Now it's down to the motherboard itself, and ABIT's design is eye catching. It uses a full 6 layer 30x24cm ATX board, you need a good size ATX case to fit this board in without having to worry about air flow problems, any case designed to take a E-ATX board will have no problems with this baby. The PCB used is black in colour with black and blue slots and copper heatsinks.
ABIT has placed the 24-pin power connector behind the DIMM sockets along with the SATA ports, 4 of them are rotated 90 degrees to the board, and the other 2 are standard up and down. The 4/8 pin power connector gets placed behind the PS/2 towers above the heatsinks that cooled the Mosfets
The IDE connector sits at 90 degrees to the board and is located below the SATA ports on the right hand edge of the board. The FDD connector I am sorry to say finds its place in our most loathed stop, bottom right of the board, which is a shocking position but thankfully most people rarely use the aging floppy drive these days.
ABIT's layout around the CPU is extremely clean, in fact is it has the best landscape we have seen, there are no large capacitors towering up and plenty of room to install large heatsinks if you desire.
For juicing up the CPU, ABIT has gone digital with their PWM for longer life and better stability. Using a Puise Digital controller chip, the CPU is fed its voltage though a 5 phase system. The Mosfets are located under the large heatsink pictured. This Silent OTES heatsink also takes the heats from the Northbridge and Southbridge chips though the interconnected heatpipe network. Both the Northbridge and Southbridge on nForce 680i chip get very hot unless cooled properly and the type of heat pipe solution employed by ABIT here is quite good.
ABIT has also decided to spend a little extra cash and use higher quality all solid capacitors from Japan which operate at a lower temperature and provide added stability and product life time. This is something that more and more motherboard companies are starting to do now and it's great to see that they are interested in producing higher quality products which could effectively be useful for at least 10 years (compared to around 4 - 6 years with cheaper parts) before the parts such as capacitors start to cause issues for you.
ABIT's rear I/O ports are pretty common with the exception of adding in a couple of e.SATA ports. These are controlled by a Silicon Image 3132 PCI Express chip located just behind the 2 ports. There is also a CMOS reset switch on the back - on one position it keeps CMOS data, switch it over and CMOS is reset back to defaults. It is a good addition indeed for overclockers but keep in mind there are also reset and power button on the board itself which also are great when testing and overclocking.
Lastly on the board layout front is the expansion slots. ABIT has done a very good job on this lot, as well. There are a total of 3 PCI Express x16 slots which is the maximum that the 680i chipset supports with 2 black slots and 1 blue slot. The 2 black slots are full-speed x16 slots for SLI gaming, the top black slot runs off the 680i Northbridge and the other black x16 slot runs off the Southbridge. The blue PCI Express x16 slot is electrically only running at x8. This slot is designed for a third graphics card in order to gain more than 4 monitors or to run nVidia's physics engine off another nVidia graphics card which we may actually end up seeing one of these days - possibly very soon or half way through the year. If you aren't going to run a third graphics card or physics card, you can put in any PCI Express expansion card, great for running RAID controllers out there that use either the x4 or x8 bandwidth. And finishing off the list is 2 PCI Express x1 slots and 2 PCI slots.
ABIT has added in two extra peripherals that aren't controlled by the nVidia chipsets. The first we already mentioned the Silicon Image 3132 SATA chip for the 2 e.SATA ports and the other is the Texas Instruments Firewire chip which adds a couple IEEE1394 ports.
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- Page 1 [Introduction]
- Page 2 [Specifications]
- Page 3 [Inside the Box]
- Page 4 [Motherboard]
- Page 5 [BIOS and Overclocking]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks - Test System Setup and Memory Performance]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks - PCMark]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks - WorldBench]
- Page 9 [Benchmarks - Adobe Premiere Elements]
- Page 10 [Benchmarks - 3DMark06]
- Page 11 [Benchmarks - PREY]
- Page 12 [Benchmarks - Far Cry]
- Page 13 [Final Thoughts]
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