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Abit's Fatal1ty AA8XE
Date: Feb 18, 2005
Author: Marco Chiappetta
Introduction, Specifications & Bundle

Over the years, Abit has cultivated a well deserved reputation for building some of the most overclockable, and feature rich motherboards available.  So, anytime a new core-logic chipset is released, knowledgeable enthusiasts inevitably wonder what Abit has in store.  Abit tends to incorporate features that make their motherboards stand out among the competition.  Usually they are extremely "overclocker friendly", or in some cases, Abit will innovate and try something new before most other motherboard manufactures are ready to test the waters.

Abit took a bold step in 2002 with their IT7 and AT7 "MAX" motherboards, that did away with legacy serial, parallel, and PS/2 connectors, but included a "Media XP" adapter to install in a 5.25" drive bay and gave users access to front mounted USB 2.0, IEEE 1394 ports and a wireless remote control.  And with the IC7-MAX3, released about a year later, Abit incorporated an exhaust fan that helped cool the board's power array.  Today, Abit has a new line of motherboards endorsed by world-class gamer Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel that are both aesthetically pleasing and designed with overclocking and stability in mind.  The first "Fatal1ty" branded board to arrive in the HotHardware labs is the Fatal1ty AA8XE.  The AA8XE is based upon Intel's i925XE chipset which officially supports front side bus speeds as high at 1066MHz, DDR2 RAM, and incorporates Gigabit Ethernet, Hi-Definition Audio, and RAID functionality, as well as other useful features.  This board also has a rather unique cooling apparatus installed on the VRM, and is equipped with heatsinks on both the Northbridge and Southbrige.  Abit has a few other surprises on tap with the AA8XE as well...


Specifications & Features of The Abit Fatal1ty AA8XE
Built For Overclockers, By Overclockers
_Designed for Intel 90nm Pentium 4 LGA775 processors
_Supports 1066/800MHz FSB
_Supports Intel Hyper-Threading Technology

_Intel 925XE/Intel ICH6R Express Chipset

_Four 240-pin DIMM sockets
_Supports Dual channel DDR2 533/400 Unbuffered Non-ECC memory
_Supports maximum memory capacity up to 4GB

ABIT Engineered
_ABIT uGuru Technology
_ABIT CPU Accelerator Technology
_ABIT ThermalGuard Technology
_ABIT TweakGuard Technology
_ABIT Dual OTES Technology
_ABIT OC Strips Technology
_ABIT MOSFET Thermal Solution
_ABIT OTES AeroFlow Technology
_ABIT OTES RAMFlow Technology
_ABIT AudioMAX Technology with Dolby Digital Live Support
_ABIT On-board ultra-bright LEDs
_ABIT Bold Design color management system for easy installation
_ABIT Guru peripheral product link
_Guru Clock: refer to Guru Clock SPEC (Optional)
_Guru Game panel: CMOS reset button/USB 2.0/1394/SATA/Audio IO/Large LCD at front side (Optional)

PCI-E X16 graphic
_Delivers up to 8GB/s per direction for 3.5 times more bandwidth than AGP8X

_Intel Matrix Storage Technology supports 4 ports SATA 150 RAID 0/1
_Supports SATA AHCI, providing native command queuing & native hot plug

Dual LAN
_Intel Gigabit LAN
_Intel 10/100Mbps LAN

_Supports 3 Ports IEEE 1394 at 100/200/400Mb/s transfer rate

Audio (Dolby Digital Live support)
_On board 7.1 channels Intel High Definition Audio CODEC
_Supports auto jack sensing and optical S/PDIF In/Out

_ATX form factor 305 x 245mm
Internal I/O Connectors
_1 x PCI-E X16 slot
_2 x PCI-E X1 slots
_2 x PCI slots
_1 x Audio daughter card port
_1 x Floppy port
_1 x UDMA 100/66/33 connector
_4 x SATA 150 connectors
_2 x USB 2.0 headers
_2 x IEEE1394 headers

