More Motherboards, DDR2 Memory and PCI Express Graphics Cards
We thought it might be interesting to show you some of the other retail products coming down the pipe for this new platform with Intel. We have several motherboards in from various OEMs, so availability in that area doesn't look to be an issue.
Abit's AA8 is adorned in the red PCB here and the Asus P5AD2 Premium Wireless edition, is in green
The Abit board sports the usual Abit flair, a fancy active chipset cooler, lots of audio ports including S/PDIF connections, and quad SATA channels for RAID options a-plenty. Also, not pictured here, we have in possession now, Abit's AG8 motherboard, their Grantsdale flavor that is actually set up for DDR DRAM versus DDR2. The Alderwood based Abit AA8 should retail around $170 and the Grantsdale AG8 will sell in the $150 range.
The Asus board on the other hand, is almost over the top with features. The P5AD2 comes with 8 channels of SATA with two RAID controllers, one off the Intel ICH6 Southbridge and the another from a Silicon image chip, along with 4 channels of IDE RAID with as well! It also has integrated Dual Gigabit Ethernet (with a supplied RJ45/Firewire back-plate) and on-board 802.11g wireless networking. Firewire on this board is the 1394b variant, supporting up to 800Mbps, which is almost 2X faster than USB2.0 at 480Mbps.
Finally, Asus has built in a feature they call "Stack Cool", which employs a mini PCB stacked against the main PCB to wick heat away from the power components. They claim it will offer a 10 degree C reduction in temperature around the CPU area. All told this is board is one powerful combination of just about every feature you could ever want, with a promise of performance that is loud and clear. We haven't heard what pricing will be like for this board yet, but it can't be cheap with all the bells and whistles it has.
Finally, of note are two sets of all-important DDR2 DRAM. These are 512MB sticks from Crucial and our good friends at Kingston.
In the nick of time, we received two PCI Express Graphics cards, one from NVIDIA and one from ATi. The NV45 based GeForce 6800 GT is on the left here and on the right is ATi's Radeon X600 XT. For testing purposes in this article, we chose the fastest PCI Express card we could get our hands on, the GeForce 6800 GT. Word was that ATi's X800 XT in PCI Express form, was not too far down the road but it has yet to appear in our labs.
The NVIDIA card here has a 16 pipeline NV40 based GPU, with a PCI Express core adjacent to it on a multi-chip module design. There is no AGP/PCI Express bridge on this card and it should retail around $399.
The ATi card is basically a Radeon 9600 XT, with slightly faster memory and an on-chip native PCI Express interface. This cards is based on mainstream a 4 pipeline VPU and provides decent DX9 capable gaming performance for a very modest price, somewhere well south of $200.