Abit IP35 PRO P35 and AB9 QuadGT P965 Motherboards

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Layout : Abit IP35 Pro

Layout : Abit IP35 Pro

The Abit IP35 Pro is an eye-catching design, featuring the dark blue / teal PCB color which Abit has used several times before, along with some vibrant copper colored chipset cooling components which really make this motherboard design “pop”. As expected, the board is based on a standard ATX design, meaning it will fit in all modern cases. The board requires a 24-pin primary ATX connector and an 8-pin +12V secondary ATX connector, both of which are elegantly placed on the sides of the PCB in order to not interrupt airflow to hot components.

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IP35 Pro - North

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IP35 Pro - South

The board supports all manner of Socket-775 processors, and Abit leaves plenty of room around the CPU socket for large sized heatsinks. The processor’s VRM modules are passively cooled by the onboard cooling system, as they sit below the copper heatsink. The board officially supports quad-core chips along with Intel’s new 1333 MHz (or 1.33 GHz, if you prefer) front side bus based Core 2 processors, giving it additional lifespan in comparison to 965 platforms. Abit also keeps plenty of 3-pin and 4-pin fan connecters around these vital components, which isn’t normally worth noting, although the amount of connectors available struck us as abnormally high, which is definitely a good thing.

The board has four DDR2 DIMM slots, capable of holding up to 8 GB of DDR2-800 memory in a dual-channel configuration. The memory modules talk to the P35 Express Northbridge, which is housed under a large copper heatsink, connected to two other heatpipes. The P35 Express Northbridge does consume more power in comparison to the P965, which makes larger chipset cooling necessary for silent operation, although overall heat output and power consumption levels are still quite low. In testing, we found that the chipset cooler only got mildly warm during long term operation, which basically tells us that Abit’s cooling system is more than sufficient in handling the job of cooling this chipset. With this additional cooling power and flexible BIOS controls, chipset-level overclocking is a piece of cake.

The board is equipped with dual PCI Express x16 sized slots, which are capable of running dual ATI graphics cards in a Crossfire configuration (although this is not labeled on the box). The primary PCIe x16 slot runs at full x16 timings, whereas the secondary slot runs at x4 speeds, so it’s not completely optimal for ultra high-end gaming systems. For mid-range Crossfire configurations, though, you should be plenty happy. You can also use the secondary PCI Express x16 sized slot for other high-end peripherals like PCIe RAID / LAN cards, or another dedicated graphics card for multi-monitor purposes. There’s also a four-pin molex connector which sits right above the secondary PCI Express x16 slot. For those who want to use two high-end graphics cards, this connector provides a little extra juice for stability purposes.

In addition to these two slots, we also have a single PCI Express x1 slot (located above the primary PCIe x16 slot) along with three 32-bit PCI slots, which makes for an expansion configuration that most will appreciate. Abit’s Southbridge chipset cooler is also short enough that full-length PCI/PCIe cards will have no problem sitting over the length of the motherboard. Abit’s also mounted the storage ports at a right angle which helps eliminate cable clutter in this area.

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Expansion Slots, and the LAN, Firewire, and Audio Chips

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Storage Connectivity, Southbridge, and uGuru Chip

The Intel ICH9R Southbridge controller supports six Serial ATA-II/300 ports in both RAID and non-RAID configurations. The board supports RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5, and fully supports Serial ATA optical disks as well. The board is also equipped with a single Ultra ATA/133 port, for those with legacy optical drives. Even more storage abilities are available through an onboard JMicron PCI-based Serial ATA-II/300 controller, which powers two eSATA ports on the I/O panel. These ports also support RAID 0 and 1, if required. Abit does not bundle any eSATA cables with their board, but does bundle six latching Serial ATA-II/300 cables and Ultra ATA/floppy cables with the board. Beyond basic storage cables and driver CD/manuals, the motherboard bundle with this board is actually quite bland.

Sitting next to the SATA-II/300 ports is a diagnostic LED array, which provides POST codes during booting, which can help you diagnose motherboard issues quickly and easily. There are also hard power and reset buttons on the board itself, which are handy if you’re testing or using this motherboard outside of a chassis. The board is equipped with headers for an additional eight USB 2.0 ports (four on the I/O panel for a total of twelve), along with two Firewire 400 ports. Abit does not have any Firewire ports on their I/O panel for this board, but they do bundle an adapter which brings one 6-pin Firewire and one 4-pin Firewire port to the back of the chassis, connecting to the internal headers.

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Abit IP35 Pro I/O Panel

Looking at the back panel, we can see the aforementioned USB 2.0 and eSATA ports. Audio-wise, the board is equipped with a Realtek ALC888 HD Audio CODEC, which powers the board’s 8-channel analog/ 7.1 channel S/PDIF digital audio ports, seen above. The board is also equipped with TOSlink Optical S/PDIF digital input and output ports, which is an interesting (and not often used) choice. To the right, we can see dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, both of which are powered by individual Realtek PCI based GigE chips. We would have preferred newer PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet connectivity options, although as Abit is dealing with limited PCI Express lanes to utilize with the Intel P35 Express chipset, we can see why they opted to stick with a tried and true solution.

If you look closely to the right of the PS/2 ports, as well, you can see an interesting Abit-only solution. There is a small switch here, which when flipped, clears the motherboard’s CMOS quickly and easily. If you go a bit too far with your overclocking endeavours, instead of hunting down a set of pins and moving a jumper to reset the CMOS, all you’ll have to do is flip the switch once, and the motherboard will reset to its factory settings. Nice and simple, a feature we definitely made use of. All in all, a very solid board design with no major flaws to be pointed out.


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