Back Panel I/O
_1 x PS/2 keyboard, 1 x PS/2 mouse
_1 x IEEE1394
_4 x USB 2.0
_1 x RJ-45 LAN (Gigabit), 1 x RJ-45 LAN (10/100)
_1 x BP-Audio (S/P DIF in/out, Line Out, Line-in, MIC-in, Center/Subwoofer, Rear Surround, Surround Speaker)

ABIT Guru Panel I/O (Option)
_2 x USB 2.0
_1 x IEEE 1394
_1 x Headphone
_1 x Microphone
_SATA power/connector
_CMOS reset button with safety cover
_Guru LCD display
_Easy OC button

Packaging Content
_1 x 7.1 channels Intel HD audio daughter card
_1 x Back I/O shield
_4 x SATA signal cables
_1 x Rounded ATA 100 cable
_1 x Rounded floppy cable
_1 x ABIT Fatal1ty AA8XE Owner's Manual
_1 x ABIT Fatal1ty AA8XE Multilingual QIG
_1 x ABIT uGuru User's Manual
_1 x ABIT Fatal1ty AA8XE Installation CD
_1 x SATA RAID Driver Disk
_1 x ABIT Case Badge
_1 x Jumper Setting Label
_1 x 2 ports USB2.0 + 2 ports IEEE194 Cable
_1 x SATA Power cable




Abit includes an elaborate assortment of accessories, cables and literature with the Fatal1ty AA8XE.  Included with the board itself, we found three different user's manuals that outline the installation, features, and RAID functionality of the AA8XE, along with two "Quick Reference" sheets, a note from Johnathan Wendel, an Abit case badge, and a sticker that highlights all of the AA8XE's major components.  Also included with the board was a USB/Firewire case bracket with a pair of connectors for both, four red SATA cables, a single 4-pin Molex-to-SATA power adapter, an optical audio cable, two rounded cables (IDE and Floppy), and a custom I/O shield.  On top of this adequate batch of accessories, Abit also included two items that aren't quite as common.

The Fatal1ty AA8XE's integrated 7.1 channel Intel Hi-Definition audio, which also supports Dolby Digital Live, is complimented by a mini, daughter card that houses all of the audio inputs and outputs, including S/PDIF and optical connectors.  Abit alleges that having these connectors on a separate PCB reduces electrical noise, but the actual codec still resides on the motherboard, so the noise reduction probably isn't all that drastic.  Also accompanying the AA8XE was Abit's new "OTES RAMflow" cooler.  The OTES RAMflow apparatus is clipped to the DIMM slots, and helps to cool the system memory installed in the board.  We applaud the concept, but not this particular implementation.  The spring clips that hold the OTES RAMflow in place are quite firm, and can be tough to install.  And the fan header for the OTES RAMflow is clear across the motherboard.  Abit needs to incorporate another fan header adjacent to the DIMM slots in future revisions of the AA8XE, and may want to devise another method for mounting the RAMflow.

Gallery, Layout, & Features

Abit has incorporated a couple of subtle design features into the Fatal1ty AA8XE that make it somewhat unique when compared to other products in its class. At first glance, only the OTES (Outside Thermal Exhaust System) cooling apparatus stands out, but Abit has done a lot more than install a couple of fans and heatsinks on the AA8XE...

The Board: Abit's Fatal1ty AA8XE
Not Your Normal, Everyday Mobo...


The Fatal1ty AA8XE has avery good layout; there are only a few minor issues to contend with.  The ATX12V and 24-Pin ATX power connectors are both in decent locations, with the 12V connector placed along the top edge of the board next to the DIMM slots and the larger ATX connector along the front edge adjacent to the single PATA IDE channel.  The DIMM slots are located out of the path of the PEG slot, so removing / installing RAM is possible when a graphics card is installed, and the DIMM slots are color coded to indicate each of the two channels.  Along the bottom edge of the board you'll see all of the case connectors, which also happen to be color coded, along with the very useful POST Error code LCD display, and the floppy connector.  While we know floppy drives are becoming increasingly less common, the AA8XE's floppy connector placement isn't ideal.  We would have preferred if it was located adjacent to the IDE connector.

