Abit AV8: Features and Layout


 Abit AV8 Motherboard Specifications
CPU Interface Socket 939 Athlon 64
Chipset VIA K8T800 PRO/VT8237
Bus Speeds 200MHz to 336MHz (in 1MHz increments)
CPU Ratios 4x - 25x in 1x increments
PCI/AGP Speeds CPU:AGP:PCI - Fixed, 6:2:1, 7:2:1, 8:2:1
HyperTransport Auto, 200MHz to 1GHz (1x-5x)
Core Voltage 1.50V to 1.85V in 0.025V increments
DRAM Voltage 2.50V to 2.8V in 0.05V increments
AGP Voltage 1.50V - 1.65V in 0.05V increments
NB (Northbridge) Voltage 1.50V - 1.65V in 0.05V increments
SB (Southbridge) Voltage 2.50V - 2.65V in 0.05V increments
HT (HyperTransport) Voltage 1.20V - 1.40V in 0.05V increments
Memory Slots Four 184-pin DDR DIMM Slots
Dual-Channel Unbuffered Memory to 4GB
Expansion Slots 1 AGP 8X Slot
5 PCI Slots
Onboard SATA/IDE RAID 2 SATA 150 drives by VIA VT8237
Can be combined in RAID 0, 1, JBOD
Onboard IDE Two Standard VIA ATA133/100/66 (4 drives)
Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394 8 USB 2.0 ports supported by VIA VT8237
3 IEEE 1394 FireWire Ports
Onboard LAN Gigabit Ethernet by VIA VT6122 PCI
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC658
6-Channel with SPDIF
Tested BIOS 1.3

The AV8 is Abit's flagship board for the Athlon 64, and you can certainly see this reflected in the features lavished on the AV8. Compared to the 754 version that we recently tested, Abit includes 3 Firewire ports on the AV8. True to their tradition as an overclocker's board, Abit has not included additional RAID, IDE or SATA controllers on the AV8. However, you will find that the VIA SATA RAID in the VT8237 Southbridge is fully supported. Abit has also used VIA chips for Firewire and LAN, but the VIA LAN is PCI-based and not on-chip as we see featured on the nVidia nF3-250 boards.

The overclocking controls are typically Abit in that they are a wonderful selection of voltages and frequencies to get the most from the K8T800 PRO and the Athlon 64. Particularly notable are the voltage adjustments for the Northbridge, Southbridge, and chipset - in addition to the expected voltage adjustments. The only surprise here is memory voltage, which is somewhat limited to 2.8V in BIOS. The latest version of uGuru (2.11) does not offer any additional vDIMM adjustments, so you are left with a top voltage of 2.8, which is limited for a board geared toward overclockers. We first tested uGuru in our review of the Abit KV8 Max3, and it continues to evolve as a very useful tool for the overclocker.

The first thing that we looked for was a working PCI/AGP lock, and we are pleased to report that the AV8 fully supports the AGP/PCI lock and a full range of ratios for overclocking the 939 processors. This is important because all Athlon 64 processors are unlocked downward, a side-effect of AMD Cool'n'Quiet technology. This means that any Athlon 64 can be set to lower CPU multipliers and higher frequencies to get the most out of high-speed memory. In addition, the Athlon 64 FX chips are completely unlocked, so both higher and lower ratios can be selected.

The Abit AV8 actually runs at 204 speed when the frequency is set to default, but we were able to force a 200 CPU frequency in BIOS for testing. All of the recent Abit boards that we have tested have been set to 204 at default, so be cautious in comparing review results unless the reviewer corrected the CPU frequency in testing an Abit motherboard.



Abit uses flat edge connectors for IDE connections, which does a very good job of removing any interference from the bulky IDE cables. We like the edge connectors, but some case designs make it very difficult to connect the edge-connectors. The bulky 20-pin ATX and 4-pin 12V connectors are both between the CPU and the back panel I/O ports, which makes routing the 20-pin ATX without blocking air flow a challenge in most case designs. Abit included the 2-digit diagnostic LEDs, which can be very useful for troubleshooting.

