The layout of the ABIT AV8 board is a world apart from that of the MSI model we looked at previously. Though different, there still aren't many problem areas to be concerned with. The Northbridge is covered by only a passive heatsink and it sits far away from the AGP port so there will be no problems in this area. The 20-pin main power connection is below the processor socket, but it sits far enough away where you won't have to worry about wires getting into your fan blades.
As with the MSI board, the ABIT AV8 comes complete with the plastic HSF mount and also a backing plate secured to the reverse side. For those unaware of the concept of this plate, it allows the heatsink to be mounted with more force than a PCB would be able to tolerate. It also has vents in the metal plate so heat won't build up to the point where it becomes an issue.
There is just a bit of clutter around the socket on the ABIT board, but not enough to interfere at all with the large Thermaltake cooler used for testing. It will take an extreme sink to cause problems with this board.
At least the creator of this board wasn't color blind like that of the MSI version. You simply install your memory into slots of the same color and you have dual channel working perfectly. As with the other board tested, you use non-ECC, non-registered DDR memory so you won't have to worry about getting expensive ECC/registered modules.
Since many folks are new to the Athlon processors coming out nowadays, here is a brief rundown of the different socket configurations regarding memory. Socket 754 systems use non-ECC memory but only offer a single channel memory controller. Socket 940 was actually designed for server boards and require the higher priced ECC modules. Finally, the Socket 939 is set to become the AMD mainstream and offers the ability to use non-ECC modules in a dual channel setup.
A single 8x AGP slot and five PCI slots seems to be the norm. The ABIT is no different in its offering, but like most quality boards hitting the market it offers most of the standard peripherals onboard. If you have a desire for a sound board or other devices, though, you're well prepared to accommodate them.
One of the special points of the ABIT board are the jumpers. While not something you use every day, they do come into use pretty frequently for the enthusiast (especially the CMOS reset). The jumpers used on this motherboard are very user-friendly. They come with a high grip that makes it very easy to remove the jumper and set it to another position. Sometimes it is the simple things that stand out and it certainly was a nice change to be able to easily manipulate the jumpers.
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