Another minor gripe is the placement of the additional USB and Firewire headers just behind the PCI slots.  These headers should have been situated the lower edge of the board, to make hiding the necessary cable along the bottom of the case easier.  The Fatal1ty AA8XE has a single x16 PEG slot, dual PCI Express X1 slots, two standard PCI slots, and tucked away in the lower-left corner is another slot that accommodates the included audio riser card.  In the opposite corner, by the POST Error code display, you can see a pair of small power and reset switches, which make it very easy to test the board without wiring all of the case switches, and near the Southbridge, the AA8XE's four SATA connectors are visible.  These SATA ports are powered by Intel ICH6 Southbridge with support for RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and MATRIX RAID.  And underneath the board, along every edge, are a series of red LED's, which make the board glow in low light.

The rear I/O panel is home to a pair of PS/2 connectors (mouse & keyboard), four USB 2.0 ports, and two RJ45 jacks - one of which is powered by an Intel 10/100 controller, the other by an Intel 10/100/1000 Gigabit ethernet controller.  Both of the AA8XE's ethernet controllers are PCI based, which means there are limited by the bandwidth offered by the shared PCI bus, but this shouldn't be an issue in most situations.  Also visible in the backplane are the two thermally-controlled fans that are part of the OTES exhaust system...


Abit's latest OTES implementation is very effective.  The system is designed in such a way, that most of the hot air being expelled by the CPU cooler is immediately expelled out of the case, and the small Northbridge fan also directs heated air towards the OTES shroud, to be removed from the inside of the system as well.  The FETs in the VRM, the Northbridge and even the Southbridge are adorned with aluminum heatsinks, and the underside of the board is equipped with "OC strips".  All of these items aim to cool the hottest parts of the motherboards, and they seem to do their jobs quite well.  The Fatal1ty AA8XE is one of the first i9xx based motherboard we've tested whose VRM didn't get excessively hot, even while overclocking.

The only disadvantage to Abit's OTES apparatus is that some third-party CPU coolers won't fit on the AA8XE. Intel's stock cooler fits just right, and so should most other round LGA775 coolers.  But Thermaltake's CL-P0092 wouldn't fit because it has a square base, and we suspect Zalman's huge CNPS7700 would be a tight fit as well.

The BIOS & Overclocking

In a move typical of ABIT, the Fatal1ty AA8XE is equipped with a Phoenix / Award BIOS derivative that is fully loaded with options for tweaking performance and managing all of the motherboard integrated peripherals and features...

The BIOS: Abit's Fatal1ty AA8XE
Everything But The Kitchen Sink



Looking at all of the Fatal1ty's BIOS menus, it's east to see why ABIT has built a reputation for configuring its motherboards with some of the most complete BIOSes in the industry. The standard BIOS menus listed above offer all of the tools necessary to enable, disable, or tweak all of the AA8XE's integrated peripherals, but it's in the uGuru Utility menu where all of the hardcore overclocking options are made available...

Overclocking Tools: Abit's Fatal1ty AA8XE
For The Hardcore Intel Overclockers




The uGuru Utility is where you'll find all of the Fatal1ty AA8XE's overclocking tools, which are quite extensive. In the uGuru Utility menu, users can manually adjust bus speeds, RAM dividers, the PCI Express clock and a slew of voltages. The PCI Express clock and PCI clocks can be configured independently, and the DDR clock can be set for 400MHz, 533MHz or 600MHz operation.  Front side bus frequencies as high as 400MHz are available, in 1MHz increments, and the CPU, DDR, Northbridge, and FSB and DDR VTT voltages are all user configurable as well.