Index Abit AV8: Overclocking and Stress Testing
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  • harsaphes - Sunday, October 10, 2004 - link

    just set up my a8v board. no go on firewire, will not see ipod or external firewire drive. any idea?...bad board maybe? Reply
  • kd4yum - Thursday, August 05, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • Fender - Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - link

    The first words in this review confirm that you should never buy a VIA product before they revised it! (KT266 to 400 saga anyone?)
    Also, it's oddly that Hyperions used here are 8 months old...
    It could be interesting if you include, in your tests, any possible issue concerning OS installation or updating drivers (from the CD included in the box to the updated drivers from the manufacturer's site) because this is what happens to most buyers out there. Remember that you're testing a 64bit CPU with a 32bit OS, and drivers development will be a further support insurance.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    #79 - Page 13 is corrected. That error slipped past 3 proofreaders. Thank you for alerting us. Reply
  • Sidewinder0010 - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    the k8t neo2 overclocking page has a typo that was throwing me off
    "much lower than the 290 on the K8T Neo2"
    That should be changed to k8n neo2
    Reply
  • Compddd - Friday, July 30, 2004 - link

    Wesley, did Asus say when the A8V Rev 2.0 will be hitting Retail Stores like Fry's, Best Buy, etc? Reply
  • thebluesgnr - Friday, July 30, 2004 - link

    How does the lower bandwidth (4900Mb/s) affect real world performance?

    One more thing, perhaps the MSI K8T Neo2 Platinum references should be changed to MSI K8T Neo2-FIR? That's the name of this board on MSI's site, there's no mention of it being a Platinum board. And here's a link of all the boards in the Platinum series: http://www.msicomputer.com/pressrelease/platinum.a...

    Off-Topic: Wesley, will there be reviews on AnandTech of Socket A mobos based on the nForce2 Ultra 400Gb and VIA KT880 chipsets? They offer the exact same features of the mobos on this roundup, and with the new Semprons and the good XP-Mobiles I suspect a lot of your readers are still interested in this socket.
    Sorry for the off-topic.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, July 30, 2004 - link

    #75 - You are confusing boards as MSI had TWO boards in the roundup. We had no problems at all with the first or second K8N Neo2 (based on nForce3 Ultra) we tested, and that is the board that received the Gold Editors Choice. The MSI K8T Neo2, based on the VIA K8T800 PRO, was the problem board and we definitely did NOT give the K8T Neo2 an award.

    #74 - On page 5 we talk about the memory bandwidth differences in 1T and 2T command rates: "The best performance is at a Command Rate of 1T, and the Abit AV8 was completely stable at a 1T setting with 2 DIMMs. Standard memory bandwidth measured with SiSoft Sandra 2004 SP2 shows a 6000 MB/s bandwidth with 1T Command Rate compared to a 5000 MB/s bandwidth with a 2T setting." This is also mentioned on page 11: "While a full memory comparison of the nVidia and VIA chipsets is beyond the scope of this roundup, we did run several SiSoft Sandra 2004 SP2 runs of the memory test module. At default settings, and the aggressive 2-2-2-10 timings on the FX53, the nF3-250 Ultra showed memory bandwidth in the 6100 range for FPU and Float. The same test on the VIA K8T800 PRO boards showed memory bandwidth in the 6000 range. Performance of both chipsets at the 1T setting was very similar. 2T Command Rates, with everything else the same, generated bandwidths of 4900 to 5000Mb/second."

    Reply
  • Z80 - Friday, July 30, 2004 - link

    Considering your statement "Our concern is based on the fact that we went through 3 K8T Neo2 boards before we got one that really worked" I'm surprised that you went ahead and gave the MSI board your gold award. I see that MSI is being sued for intentionally using capacitors that were made with an improperly-formulated electrolyte solution. My personal experience with MSI quality assurance was never good at least back in the day it wan't but maybe they have changed like you say OCZ has? I'll stick with Asus and Abit, thank you. Reply
  • SignalPST - Friday, July 30, 2004 - link

    quote from the article:
    "We even found that all six of the tested motherboards performed at the fastest timings available and a 2T Command Rate with 4 DIMMs on board, so even that is a non-issue."

    Does that mean that if 4 sticks of ram are installed, there won't be a performance hit and it will work just as fast as 2 sticks installed?
    Reply

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