Abit IN9 32X-MAX
Abit's flagship Nforce motherboard impressed from the moment it arrived on our desk. Abit's packaging is first class with just the right mix of style and substance. We were impressed with the sheer volume of bundled components and connectors which make the product ideal for those building a brand new system. Based on our past experiences with the 680i chipset we were more than a little worried that Abit wouldn’t be able to make a stable, bug free product (due to the choice of chipset), however following our time with the board we are happy to report that the IN9 32X-MAX suffers from none of the major issues which plagued the reference board (those issues included PS/2 compatibility, Sata controller issues and severe problems with memory compatibility).
That doesn’t mean that the board is without issue though and there are minor niggles such as random instability when too many BIOS options are changed in one batch as well as the bug in multiplier overclocking where only two of our quad CPU’s cores actually overclock. This only affects users with an extreme edition Quad CPU, however it is less than reassuring. We would hope that both issues are fixable because if they are resolved then we will be left with a great performance motherboard which has two of the best features we have seen in a long time (external CMOS reset and BIOS profiles).
Abit IN9 32X-MAX is available for £211 from OCUK / and $329 from Newegg
UPDATE: After we published this article we received a beta test bios from Abit with fixes for Quad core multipler overclocking. We will report back when we get time to test it thoroughly.
As we mentioned in our introduction to the XBX2 the original XBX served us well in our review systems in the past and we had high hopes for this particular product. By the end of our testing it was clear that Intel were on to another winner with the “2”. The board performed flawlessly during testing and its simple BIOS layout and ease of configuration mixed with performance close to Abit's motherboards are a great combination. It’s clear that when Intel are designing products they put a tremendous amount into the customer experience and unique features such as the BIOS config jumper and Intel’s incredibly easy update process really do give a great feeling of a quality product.
It was also nice to see that the ability to achieve high overclocks has not been lost between board revisions and despite the products mature age it still gives the latest and greatest a run for their money. Our only real criticism is that the memory support is now somewhat lacking (supporting up to DDR2-800) when compared to other similarly priced models.
Intel D975XBX2 is available for £164 from OCUK / and $240 from Newegg
Abit Fatality F-I90HD
The F-I90HD is a board that many people were waiting a long time for due to its use of AMD’s latest chipset however the overall feeling we got from using the product was that there was a lot of potential in the chipset which was being held back by design decisions. The ability of the board to reach 350+Mhz is very impressive for a M-ATX product, however we would love to see what the chipset is capable of within an ATX design featuring enhanced specifications. The lack of configuration in the BIOS was also disappointing to see with some key features, such as QX6700 upward multipliers being unavailable. There is also an issue with the time taken to save BIOS changes, or POST (when initially turned on) as it frequently seems to take an eternity. Performance of the board when up and running was great though and given the products placement at half the retail price of the other boards being tested today there is great potential for those on a budget to build a top performing PC around the F-I90HD.
Media Centre enthusiasts should also give the board some serious thought due to the silent design, small size and on-board HDMI port.
Abit Fatality F-I90HD is available for £76 from OCUK / and $124
Source:Socket 775 Mobo Roundup