abit was the top manufacturer of enthusiast level boards a few short years ago, but after they expanded into areas where they didn't have the manufacturing expertise or cost advantages to compete with the larger tier one manufacturers they fell on hard times. As a result, abit lost market share as well as mind share. Fortunately, abit entered into a long-term partnership with USI about a year ago that ensures their financial health for the near future, and they also had a minor name change. Universal abit is the successor to the Abit motherboard brand name and represents a partnership with USI for their manufacturing and engineering expertise. Along with the name change comes a grassroots movement to return the company to the forefront of the computer enthusiast, extreme overclocker, and high performance markets.


The first wave of products last summer from Universal abit was interesting to say the least. In some cases like the abit AW9D-MAX they released a top performer that reminded us of the old Abit; in other areas, however, we found boards like the AB9 Pro represented a crossroads in abit's new product launch. Would this series of motherboards continue the downward spiral of being late to market with average performing products like the previous product launches, or would the new Universal abit have products that would capture the minds and hearts of the enthusiast community once again?

The AB9 Pro held great promise in our early looks, but it quickly turned into disappointment at launch and finally redeemed itself near the end of its product cycle with the 1.6 BIOS. abit took tremendous criticism for the AB9's poor layout and early BIOS issues when the product launched. The layout and hardware component issues could not be addressed after product release but after several BIOS releases most of the initial performance and compatibility issues were solved. While the board layout and pink BIOS setup screen did nothing for us (or probably anyone else for that matter), the fact that abit engineering took the time to properly address performance and compatibility issues impressed us. They also promised to correct the mistakes of the past with the next P965 product release.

The $64,000 question once again is: Did they learn from history and thus avoid repeat condemnation?" The answer is yes and no. The abit AB9 QuadGT's layout, choice of components, feature set, and BIOS options appear to have been developed in an alternate universe when compared to the AB9 Pro. Sadly, the BIOS engineering and quality assurance groups appear to have taken two steps backwards and remain firmly stationed in the current universe. We will discuss these issues shortly but for now let's take a first look at the board's feature set and initial performance results.

Feature Set
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  • Gary Key - Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - link

    E6600 Results so far -

    7x525 - http://img402.imageshack.us/img402/2339/abitq7x525...">http://img402.imageshack.us/img402/2339/abitq7x525...

    7x535 - http://img261.imageshack.us/img261/687/abitq7x535s...">http://img261.imageshack.us/img261/687/abitq7x535s...

    CPU-Z - http://img345.imageshack.us/img345/3088/abitq7x535...">http://img345.imageshack.us/img345/3088/abitq7x535...
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, January 22, 2007 - link

    Yeah, from what I've read, the Gigabyte DS3 was it ? Has issues with the Micron D9 chips for the longest (and may still have). Keep in mind, that among multitudes of Motherboard OEMs, Gigabyte would be in my mind, top tier, and I have the highest regard for them.

    It just so happens that ABIT is what I prefer, because of the experiences I've had with stability using their main boards.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, January 22, 2007 - link

    quote:

    We really like the board and were impressed with its overall performance. In fact, the board just seems to be light years ahead of the AB9 Pro, but an otherwise excellent design is ruined by an immature BIOS. The issues we discovered during testing make us wonder if the light is on at abit's quality assurance department.


    If you guys had dealt with ABIT for any amount of time, you would know that this happens quite often with a new motherboard from them. The key here is, ABIT almost as a rule, continues working on their BIOS' for around a year, after a new motherboard is released, and they typically work out most of the bad kinks in the first few months. I'm quite surprised that you fellas at anandtech did not know this, or at least would mention this.

