The Cool KT7
Like the A7V, the KT7 is a bit larger than most motherboards we've grown accustomed to seeing. We don't think you'll run into problems installing the KT7 in most mid-tower cases, but a case such as the InWin A500 may make for a tight fit.
Another feature that really stands out is the fan on the VIA VT8363 (the North Bridge of the chipset) chip. The KT7 is the first motherboard ever shipped with this feature. According to ABIT, with the motherboard under max load this fan can keep the air around the North Bridge up to 10° C cooler than if just a passive heatsink were used.
While we don't feel the fan allowed us to overclock the KT7 any higher (we'll discuss overclocking in more depth later), we certainly don't doubt ABIT's claims that the inclusion of the fan helped to keep the air around the North Bridge cool. During heavy load the North Bridge and the CPU itself get pretty hot in our open-air environment, we can only imagine how hot both components would get cramped inside a poorly ventilated case!
3-phase power solution
To further keep the temperature cool, ABIT has implemented a 3-phase power solution for the KT7. With this implementation, six Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor (MOSFET) are used to dissipate heat instead of the four (known as 2-phase) used on other motherboards.
As an example, ABIT uses the 46 amps required by a 1.5GHz Thunderbird. (the press release on the ABIT website is incorrect) Since 2-phase solutions are only designed to handle up to 30 watts, the 45 watts required by the 1.5GHz Thunderbird can drive the temperature of the transistors up to 125°F! In comparison, ABIT's 3-phase solution would operate at 89°F under similar conditions.
With 1.1GHz and faster Thunderbirds on the way from AMD, ABIT's 3-phase solution on today's KT7 is essentially more "future proof" than the single-phase and 2-phase solution offered on other motherboards.
What does this mean to you, the consumer? If you purchase an ABIT KT7 today from an online or local vendor, you'll know that the KT7 has the power to handle AMD's upcoming processors. Motherboards from other manufacturers will have to address this issue with future revisions to their existing product lines.