Abit IL-90MV Core 2 Duo Mobile Motherboard - HTPC Ready



The Abit IL-90MV certainly has an interesting look. Utilizing a bright orange PCB color and a Micro-ATX form factor, this board stands out in a crowd of generic motherboards. Not only is the board unique in its shape and color, but the placement of the major components onboard also differs quite bit from what one expects from a modern day motherboard. Specifically, the positioning of the CPU socket and memory sockets are "swapped", although we have seen similar layouts for other Socket-479m based motherboards. 

Focused on the bottom ...

.. and on the top.

The motherboard supports Intel Socket-479m Core Duo and Core 2 Duo (mobile) processors. The board cannot support older Pentium-M processors, nor can it support the desktop variant of the Core 2 Duo processor which runs on a different CPU socket (775). The platform runs on Intel mobile processors for a reason, in that they produce far less heat and consume less power compared to desktop equivalents. Intel Socket-479m dual-core processors typically consume 25-31 watts (TDP), compared to 65 watts and higher for the Socket-775 variants. While mobile processors are a bit more expensive per clock compared to the desktop variants, the low power attributes make them perfect for a home theater system.

Sitting to the left of the CPU socket is the motherboard's Northbridge, which in this case is the Intel 945G. The 945G is one generation old, as Intel has launched their new integrated graphics chipsets as of about a month ago. Nevertheless, the 945G is still up to handling the needs of a home theater PC. The 945G chipset supports front side bus speeds up to 667 MHz (the fastest FSB offered by the Core Duo / Core 2 Duo mobile) and supports up to 2 GB of DDR2-667 memory in a dual-channel design. The chipset runs cool enough to use simple aluminum alloy heatsinks, which make it a good choice for a low-noise system. To the north of the chipset are two DDR2 DIMM sockets, each capable of supporting 1GB of DDR2 memory. Since the board does support dual-channel operation, peak theoretical memory bandwidth with DDR2-667 memory would be 10.6 GB/s, although the 945G memory controller will never hit is theoretical peak; real-world memory bandwidth will likely be in the 3-4 GB/s range. 

Socket-479m CPU socket, 945G Northbridge, and DDR2 DIMM memory sockets.

The Socket-479m CPU socket has four holes surrounding it for heatsink mounting purposes. Since Intel's mobile processors are not bundled with retail cooling units, it's up to the motherboard manufacturer to bundle a cooler. Abit bundles a newly created cooler with this board, known as the Abit OTES Stream. The OTES Stream is a anodized black aluminum alloy CPU cooler which mounts on this motherboard, and is rated to handle the fastest Intel dual-core Socket-479m processors. The cooler features a diagonally mounted cooling fan which not only keeps the CPU cool, but also blows air on the 945G Northbridge as well. The cooler did a great job of keeping our CPU running within its thermal limitations and at extremely low noise levels.

However, we should note that this cooler is not designed for aggressive cooling. With the cooler on our Core 2 Duo Mobile T7600 (2.33 GHz) processor, our CPU idled at over 100'F and the cooling fan spun at around 600 RPM for nearly zero noise. However, during intensive stress testing with EIST (Speedstep) disabled, we noticed our CPU temperature shoot up to 180'F in an open-air environment, which led our cooling fan to spin up to its maximum of 3,600 RPM. Even with this speed, the OTES Stream cooler was surprisingly quiet. However, one should keep temperature in mind when using this motherboard in a cramped case environment, and always remember to keep EIST enabled. 

CPU Cooler - Top

CPU Cooler - Bottom

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