Finally we come to the part we pay the bickies for, the board itself. ABIT has gone for a blue PCB with blue and black expansion slots, along with blue and black memory slots. The board measures 30x24cm so it's of the full extended ATX sizing and will require a good case to be installed into.
Placement of the onboard connectors is in a reasonably good arrangement. The 24-pin power connector resides behind the four memory slots. The 4/8 pin power connector is located behind the PS/2 ports on the left top of the board. The IDE port sits below the 24-pin power connector on the right hand side and is rotated on its side.
Moving along we come to the CPU area; ABIT has kept it as clear as possible from large capacitors by using solid state components that are smaller in size and more efficient than electrolyte caps. The CPU is fed by a 4-phase voltage system that is cooled by the Silent OTES cooler that also runs to the Northbridge. The Southbridge is cooled by its own passive cooler.
Coming down to the Rear I/O ports, the one thing that struck us here was "Gee, this is pretty barren". With the lack of legacy Serial and Parallel ports on the back and the Silent OTES taking up a bit of room, there is a few ports missing. However, the important ones are still there, the most notable one is the Toslink S/PDIF port for digital audio out thanks to the HD audio codec on the ICH9R.
Lastly we take a look at the expansion slots that the board comes with and the additional extras that ABIT has put onto the board. For the graphics system, there is no Crossfire support on this board; where the Pro version had a second PCI Express x16 slot running at x4 from the Southbridge chipset, the base model IP35 uses a single PCI Express x16 slot coloured blue that runs of the P35 Northbridge. For additional PCI Express add-ons there are two PCI-E x1 slots for any of the new generation of addons like the Creative X-Fi PCI-E or TV Tuners that are now coming out. To round out the slots there are three PCI legacy slots for users of older PCI sound cards and TV Tuners; hopefully we will see a bigger explosion of PCI Express cards and the death of PCI sometime this year.
For the additional features ABIT has chucked in, we have a single PCI Express based JMicron IDE/SATA controller chip to run the single IDE port the board has. Unfortunately like some other companies, the two extra SATA ports this chip provides go to waste. Why not make them e.SATA ports? - To give the board its three Firewire ports, a Texas Instruments PCI based Firewire chip is used and is by far the most popular. The LAN is powered by a single Realtek PCI-E x1 controller chip.
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