Our Summary and Conclusion
Benchmark And Performance Summary:
The Abit AB9 Pro slightly outpaced the Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 in all of our tests. However, the DQ6 didn't go down without a fight, always managing to close the gap between the two boards to within a couple of percentage points. The benchmark results aren't particularly surprising since both boards are built on the same technological foundation. Considering that both boards are nearly identical in performance, with neither board displaying a particularly noticeable advantage over the other, it looks like this competition won't be won on the test bench. Overall, it would be hard to be disappointed with the performance of either board.
While both motherboards fared about the same when it came to performance, they differ some when it comes to features and price. Gigabyte's GA-965P-DQ6 and Abit's AB9 Pro are both meant to be high performance enthusiast boards, and it shows, but they are targeted for different price points.
With respect to overclocking and stability, the DQ6 performed extremely well. Not only does it have one of the most comprehensive set of overclocking options we've seen on a motherboard, it also has the overclocking capability to back it up. The nearly 1GHz overclock we were able to achieve with our particular DQ6 is impressive. No doubt, the DQ6's 12-phase power array played a role here, keeping the processor supplied with steady power. Stability was top notch. We ran our DQ6 at its peak stable overclock for several days without a restart, putting it through stress test after stress test and it has yet to falter.
The comprehensiveness of the DQ6's features doesn't end with overclocking options. It crams more onto its standard ATX PCB than many other P965 boards, sporting a grand total of seven expansion slots (although one of the PCI-E X1 slots is nearly useless), four DIMM slots and eight SATA ports. Not to mention the massive passive heatpipe system and all-around solid capacitors. This is definitely one of the best configured P965 boards we've seen. Considering ATi's efforts to bring CrossFire to the P965 chipset, and with quad-core CPUs right around the corner, the DQ6 could get even better in the near future.
The DQ6 is packed with features, from its attempt at squeezing as many expansion slots as the PCB will hold to its fancy cooling setup, it is clear that no expense was spared. No where is this more evident than on the price tag. The DQ6 currently costs about the same as certain cheaper 975X Express boards. According to the HotHardware PriceGrabber Engine, you should be prepared to slap down at least $205 if you want a DQ6 of your own. That's a hefty price to pay for a "mid-range" P965 board. However, we believe the DQ6 is worth the price of admission and we're awarding it an 8.5 on the HotHardware HeatMeter.
Abit AB9 Pro:
The Abit AB9 Pro represents a return to Abit's roots as a creator of cost efficient, high performance, overclocking-friendly motherboards. The AB9 Pro performed well in all of our tests, claiming the top spot again and again. Like many Abit boards before it, the AB9 Pro is no slacker when it comes to overclocking. Although our particular AB9 Pro only achieved a 750 MHz overclock. A full 240MHz less than our DQ6. Abit's uGuru chip and associated utilities make overclocking safer and easier than ever.
Despite a couple of quirks, like a bright pink BIOS background and perplexing IDE and FDD connector placement, ultimately the AB9 Pro's great functionality and performance shines through. While the AB9 Pro doesn't have as many expansion slots as the DQ6, it fields an impressive ten SATA ports and dual gigabit ethernet ports. Unfortunately it lacks a PCI-E X4 slot so CrossFire support is out of the question, but according to Abit, it will run quad core processors.
From cutting out legacy ports to the efficient low profile cooling system, everything about this board screams efficiency. Abit has done a good job of tossing less important features in order to bring the price down while keeping all the goods that an enthusiast would appreciate. This translates into one of the lowest price tags of any P965 board, and it is the cheapest P965 board that uses the ICH8R southbridge, as opposed to the plain ICH8 which lacks RAID, AHCI and native command queuing (NCQ). The HotHardware PriceGrabber has the AB9 Pro for as low as $143. Considering that the AB9 Pro is a well featured, decent overclocker, that's a good deal.
While we thought the Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 is a great motherboard, it simply can't beat the Abit AB9 Pro's amazing value. This is why we are awarding the Abit AB9 Pro an 9 on the HotHardware HeatMeter and declaring it the winner of this comparison.