    Anyhow, just like every other company out there, not all of ABIT products are perfect. However, even though their forums are not 'maintained' by them, their forums group is top notch, and most of the time, you can get the scoop an any given motherboard made by ABIT there. Hell, I've even gone to ABITs forums for support on products ABIT didnt even make, and have found solutions rather fast . . .
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - link

    Hi,

    We have dealt with abit for a long time. I spent time in their California offices in November and Taiwan in December going over the new product launches to ensure the issues we have noticed in the past couple of product releases were not repeated again. The design issues were solved and the BIOS issues should not have happened. We have mentioned these issues in previous articles, look at my three briefings on the AB9 Pro. ;)
    We expressed our concerns about the BIOS maturity on the AB9 series and they launched anyway with a BIOS that rendered most of the boards useless and led to a recall. We are getting frustrated with reporting our findings during testing and then seeing the boards released anyway with flaws that are easily fixed for the most part. I have been an abit fan for a long time and understand their routines but there is a difference in knowing about an issue before release and ignoring it or finding an issue after release that was one of twenty five thousand combinations not tested.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - link

    Ah, forgot to mention, My board is an ABIT NF7-S2G, the actual owner of the business here (also a friend) has been using an AS8 for around 2 years now, one of the other techs, is using an ABIT simular to mine, but is an Intel system baord (sorry dont remember the model of hand), and a friend who has been staying here with us for a few months, is using an AW8-MAX. SO its not like we ALL bought the same board, etc. Matter of a fact, I'm in the minority, with the only AMD systems here . . . Well, actually, the owner did just recently buy an NF-M2 nView, but its not working yet (still waiting on newegg, for the DDR2 6400 Corsair sticks . . .) Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - link

    Well, Gary, just by reading your posts here and there (anandtech, and abits forums) I can tell you know what you're talking about. I can also see, from your posts on their forums, that you are going way out of your way to help them nail what problems you do find. This is a very good thing for them whether they know it or not (but I'm sure they do). I for one, would really hate to see ABIT go by the way side, and feel compelled to thank you for helping them create a better product.

    My main *bitch* about the article wasn't that you guys found the ABIT board to be inferior because of the BIOS, but because of the way it was said, which to the un-initiated could be misleading. I think a mention of ABITs attention to detail, of their BIOSes over time would be very appropriate.

    I'm going to sound like a fan boi here in saying this, but we have approx 10 ABIT boards, of varying age, and the majority of them still run perfectly (ranging from 1-8 years old), and every single one is very stable. Now one of which is mine (an ABIT KT7A-RAID100 board) did die after 5-6 years of use, because of leaking capacitors, so its not like these boards are perfect forever. We also have other random OEM boards, which have lasted this long as well, one of which is a server / workstation Tyan board, and I believe the rest are mostly Intel boards (its a shame they don't make them like they used to any more).

    There are three of us here, we are all in the IT business, and I think it speaks highly that all three of us, all use ABIT boards. Now, this is not because we are fans of ABIT (well, we really are), but there is a reason, the simple fact that they all arrived working, all are very stable, and they continue working for years on end, without much, if any problems. Now if <insert OEM here> had proven themselves to us, I'm sure we would be using their boards instead, but thats not how things worked out.

    I'm sure you remember my posts about my current desktop system board from last year, if not let me refresh your memory. Asrock AM2NF4G-SATA2 system board. It's only saving grace, sadly, is that it only cost me $54usd, and could be tossed into the garbage when, and if I get the funds for something better, which in fact is the ONLY reason I bought it to begin with. Now look at the life cycle of this companies BIOSes. 2-3 Months after this board was released, they stopped updating their drivers (most of which were from last year already anyhow), and BIOSes haven't been updated either. This, to me, is way worse than the issues mentioned in the article, however, the board was also pretty dahmed cheap.

    I just wish the NF-M2 nView board had been released when I got around to buying this one. That is the one thing I do not like about ABIT, they tend to take much longer, than the rest, to release <insert chipset here> system boards. I've found also, that in the long run however, this thing I do not like about them, also works in their favor, because usually their boards, are a cut above the rest, concerning stability.

