ABIT NI8 SLI: Feature Set

 Abit NI8 SLI
CPU Interface Supports Socket 775 for Intel® Pentium 4 / Pentium 4 EE / Pentium D / Pentium XE / Celeron D processors
Supports Intel® Hyper-Threading / XD-bit / EM64T Technology
Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology
Chipset NVIDIA C19/ MCP-04
NVIDIA Gigabit Ethernet with NVIDIA Firewall
Supports NV SATA 3G RAID
Bus Speeds Supports 1066/800MHz FSB
Memory Speeds 400Mhz-1300Mhz in 1 Mhz increments
PCIe Speeds Asynchronous - Fixed at 100
Adjustable from 100Mhz-148.4 Mhz
PCI Fixed at 33Mhz
Core Voltage Auto, 1.3875V to 1.55V in 0.025V increments
DRAM Voltage Auto, 1.75V to 2.3V in .05V increments
FSB Frequency 100Mhz-325Mhz in 1 Mhz increments
HyperTransport Multiplier Auto, 1X to 5X
C19 Northbridge Voltage 1.4V, no adjustments
Memory Slots Four 240-pin DIMM sockets
Supports dual channel DDR2 667 non-ECC un-buffered memory
Supports maximum memory capacity up to 8GB
Expansion Slots 2 PCIe x16
2 PCIe x1
2 PCI Slots
Onboard SATA II/RAID 4 SATA II Drives by NVIDIA MCP-04 (RAID 0, 1, Raid 0+1)
2 SATA II 3Gbps Drives by Silicon Image 3231 (Raid 0/1 NCQ)
Onboard IDE Two Ultra DMA ATA133/100/66/33 connectors
Onboard USB 2.0 3 USB 2.0 headers
Onboard LAN NVIDIA Gigabit Ethernet
NVIDIA Secure Networking Engine
Onboard Audio 7.1 Channel AudioMAX card
BIOS Revision Award (8/24/2005)


Click to enlarge.

The NI8 SLI 6 layer PCB is manufactured in the original ABIT standard "orange" color popularized years ago and an Abit trademark look. The layout of components for the most part is very good, but a couple of areas stand out glaringly.

The Silicon Image 3132 controlled SATA 5 + 6 ports are in a very precarious position, located just left of the C19 Northbridge. If you plan on using these as part of your setup, you had best plan on buying extra long cables and developing a routing scheme to keep them clear of other components.

The floppy connector is also not in the most useable position, particularly if you have a mid-mounted floppy drive. Again, a longer than supplied cable in most cases would be necessary. IDE and floppy connectors don't belong on the PCB's bottom, and if at all possible, they should be on the right edge of the PCB as was common practice in the past. It just lends to a cleaner installation with less cabling clutter. The trend lately has been to place them on the bottom of the PCB due in part to other component positioning on the mainboard.

Cable routing is the 4-pin Molex next to the floppy connector is also a concer. Unless you have a non-standard case layout with the power supply at the bottom, getting power to the Molex connector will create a bit of a cabling nightmare. The ATX12V connector is also between the CPU socket and NB, but this is a common location and presents less of a problem than some of the other component positions.

The last concern in the notable omission of any Firewire ports on this board, This is a feature you will find on almost every other board in the Abit's Premium class at about a $200 price point. With so many devices being produced that use this specification it is a real puzzle that it was not considered as part of the NI8 SLI specifications.

The placement of all remaining components such as IDE and SATA 1-4, 24pin main power connector etc. are very accessible. Most users will be able to cope with the layout concerns we've mentioned, but they are still less than ideal.

Index ABIT NI8 SLI: Feature Set (Cont'd)
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  • jojo4u - Friday, October 07, 2005 - link

    The graphs give a nice overview, good work.

    Please consider to include the information what AF level was used into the graphs. This is something all recent reviews here have have been lacking.

    About the image quality: The shimmering was greatly reduced with the fixed driver (78.03). So it's down to NV40 level now. But 3dCenter.de[1] and Computerbase.de conclude that only enabling "high quality" in the Forceware brings comparable image quality to "A.I. low". Perhaps you find the time to explore this issue in the image quality tests.

    [1] http://www.3dcenter.de/artikel/g70_flimmern/index_...">http://www.3dcenter.de/artikel/g70_flimmern/index_...
    This article is about the unfixed quality. But to judge the G70 today, have a look at the 6800U videos.
    http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=1549&am...">http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=1549&am...
    This article shows the performance hit of enabling "high quality"
    Reply
  • jojo4u - Friday, October 07, 2005 - link

    oops wrong forum Reply
  • Avalon - Friday, October 07, 2005 - link

    Thanks for the clarification Wesley, and welcome aboard Randi! Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, October 07, 2005 - link

    Please welcome Randi Sica as our newest reviewer at AnandTech. Randi is a friend who is well known in the Extreme Overclocking community as Mr. Icee. That gives Randi a keen eye when looking at what's right and wrong with a motherboard from an Extreme Overclocker's perspective.

    We think you will also find Randi's review perspective and approach a little different. Those who have been screaming for overclocked benchmarks in board reviews will find them in Randi's reviews.

    This is Randi's first review at AnandTech, so please make him feel welcomed.
    Reply
  • yacoub - Friday, October 07, 2005 - link

    PASSIVELY COOLED! That's soooo appealing. I wish board makers could get the northbridges cool enough on the AMD chipset to make more passively cooled boards. I hate having another fan in the case, especially a tiny one running at high revs making a racket. It's bad enough most GPUs suffer from that, we don't need another one on the mobo. :( Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Friday, October 07, 2005 - link

    Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I don't think the audio is on the PCI-E bus. The codec hangs directly off the southbridge, and isn't on any bus. If you look at the slot the audio card goes in, it's actually a PCI-E 1x connector turned backwards. I'm assuming that they use that particular connector because it's cheaper than designing something custom. Still, not a bad job on the CPU utilization.

    BTW, the chip is an ALC850, not ACL850 as mentioned on page 3.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, October 07, 2005 - link

    Thanks for pointing this out. The references to the audio connector have been corrected to "dedicated audio connector" which it is unless we hear otherwise from Abit. We have seen the separate dedicated audio card can significantly reduce CPU overhead, and Abit seems to have done well with this idea on this board. Reply
  • Live - Friday, October 07, 2005 - link

    Enough said... Reply
  • Avalon - Friday, October 07, 2005 - link

    quote:

    The superior Workstation performance demonstrated here involves two parts: the ABIT NI8 SLI coupled to the D840 EE Dual core P4. The other boards compared here feature a standard single core solution


    Wait, what? You are comparing a dual core HT enabled system with several other Intel systems using only a single core? How is this apples to apples? This makes all of the benchmarks you did worthless.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, October 07, 2005 - link

    ALL tests used the exact same CPU except the Workstation test results. That means general performance, encoding, DX9, and DX8 gaming were tested on all reported platforms with the Pentium D 840EE.

    The Workstation Tests were included because they were an interesting picture of a 3.6GHz single core being soundly outperformed by a 3.2GHz dual-core Pentium D. The workstation tests were meant to be an illustration, not a direct comparison.

    The 3.46EE was used in some past memory tests to achieve high memory bus speeds, and the reference was only made in examing overclocked memory FSB speed records - not comparative performance.

    We will make this clearer in the review, but all of the benchmarks except Worksation are definitely apples to apples tests - even down to HT being enabled in all tests.
    Reply

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