The Fatal1ty AA8XE's BIOS also gives user's control over all five of the board's thermally-controlled fan headers and it has a slew of hardware monitoring options built-in too.  This board has one of the most complete BIOSes we've every worked with.  And if you prefer to stay out of the BIOS, all of the AA8XE's overclocking and monitoring tools are available from within Windows as well.  When using the included AbitEQ / uGuru software packages users can overclock and keep tabs on temperatures and voltages without even entering the BIOS.

Armed with all of the Fatal1ty's overclocking tools and a Pentium 4 560 ES, we set out to see just how high we could overclock with the AA8XE.  With our processor's multiplier dropped to 14 (the lowest multiplier available), we were able to hit an impressive 284MHz FSB, for a final clock speed of 3976MHz.  This was achieved with a .25v bump in CPU voltage and the DDR2 voltage set to 2.0v.  The PCI Express and PCI clocks were locked at 100MHz / 33.3MHz.  This happens to be the highest clock speed we have ever hit with this particular CPU using standard air cooling.  And we suspect the AA8XE would have absolutely no trouble hitting even higher front side bus speeds with a more overclockable processor.  Intel overclockers will not be disappointed by the tools offered by the Abit Fatal1ty AA8XE.

Test Systems & SiSoft SANDRA

How we configured our test systems: When configuring the test systems for this review, we first entered the system BIOS and set each board to its "Optimized" or "High-Performance Defaults."  The hard drives were then formatted, and Windows XP Professional was installed. When the installation was complete, we hit the Windows Update site and downloaded all of the available updates. Then we installed all of the necessary drivers and removed Windows Messenger from the system. Auto-Updating, drive indexing, and System Restore were also disabled, and we set up a 768MB permanent page file on the same partition as the Windows installation. Lastly, we set Windows XP's Visual Effects to "best performance," installed the benchmarking software, defragged the hard drives, and ran all of the tests...

Test System Specifications
Fully Loaded Rigs
Intel Pentium 4 560 3.6GHz

Abit Fatal1ty AA8XE
i925XE Motherboard

2x512MB Kingston DDR2 533 PC2-4300
CL 3, 3, 3, 8

NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT

On board Ethernet
On board Audio

WD "Raptor" 36GB Hard Drive
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP2
NVIDIA Forceware v66.93
DirectX 9.0c
Intel Pentium 4 560 3.6GHz

i925XE Motherboard

2x512MB Kingston DDR2 533 PC2-4300
CL 3, 3, 3, 8

NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT

On board Ethernet
On board Audio

WD "Raptor" 36GB Hard Drive
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP2
NVIDIA Forceware v66.93
DirectX 9.0c
Intel Pentium 4 560 3.6GHz

Intel D925XECV2
i925XE Motherboard

2x512MB Kingston DDR2 533 PC2-4300
CL 3, 3, 3, 8

NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT

On board Ethernet
On board Audio

WD "Raptor" 36GB Hard Drive
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP2
NVIDIA Forceware v66.93
DirectX 9.0c
AMD Athlon 64 4000+

Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI
nForce 4 Motherboard

2x512MBCorsair XMS PC3200 RAM
CL 2, 2, 2, 5

NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT
On board Ethernet
On board Audio

WD "Raptor" 36GB Hard Drive
10,000 RPM SATA
Windows XP Pro SP2
NVIDIA Forceware v66.93
DirectX 9.0c

Preliminary Benchmarks With SiSoft SANDRA 2005
Synthetic Testing

We began our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. SANDRA consists of a set of information and diagnostic utilities that can provide a host of useful information about your hardware and operating system. We ran three of the built-in subsystem tests that partially comprise the SANDRA 2004 suite (CPU, Multimedia, and Memory).  All of these tests were run with our processor set to its default clock speed of 3.6GHz (18x200MHz).




