Abit IP35 PRO P35 and AB9 QuadGT P965 Motherboards
Layout : Abit AB9 QuadGT
The AB9 QuadGT motherboard has a design which is very similar to the newer IP35 Pro. However, the QuadGT does have some subtle but notable differences beyond the chipset which separate the two to different price points. While the QuadGT is decidedly less feature packed, it still has some interesting features which help set it apart from competing 965 boards.
AB9 QuadGT - North
AB9 QuadGT - South
The AB9 QuadGT motherboard is also based on a standard ATX layout with a dark blue / teal colored PCB. The board runs off Intel’s P965 chipset in combination with the widely used ICH8R Southbridge controller chip. The board supports Socket-775 Core 2 based quad and dual-core processors, along with support for older Socket-775 Pentium models as well. Officially, the board only supports 1066 MHz front side bus based processors based on the retail box, but Abit has just released a new BIOS revision as of a few weeks back which allows the board to support 1333 MHz front side bus based processors. Hopefully newly shipped QuadGT motherboards will include this BIOS revision out of the box.
Sitting alongside the right side of the board, we have four DDR2 DIMM sockets, capable of supporting up to 8 GB (2 GB per slot) and speeds up to DDR2-800. At DDR2-800 speeds in a dual-channel memory configuration, this means that the board can utilize up to 12.8 GB/s of memory bandwidth, on par with other platforms at this price point.
The cooling configuration is one of the stronger points of the platform, as Abit has equipped this board with custom copper heatsinks in order to keep the P965 chipset cool while producing zero noise. Granted, the 965-series runs fairly cool as it is, and plenty of platforms have launched with passive cooling. However, Abit’s cooling design is sleek and efficient, moving heat away from the Northbridge chip and cooling the VRM modules at the same time with the use of their Silent OTES heatpipe system. Abit also includes small slits in the I/O panel shield, which helps move air over the copper fins. Abit’s cooling system should allow for flexible overclocking as well, as you can push the chipset voltage up without having to worry about overheating.
As for expansion, the board is equipped with an interesting configuration, which should please most users, but undoubtedly some will have issue with. First off, the board supports dual PCI Express x16 sized slots, both of which can hold graphics cards if need be. The board has support for ATI Crossfire technology for multi-GPU rendering as well, or you can use them independently for multi-monitor puposes. The lower PCIe x16 slot actually has an x4 electrical connection, similar to other Crossfire-enabled 965 platforms, due to the PCI Express limitations within this chipset. Thus, high-end gamers will likely want to look elsewhere for a multi-monitor solution, although the 965 can provide a solid boost for two mid-range cards to give performance levels of a high-end card.
The board is also equipped with a single PCI Express x1 slot along with two 32-bit PCI slots. The ICH8R chipset supports up to ten USB 2.0 ports, which the AB9 QuadGT uses fully, as the motherboard is equipped with four USB 2.0 ports on the I/O panel along with pins for up to six more underneath the last PCI slot. The board also supports Firewire 400 connectivity through a dedicated PCI-based Texas Instruments Firewire controller, which Abit uses by putting one six-pin Firewire 400 port on the I/O panel and allowing pin-level connectivity for one more.
Dual PCI Express x16, Realtek GigE LAN / Audio, Firewire
Serial ATA Ports, Southbridge, Abit uGuru, Diagnostic LED
The board is quite flexible in terms of storage, supporting Serial ATA-II/300 RAID, eSATA, and Ultra ATA/133 as well. The Intel ICH8R Southbridge supports six Serial ATA-II/300 ports, which supports RAID levels 0, 1, 10, and 5 natively. The board is also equipped with a JMicron Serial ATA-II/300 controler which supports the two eSATA ports on the I/O panel, which also can support RAID levels 0, 1, and JBOD if need be. The board also supports a single Ultra ATA port which can support up to two legacy IDE drives.
AB9 QuadGT I/O Panel
The I/O panel is nearly identical to that of the previously seen P35 Express board, although slightly modified. The AB9 QuadGT also uses the Realtek ALC888 HD Audio CODEC, which allows for 8-channel analog and 7.1 digital S/PDIF audio, which Abit makes full use of with this board, including both optical TOSlink input/output ports. This board also uses the same 32-bit PCI Gigabit Ethernet chip from Realtek as the IP35 Pro, although there is only a single GigE port here. With the secondary GigE port excluded, Abit can put a full-sized Firewire 400 port on the I/O panel, which the IP35 Pro doesn’t have. The I/O panel also features an identical USB, eSATA, and PS2 configuration as the IP35 Pro, including the Abit custom clear CMOS switch.
Like the IP35 Pro, the QuadGT has a very solid design which will please both normal home users and enthusiasts. It’s obvious that they’ve had a lot of time to refine their 965 based designs, and this is the fruit of that labor.