Benchmark Analysis and Our Rating
Benchmark Analysis: The results of our testing between the Abit AW8-MAX and the Asus P5WD2 Premium left us with one conclusion: these are two of the finest i955X boards we have come across. Performance was superb for both boards, but if we had to give an edge to either, it would be the Abit AW8-MAX, although only by the slightest of margins. In almost all encoding tests, the AW8-MAX completed the tasks quicker that the P5WD2, and we were especially impressed by the lower times in the World Bench 5 application testing.
The Abit AW8-MAX comes in a flashy package touting all of the board's features, and explaining how they benefit hardcore PC enthusiasts. We're glad to say that Abit's favorable spin is not all hype. The AW8-MAX's custom cooling equipment, using copper strips and heatpipes, provide sufficient cooling of the motherboard's components without adding unneeded fans and noise. 7.1 channel audio is provided using a daughterboard that sounded just fine in limited testing. While it might not be the equivalent of high-priced third party cards from the likes of M-Audio or Creative Labs, it's sure to be enough for almost all but the most discerning PC users.
We were also thoroughly impressed by the software that came with the AW8-MAX. Usually reserved for less than stellar titles, or programs that offer little else other than making a package "complete", Abit's uGuru software allows the non-technical user a taste of tweaking their system that they might otherwise shy away from. Giving the user complete control of fan speeds and overclocking options, all done on the fly from within Windows, almost makes the days of looking at arcane BIOS screens a thing of the past.
While we were impressed with the AW8-MAX from top to bottom, we just didn't have the same excitement we first experienced when evaluating the Asus P5WD2 Premium a few months back. Maybe it's the lack of dual PEG graphics slots, or the fact the P5WD2 shipped with such an impressive bundle. Regardless, there's no doubt that the Abit AW8-MAX is a great board for the Intel fans out there. As such, we're giving the AW8-MAX a healthy 9.0 on the Heat Meter.
|•_Outperformed the Asus P5WD2 Premium
•_Quiet, efficient cooling solutions including a heatpipe off of the Northbridge
|•_Not the best overclocker in our matchup
•_As with almost all i955X boards, price is an issue (~$220-240)
•_Single-slot graphics mean no multi-GPU configurations