In these relatively "lite-duty" SANDRA tests, Abit's Fatal1ty AA8XE performed on par with other i925XE motherboards we've tested.  The CPU Arithmetic benchmark had the Fatal1ty / P4 560 combo falling just shy of an Opteron 152 (2.6GHz) in the ALU part of the test, but beating the Opteron reference system handliy in the FPU portion of the test. In SANDRA's Multimedia benchmark module, the Fatal1ty AA8XE perfromed almost identically to the refernce P4 560 based system, which is to say it was near the top of the chart.  And in the Memory Bandwidth benchmark our Fatal1ty AA8XE based system broke the 5.1GB/s mark in its default configuration.

XMPEG & LAME MP3 Encoding

For our next set of benchmark scores, we did some video encoding with all of the test systems. To get these scores listed below, we took a standard MPEG 2 format video clip and converted it to DivX format using version 5.2.1 of the CODEC with XMPEG. The results below are reported in Minutes : Seconds.  Lower scores equal better performance.

Benchmarks with XMPEG / DivX v5.2.1
Video Encoding Performance

Abit's Fatal1ty AA8XE finished the XMPEG encoding test just behind the two other i925XE based systems we tested, but well ahead of the Athlon 64 4000+.  With only a fraction of a second separating the "fastest" from the "slowest" i925XE based motherboards though, it wouldn't be right to declare any one board the clear winner.

LAME MP3 Encoding Test
Converting a Large WAV To MP3

In our custom Lame MP3 tests, we convert a large digital audio file to the MP3 format, which is a very popular scenario that many end users work with on a regular basis, to provide portability and storage of their digital audio content.  In this test, we chose a large 223MB WAV file (a never-ending Grateful Dead jam) and converted it to the MP3 format. Processing times are recorded below. Shorter times equate to better performance.

There wasn't a very large performance delta separating the four systems represented in the graph above either.  Only 5 seconds separated the system that finished in first place based on the Abit Fatal1ty AA8XE, from the last place finisher, the Athlon 64 4000+ / NF4.  And when comparing the i925XE based systems, the Fatal1ty AA8XE was able to outpace the others by about 2 seconds.  Not a monumental difference, but nonetheless it was the best score of the bunch.

3DMark05: CPU & UT 2004

It's not an actual game, but 3DMark05's built-in CPU test is a "gaming related" DirectX metric that's useful for comparing relative performance among similarly equipped systems.  This test consists of two different 3D scenes that are generated with a software renderer, which is dependant on the host CPU's performance.  This means that the calculations normally reserved for your 3D accelerator are instead sent to the central processor.  The number of frames generated per second in each test are used to determine the final score.

Futuremark 3DMark05 - CPU Test
Simulated DirectX Gaming Performance

Abit's Fatal1ty AA8XE outperformed all of the reference systems by margins ranging from 1.7% to over 8%.  The Asus P5AD2-E came in second place, followed by Intel's reference i925XE motherboard.  Our Athlon 64 4000+ / nForce 4 combo brought up the rear.  Please keep in mind that this is a synthetic test, however.  Real world gaming scenarios may not show the same performance characteristics...

Unreal Tournament 2004
DirectX 8 Gaming Performance

To start our actual in-game testing, we did some benchmarking with Epic's Unreal Tournament 2004.  When testing with UT 2004, we use a specific set of game engine initialization parameters that ensure all of the systems are being benchmarked with the exact same in-game settings and graphical options.  Like the other in-game tests in this review, we used a "Low-Quality" setting with UT2004 that isolated CPU and memory performance.

Our Athlon 64 4000+ powered reference system proved to be too much for any of the Intel based rigs in our custom Unreal Tournament 2004 test.  The Athlon outpaced the Pentium 4 systems by around 20 frames per second.  If we eliminate the A64 from the equation though, the Abit Fatal1ty AA8XE was the victor yet again. Although it was only marginally "faster" than the Asus P5AD2-E.