    Now on to the things you were talking about, such as releasing products with known flaws, and doing nothing about it, well, I can not really comment on this, because I have nothing to go on, except, what you're saying. I believe you, however, at the same time, I find it really hard to believe, that if a company that was REALLY as bad, as the article stated (at least, this is how it seemed to me), that myself, and my two associates would be using ABIT boards, and very happy with them, especially since we fix / build systems daily. Now, if only we all could agree, on who makes the best processor . . . ;)

    Gary, thank you for helping the motherboard manufacturer I prefer, better themselves.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, January 22, 2007 - link

    We know that's how abit tends to operate, and the simple fact is that it's a lousy way to run a computer hardware company. People who look at buying quality motherboards want quality NOW, not in six or nine months. Given the choice between two P965 boards that cost similar amounts (i.e. ASUS P5B Deluxe and this new abit QuadGT), which would you take, knowing that abit tends to perform a bit better but still has BIOS issues? Would you be happy with a board that runs faster but has some bugs, or a slightly slower board that's very stable?

    Most people I'm sure would opt for better stability over a few percent of a performance boost. Having a great support network is nice, but I'd rather have a good product that never requires me to seek out such support in the first place if at all possible.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, January 22, 2007 - link

    Jarred, I've been using mostly ABIT boards for years (as in close to 10 years), and this is how things have always operated with them since at least the early to mid 90's when I bought my first ABIT board. I've owned motherboards from just about every motherboard manufacturer out there, and what I haven't personally owned I have at least had experiences with through customers, or friends.

    To answer your question about which would I take ? Hands down the ABIT board (assuming id buy a P965 board, which I wouldn't) Why do you ask? Past dealings with both companies since the early 90's, and recently. As an example, I purchased an ABIT NF7-S2G right when they were released, this board exhibited similar problems to what you're referring to here. Yes, I was a little upset that the board wasn't 100% stable, because of BIOS issues, HOWEVER, one week later, they released a BIOS for the board, that was rock stable, and the system had been happily running Windows XP for months on end, without reboots, 24/7, until now, its found a home, as my Dapper 6.06 LTS AoE SAN system. I haven't looked lately, but they did continue to release BIOSes for this board past a year of the boards release, since my current system is solid as a rock, I didn't bother with newer BIOSes, since everything I wanted, ran perfectly.

    Now about Asus, you guys really do not want me going down that road, I have nothing good to say. As for their Daughter company, Asrock . . .stay away, again, is all I would recommend. DFI ? Recently, no idea, but past dealing with them have ruined their reputation in my eyes long ago.

    All this being said, I think it is good that you guys are informing your public about the quirks of the newly released motherboard. You guys did the right thing, HOWEVER, again, you left out an important fact, that the BIOS team at ABIT is top notch, and continues putting out BIOSes long after the board has been released. This is a very important factor.

    As for someone who needs a working board RIGHT NOW, well, all I can say is, not only do you get what you pay for, but you also get what you research for. IF you HAVE to have something RIGHT_NOW, you're never going to be happy, but if you take your time, research the parts you're buying, and perhaps practice a bit of patience, you stand a very good chance of getting what you want /need. Also, keep in mind, you're comparing a motherboard that has been out for a while now, to one that has just been released.

    As for stability, you guys have already stated numerous times something to the effect '*this* ABIT board has exhibited the stability we have become accustomed to using ABIT motherboards' You know dahmed well, ABIT is not going to stand by, doing nothing, while one of their high-middle end motherboards is not performing stably, another important fact left out of the review.
    Reply
  • Operandi - Monday, January 22, 2007 - link

    It would have been nice if you could have went into the advantages and disadvantages (I'm assuming there are disadvantages) of the PWM that supplies the CPU with power without the use of any capacitors.

    Also, I like the inclusion of fan control info but maybe you can list which headers are 4 pin and which are 3 pin in the future as well as possibly giving us a screen shot of fan control portion of the BIOS?

    Good review though.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - link

    We will show the EQ BIOS settings in the final review and also go over the digital PWM advantages or at least the theory behind it. Reply

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