSTATS
Abstract: The AD77 Infinity has all sorts of "goodies" such as Serial ATA, USB 2.0, IEEE 1394, 10/100 LAN, 5.1 audio and 8x AGP.
 79% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: DFI Jan 09 2003   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > DFI AD77

Looking at RAID, Overclocking and more

The thing that bothered me the most is not that DFI chose to go with a passive heatsink to cool the KT400 chipset, rather that they attached the heatsink with thermal glue! If the previous VIA KT chipsets are any indications, the KT400 will get quite toasty when in operation, and it would have been nice to have some better form of cooling on the Northbridge.

I'm not sure why DFI had to include so many little blue jumpers. Couldn't they just incorporate things like 100/133/166 MHz FSB adjustments in the BIOS? The ATX power connector is to the right of the CPU socket and just on top of the AGP slot which will interfere with the CPU fan but I understand that this supplies cleaner voltages to the MOSFETs. I'm sure you all know my feelings towards AC'97 based sound cards.

Serial ATA / IDE RAID Explained

IDE RAID 0 is not really considered a true RAID since there isn't any data redundancy. RAID 0 takes two drives of the same size/configuration and stripes them, meaning it makes one big drive out of two equal ones. This improves performance by cutting hard drive latency in half. Since the data is divided equally and written on two hard drives it also increases the data bandwidth by two. The reason it's not considered true RAID is because if one drive fails, all data is lost.

IDE RAID 1 on the other hand mirrors two drives of the same size, so in theory if one drive fails, the other will take over as the primary hard drive and the system can continue to operate normally. This is what is supposed to happen with a SCSI hard drive setup and it actually works pretty well there.

The IDE subsystem doesn't allow hard drives to be disconnected while the computer is still powered up and in use like SCSI can unless you have a special HDD tray. Generally, when one IDE drive fails the system usually locks up anyway. The data is safe since it's mirrored on the other drive which is the real benefit.

With IDE RAID 0+1, you need four hard drives of the same configuration/size. What RAID 0+1 does is stripes two sets of two hard drives, one set for a RAID 0 configuration and the other for RAID 1. What this does is offer the best of both worlds, the high performance of RAID 0, with 100% data redundancy of RAID 1. Hence the name RAID 0+1. The only downside would be the need for four identical hard drives.

If you'd like a bit of information on the VIA KT400 chipset, please read our MSI KT4 Ultra-FISR review.

Around the Socket: Heatsink Clearances

PCStats Heatsink Clearance Measurements
Top Clearance: 14 mm
Bottom (cam) Clearance: 7 mm
Left Side (arm) Clearance: 16 mm
Right Side Clearance 20 mm
Socket Mounting Holes: 4mm Ă˜dia.
Max. Heatsink Base Dimensions: ~83x94 mm

Note: Approx. measurements are made from the edge of the socket (not the clips) to the closest obstacle taller than the ZIF socket itself.

The socket is 51mm across, and 62mm from top to bottom.

Another thing that we were happy to see was that DFI has included the four surrounding mounting holes even though AMD has taken them off their requirements list. There is a good amount of space around the CPU socket so you shouldn't have any problems installing larger heatsinks like the Alpha PAL8045.

Overclocking the AD77

DFI have been focusing on areas which don't always mean that enthusiasts get what they would call "overclocker friendly" features and tools. There is a lot of competition in the relatively small enthusiast market, so this doesn't always make too much sense from a manufacturers perspective - but since enthusiasts are often gammers, the two do go hand in hand on some points (performance namely).

We were pleasantly surprised to see how many overclocking options the AD77 Infinity had, perhaps DFI are going to be focusing more on overclockers this year as a price war is expected to hit the motherboard market shortly.

We ran into some weird problems when it came to overclocking the AD77 Infinity however. With the original BIOS the board was shipped with we had no problems running at 190 MHz FSB - however once we flashed the board with the latest BIOS, we could no longer overclock. The options were still there, but the board simply refused to boot into Windows if we ran the board at 5 MHz FSB higher then stock (166 MHz FSB was our starting point since we're using an AthlonXP 2700+).

We're not really sure what the problem was and every time I tried flashing the board back to the original BIOS, it would just hang. This may have been isolated to the board we received for testing, and as we already mentioned, with the BIOS it shipped with overclocking was fine.

Update:

DFI got back to us why we lost our overclockability when we updated the board with the latest BIOS. Basically they're trying to protect newbie overclockers from killing their processors or damaging the motherboard. If you feel you're experienced enough in the "art of overclocking" you can e-mail them and they'd gladly send you the overclockers BIOS.

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Contents of Article: DFI AD77
 Pg 1.  DFI AD77 Infinity KT400 AMD Motherboard
 Pg 2.  — Looking at RAID, Overclocking and more
 Pg 3.  DFI's AD77 BIOS
 Pg 4.  Benchmarks: Sysmark 2002
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: Winstone 2002, Winbench 99
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: Sandra 2003, PCMark 2002
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: 3Dmark 2001, QIII Arena
 Pg 8.  So what do we think?

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