Half Life 2 & Doom 3

For our next game test, we benchmarked all four of the test systems using a custom multiplayer Doom 3 timedemo. We cranked the resolution down to 640 x 480, and configured the game to run at its "Low-Quality" graphics setting. Although Doom 3 typically taxes today's high-end GPUs, when it's configured at these minimal settings it's more CPU / Memory-bound than anything else...

Benchmarks with Doom 3
OpenGL Gaming Performance

Performance was all over the virtual map in our custom Doom 3 test. Once again, the Athlon 64 4000+ based system proved why gamers favor AMD processors at this point in time, by outpacing all of the Intel based systems. If we focus solely on the performance on the i925XE based rigs, however, we see that the Asus P5AD2-E came out on top at 153 FPS, followed closely behind by the Fatal1ty AA8XE with its 149.7 FPS.

Benchmarks with Half Life 2
DirectX 9 Gaming Performance

In our last in-game test, we benchmarked Half-Life 2 with a custom recorded time demo that takes us along a cliff and through a few dilapidated shacks in an area of the "Coastal" map, battling enemies throughout.  These tests were run at low-resolution and low graphical detail, to allow the CPUs to run flat out and not be held back by graphics subsystem performance.

Half Life 2 performance looked much like Doom 3, with one exception.  The Athlon 64 4000+ was the fastest of the bunch - again - but in this game, the Abit Fatal1ty AA8XE was able to overtake the Asus P5AD2-E by a couple of frames per second.  The Fatal1ty board's margin of victory was relatively small at less than 2 FPS, however.  A performance delta that small falls well within the margin of error in this test.

WorldBench 5: Photoshop 7 & Cinebench 2003

PC World Magazine's World Bench 05 is a new breed of Business and Professional application benchmark, that we're looking to with promise.  World Bench 05 consists of a number of performance modules that each utilize a one, or a group, of popular applications to gauge performance.  Below we have the results from WB 05's Photoshop 7 module, recorded in seconds.  Lower times indicate better performance.

PC World's World Bench 5: Photoshop 7 Module
More Real-World Application Performance

The Athlon 64 4000+ powered system posted the best score in WB's Photoshop 7 performance module, besting the Intel rigs by 20+ seconds.  When comparing only the Intel powered systems to each other, we see that the Abit Fatal1ty AA8XE was the "fastest", completing the test 6 and 7 seconds faster than the Asus P5AD2-E and Intel reference i925XE, respectively.

Cinebench 2003 Performance Tests
3D Modeling & Rendering Tests

The Cinebench 2003 benchmark is an OpenGL 3D rendering performance test, based on the commercially available Cinema 4D application.  This is a multi-threaded, multi-processor aware benchmark that renders a single 3D scene and tracks the length of the entire process.  The time it took each test system to render the entire scene is represented in the graph below (listed in seconds).  We ran two sets of numbers, one in single-thread mode, and another in the benchmark's multithread mode for our Hyper-Threading-enabled P4 test systems.  Athlon 64s are only capable of running the single thread test, hence the "WNR" in the graph below.

In Cinebench 2003's single-CPU test, the Athlon 64 4000+ finished rendering the scene about 4 second faster than any of the Pentium 4 based systems.  In the multi-CPU test, however, the Intel rigs came storming back and smoked the Athlon by almost 10 seconds.  And although its margins of victory were quite small, Abit's Fatal1ty AA8XE was able to squeak passed all of the other i925XE based systems.

KribiBench v1.1

Next up, we used the KribiBench rendering benchmark produced by Adept Development.  KribiBench is an SSE aware software renderer.  A 3D model is rendered and animated by the host CPU, and the average frames per second are reported.  We used two of the included models with this benchmark: an "Exploding Sponge" model consisting of over 19.2 million polygons and an absolutely gargantuan "Ultra" model that comprises over 16 billion polys!

