Abit IP35 PRO P35 and AB9 QuadGT P965 Motherboards
It’s been almost one year since Intel launched the 965 series of chipsets, which were originally designed to be packaged with Intel’s Core 2 Duo series of processors. While the 965 series didn't perform quite as well as Intel’s flagship 975x chipset in some cases, most notable in multi-GPU configurations, it made a name for itself due to its more flexible nature along with lower power consumption and heat output, and strong overclocking, which were made possible due to the more refined manufacturing process used to build the chipset. Not only was the 965 series a great overclocking chipset for the money, but over time, it’s evolved to support the changing needs of the market. While this chipset was originally a solution for 1066 MHz FSB-based dual core processors with DDR2-800 memory and single graphics card, newly launched 965 series boards support quad-core processors, multi-GPU ATI Crossfire, and unofficially, 1333 MHz FSB speeds and memory speeds far greater than DDR2-800.
While the 965 is definitely still a viable player in today’s market, Intel’s own newly launched P35 Express series of chipsets are eyeing to take over the 965’s market share in the near future. The P35 Express brings new features to the table, such as (official) 1333 MHz FSB processor support, optional support for DDR3 memory modules, native eSATA, and additional USB ports, as well as a few other smaller features. The P35 Express is definitely a solid follow-up to the 965-series, as the two products share much of the same core architecture.
The dilemma is, if you wanted a mid-range to high-end Intel powered system using an Intel-built chipset, which is the best choice? While most enthusiasts gravitate towards the latest and greatest, there is definitely something to be said for new products which are based on more mature chipsets like the 965. The kinks have been worked out, feature sets are typically stable and perform well, and they usually offer a much better experience ‘out of the box’ rather than dealing with first generation hardware and their usual driver issues and quirks. However, as the P35 Express is largely based on the same architecture as the 965, the risk of stability / driver issues is likely minimal, coupled with the fact that Intel typically has very solid chipset drivers out of the box, even for brand new products.
Abit will help us solve this dilemma today. They’ve recently launched two new motherboards, based on nearly identical designs, with both the 965 and P35 Express chipsets being used. On the 965-side, we’ve got the AB9 QuadGT, whereas their P35 Express board is tagged with the IP35 Pro name. Both boards support quad-core processors, feature interesting heat-pipe based cooling systems, along with impressive arrays of storage and multimedia connectivity options. Before we dig in too deep, let's have a look at Abit's wild, automobile-themed retail shipping boxes for these two boards. Is Abit insinuating that one is more rugged (like a monster truck) while the other is fast and hazardous? Perhaps we're just reading too much into them.
Abit IP35 Pro (P35 Express) Box
Abit AB9 QuadGT (P965) Box
Abit IP35 Pro & AB9 QuadGT
Specifications and Features
Abit IP35 Pro (Intel P35 Express)
Abit AB9 QuadGT (Intel P965)
As you can see by the images and specification sheets above, these two platforms are incredibly similar, and likely were designed in conjunction (or right after each other). Both boards sport the same PCB color, many of the component placements are identical, and we only see small differences in terms of feature sets. In a side by side comparison, the newer IP35 Pro board boasts a newer chipset design, support for newer processors, along with a second Gigabit Ethernet port and two more USB 2.0 ports.