Abit SLI Motherboard Showcase

Intro, Specs & Bundle: Fatal1ty AN8 SLI

Abit has earned a reputation over the years, as a builder of top-quality motherboards geared for high-performance enthusiasts and extreme overclockers. They've produced some exceedingly popular products in the past, like the legendary BX6 and long-time favorite the TH7-II RAID, and the company continues to innovate today. In our tenure here at HotHardware, we've taken a look dozens of products from Abit, and save for a few rare exceptions, they've all been very good and deserving of consideration. That's something we can't always say about a few other motherboard manufacturers.

Today, we're going to evaluate not one, but two motherboards from Abit, both based on NVIDIA's nForce 4 SLI chipset. First up, we have the top-of-the-line Fatal1ty AN8 SLI for the AMD platform, followed up but the NI8 SLI for the Intel platform. The Fatal1ty AN8 SLI is targeted squarely at hardcore overclockers with its actively-cooled VRM and well appointed BIOS and bundle. The NI8 SLI, while targeted at a similar audience, goes about things differently with its Q-OTES silent chipset cooling and more subdued accessory bundle. There's a lot to see on the proceeding pages, so let's get started.


Abit Fatal1ty AN8 SLI: Specifications & Features
Abit Does SLI
·_Supports AMD Socket 939 Athlon 64/64FX & Athlon 64 X2 dual-core Processors
·_With 2GHz system bus using Hyper Transport technology
·_Supports AMD CPU Cool 'n' Quiet Technology

·_NVIDIA NF4 SLI single chip
·_Integrated NVIDIA Gigabit Ethernet and NVIDIA Firewall
·_Supports NV SATA 3G RAID

NVIDIA SLI Technology
·_Two PCI-Express X16 slot support NVIDIA Scalable Link Interface
·_Increase bandwidth of the PCI Express bus providing 60x the bandwidth of PCI

·_Four 184-pin DIMM sockets
·_Supports dual channel DDR400 non-ECC un-buffered memory
·_Supports maximum memory capacity up to 4GB

ABIT Engineered Technology
·_ABIT uGuru 2003 Technology
·_ABIT OTES Technology
·_ABIT AudioMAX Technology
·_ABIT CPU ThermalGuard Technology

·_Serial ATA 3Gbps data transfer rate
·_Supports SATA150 RAID 0/1/0+1


·_NVIDIA Gigabit Ethernet
·_NVIDIA Secure Networking Engine

NV Firewall
·_Native NVIDIA Firewall
IEEE 1394
·_Support IEEE 1394 at 400Mb/s transfer rate

·_High quality 7.1-channel Audio Card
·_Optical S/P DIF Input/Output
·_Supports auto jack sensing

Internal I/O Connectors
·_2 x PCI Express X16
_2 x PCI Express X1
_2 x PCI slots
_1 x AudioMAX
·_Floppy Port supports up to 2.88MB
·_2 x Ultra DMA 133/100/66/33 IDE Connectors
·_4 x SATA 3G Connectors
·_3 x USB headers, 1 x IEEE 1394 header

Back Panel I/O
·_1 x PS/2 Keyboard, 1 x PS/2 mouse
·_1 x IEEE 1394
·_4 x USB, 1 x RJ-45 LAN Connector

·_ATX form factor 305 x 245mm

·_OTES Slipstream
·_Guru Panel
·_ABIT AudioMAX Card
·_SLI Connector Bridge / ·_SLI Switch
·_SATA cable x 4
_ATA 100 IDE Cable x 1
_FDD cable x 1
·_I/O shield x 1
·_CD Title x 1
_SATA Utility Disk x 1
·_User's Manual x 1
_Quick Installation Guide x 1
·_Jumper Setting Label x 1


Abit bundled a slew of extras in with the Fatal1ty AN8 SLI. Included with the board itself, we found a custom I/O shield, an SLI switch card and bridge (and retention bracket), four locking SATA cables, a Molex-to-SATA power adapter, and rounded floppy and IDE cables. There was also a very complete user's manual, a quick installation guide, and a sticker for a case in there as well, highlighting many of the board's jumpers and headers. Of course, driver disks were included too, such as a floppy with RAID drivers, and a CD with chipset drivers and other assorted utilities.

The utilities that reside on the CD include a few very useful proprietary Abit applications, namely AbitEQ, OC Guru, FlashMenu, BlackBox and Guru Clock. As you'll see later, the AbitEQ section of this motherboard's BIOS houses a myriad of hardware monitoring tools. The AbitEQ application essentially gives user's access to all of these same tools through Windows. OC Guru is similar, in that it gives users access to all of the overclocking tools that are also available within the OC Guru portion of the system BIOS, voltages, fan speeds, clock speeds, etc. FlashMenu is for updating the system BIOS from within Windows, and BlackBox is an application used to gather data about the system should users need technical support. Lastly, Guru Clock is used to configure the uGuru Panel that's also included with the Fatal1ty AN8 SLI.


The uGuru Panel is an excellent addition to the Fatal1ty AN8 SLI's bundle. It's essentially a multi-function device that mounts in any available 5.25" bay. It houses headphone and microphone jacks, USB and Firewire ports, and underneath a hinged guard, a clear-CMOS button. It's also equipped with a relatively large screen that can be configured to display various information about the system. The uGuru panel is easily installed by simply plugging in the included cables to the appropriate header on the motherboard, but all is not perfect. The four cables necessary for the uGuru panel all run to different parts of the mobo, which makes it difficult to keep the internal wiring neat and clean. Another issue is that the uGuru panel is only available in black, so it won't match every case out there.


The last few items included with the Fatal1ty AN8 SLI were the AudioMax 7.1 audio module and the OTES Slipstream fan. The AudioMax 7.1 is essentially a riser card equipped with Realtek's ALC850 audio codec, and all of the requisite ports. Moving the codec to a separate riser card serves two purposes. One, it frees up a ton of real-estate in the board's I/O backplane, and two, it isolates the audio circuitry from the motherboard to decrease the chance of noise / interference. The OTES Slipstream fan is a simple accessory that can be mounted over a pair of video cards to circulate the air between them.

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