abit AW9D-MAX Core Duo motherboard
Posted on: 21.11.2006 01:00:00

Open the box and you are greeted with the motherboard straight away, sitting there under a protective clear cover, it is a nice way of packaging a high end motherboard and does give you a reassurance that abit want you to see the board you spent your hard earned cash on and not hide it under all the manuals ect. Speaking of which, under this layer in the box you will find two packages.

Inside theses are all the contents needed to take advantage of this board, lets take it all out and have a closer look.

As you can see the contents of the box are not small, included in the boxes was a manual, driver CD, floppies (Sata drivers), a quick installation guide, info on uGuru and how to use it, a quick reference sticker, digital audio cable, SLI bridge (even though not officially supported there are some hacks out there that will allow this) the IO backplate, 7 Sata cables, firewire and USB breakout pci plate and one really long floppy cable….. Wow that was a right mouthful was it not?  I think the inclusion of the long floppy cable is an improvement over the last abit board I used, even though I do not use a floppy the last few Intel boards from abit have had the floppy port somewhere near the bottom left of the board. So this cable is needed really.

The last thing before the mobo in the package is the audio riser card, again it is pleasing to see abit stick to the same format as before, as this adds an optical out as well as support for 7.1. Ok enough of the extras now, let us take a look at the board itself.

(Click here to see a larger version of this shot Warning 8 million pixel camera shot)

On first glance the first thing I spot that is new is the abit Silent QTES 2 system, this looks like a slightly improved beefier version than the previous incarnation, this board supports a total of 8 fan headers as well so let us take a closer look.

The first point of call is right down at the south bridge, near the 2x Pci-E slots, this then makes its way up on a separate pipe to the one coming from the northbridge.

As you can see the northbridge is much meatier than the Southbridge but it is needed to help with dispensing the heat as most of you would agree.

These two pipes then  converge on the rather large block in the top left of the motherboard

I hope this help keep the temps down a bit, especially for the Watercooling users out there,  the black heatsink theme is not finished here either.

As you can see, it is used on all heatsinks on the board, I see a black theme emerging here, moving on let us take a look at the layout of the board.

Moving down to the bottom right, of the board we have the uGuru chip (as well as the uGuru optional clock header) we have a numeric post code display, color coded case connectors and the two usb headers. The newest edition down this end is the inclusion of the to switches, the brown one is power, and the yellow is reset (bios) a better in my opinion way of resetting your bios and for a board aimed and the enthusiast an excellent edition to the motherboard. As you can see this is also where the first 4 3g Sata connectors are.

Two of the other Sata ports are located right down the bottom of the board with the floppy port, so were is the 7th then? Well erm.

For some strange reason it is up near the CPU, now I personally would never use this header even if I did have enough drives to use, but those of you with the Akasa Eclipse or mirage case will be able to take good use of this in the upper HDD cage.

The two graphics card slots are placed a respected to slots apart, unlike most, where you put a dual slot cooler based card in crossfire mode and the cards nearly touch each other. Also on the left are the two onboard firewire headers.

As expected the only ide port is on its side rather than the normal upright position, abit have been doing this for a while now and I think it is spot on, it helps with cable tidying and such, I would like to see this continued onto the power connector in future. But it is not a downside at all.

The memory ports are color coded for dual channel configuration, I won’t explain the obvious order of this! You can also see scattered all other the board the high quality solid state capacitors, something I have seen over the last two generations of the AW – series boards

The bottom left edge of the board is a extra Molex connector, not the best placement I have seen as it will take a stretched power cable to reach, abit could supply a nice sleeved Molex extension cable, like the long floppy, to counter this I suppose (abit take note), it is worth mentioning the motherboard’s chips used, of course there is the usual uGuru, followed by the windbond W83627, which in essence a hardware monitoring chip. The other chips involved on this motherboard are a pair of Realtek RTL8111B to control the gigabit Ethernet ports, then we have 2x Silicon image SiI3132 chips to control all the Sata ports, remember including the esata there are a total of 8 connecters on this board and obviously each chip supports only 4 hence 2 chips. The firewire ports are controlled by the normal Texas instruments chip, the clock gen is the ICS 954127, and last but not least the chipset used on the sound board is the Realtek ALC882M (sorry no pictures of the chips guys camera is still not back from repair).

On the back IO plate the connector choice is well.. Limited, we have, 1 mouse PS/2, 1 keyboard PS2, 4 USB 2.0, 2 Gigabit Network ports and 1x Esata. Although this limits the outputs, with the two included rear PCI breakouts (firewire and USB) and the front panel header that is a total of 8 USB 2.0 ports. The thing that puzzles me most here though is why the PS2 connectors still, I mean if you are going to drop the com and parallel ports, why not these too. I bet 100% of those that purchase this board will be using a USB 2.0 keyboard and mouse. Lets turn the board over and take a look at the underside.

There is quite a bit going on round the back with this board,

The first thing that comes to mind is the OC strips, these are designed to aid in drawing heat away. Finally we have this

That’s right an LED on the back and there are plenty of these for a complete light show, something most of you case modders out there will appreciate. Let us get on with the testing shall we?

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