Kribibench v1.1
Details: www.adeptdevelopment.com


Looking at the graphs above, it's clear that Kribibench clearly favors the Pentium 4 architecture.  All of the Pentium 4 / i925XE based systems dominated the Athlon 64 4000+.  When rendering the "Exploding Sponge" model, the Abit Fatal1ty technically posted the best frame rate, but a .01 FPS margin of victory most definitely falls within the margin of error in this test.  The same goes for the "Ultra" model.  When testing with the "Ultra" model, both the Asus and Intel motherboards outpaced the Fatal1ty AA8XE.  Their .011 and .01 frame per second performance advantage means very little.  For all intents and purposes all of the i925XE powered systems performed identically in these tests.

Business & Content Creation Winstones

Synthetic benchmarks, rendering tests, and game benchmarks only tell part of the overall performance story, so we benchmarked our test systems in some simulated "real-world" scenarios as well.  For this next batch of results, we used Veritest's Business Winstone 2004 suite, followed by the more demanding Content Creation Winstone 2004 suite...

Business & Content Creation Winstones
Real-World Application Performance

The Veritest Business Winstone 2004 test utilizes the following applications in its benchmark:

  • Microsoft Access 2002
  • Microsoft Excel 2002
  • Microsoft FrontPage 2002
  • Microsoft Outlook 2002
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2002
  • Microsoft Project 2002
  • Microsoft Word 2002
  • Norton Antivirus Professional Edition 2003
  • WinZip 8.1

The Veritest Content Creation Winstone 2004 test utilizes the following applications in its benchmark:

  • Adobe Photoshop 7.0.1
  • Adobe Premiere 6.50
  • Macromedia Director MX 9.0
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 6.1
  • Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9 Version
  • NewTek's LightWave 3D 7.5b
  • Steinberg WaveLab 4.0f

Unlike the Kribibench results from the previous page, both of the Winstone benchmarks show the Athlon 64 4000+ as having a definitive performance advantage over the Intel based machines.  The Athlon was significantly faster than any of the Pentium 4 powered rigs in both of the Winstone tests.  Looking past the Athlon scores, we find that all of the i925XE motherboards performed within a fraction of a point of one another.  The Intel reference board took the top spot in the Business Winstone test, and the Asus board was the winner in the Content Creation test.  Abit's Fatal1ty AA8XE was right up there though, keeping pace with the other i925XEs the whole way...

Summary & Conclusion

Benchmark Summary: Throughout our entire battery of benchmarks, the Abit Fatal1ty AA8XE posted scores that were comparable to, or slightly better than two other i925XE based motherboards, including the Asus P5AD2-E which we granted an "Editor's Choice" award a few weeks back.  When its performance is compared to competing Intel chipset based motherboards, the Abit Fatal1ty AA8XE should be considered among the best.

In typical fashion, the engineers at Abit have produced yet another memorable product that ranks as one of the best i925XE motherboards currently available, at least in our book.  The Fatal1ty AA8XE is a rock-solid motherboard that exhibited no instability whatsoever throughout our testing session, until it was heavily overclocked well beyond default speeds.  It's got all of the features enthusiasts look for in a motherboard, minus the legacy ports that are rarely used today.  The Fatal1ty AA8XE is aesthetically pleasing, and its updated OTES (Outside Thermal Exhaust System) cooling system is far more effective and quieter then previous versions.  The Fatal1ty AA8XE's benchmark scores were some of the best we've seen from an i925XE powered board, it has a bevy of overclocking options.  Additionally, at $225 the Fatal1ty AA8XE is priced competitively with other enthusiast class LGA775 motherboards.  Abit has done a great job with the Fatal1ty AA8XE and we can't wait to see what they have in store for AMD's Socket 939 platform.  We're giving the Abit Fatal1ty a 9.5 on the Heat Meter, and a much deserved Editor's Choice award.  This is a solid product that is worthy of your consideration.

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