We recently previewed the Abit AB9-Pro and were intrigued with its performance even though we had a very early BIOS release. Abit recently provided us with a production level BIOS that is undergoing final quality assurance and performance testing prior to release. We were hoping to include this board in our Conroe Buyers Guide but unfortunately we did not receive this pre-release BIOS in time for testing. However, due to the amount of comments and the number of emails we received asking about the performance of the board with Core 2 Duo, we decided to provide a short update utilizing the Buyers Guide benchmarks.

Although the AB9 Pro went on sale a few days ago, the shipping BIOS does not provide the ability to fully configure the memory timings and ratios. We are very glad to report the current beta BIOS implements full configuration of the memory settings through the excellent µGuru overclocking utility. Although this beta BIOS does allow memory settings we found the included options for changing memory timings are very basic at this time. Abit is still optimizing their BIOS code and we expect to see further options along with additional performance enhancements in the very near future. The board was extremely stable during our benchmarking session with the revised BIOS. During our stress tests we did find a couple of minor issues that have been reported to Abit. We expect to see these issues resolved by Abit before public release.


Abit was the top manufacturer of enthusiast level boards just a few short years ago and catered almost exclusively to the overclocking community. However, Abit found itself in serious financial and market troubles as its product portfolio expanded into areas where it did not have the manufacturing expertise or cost advantages to compete with the larger tier one manufacturers. As a result, Abit lost focus on its core competence, the enthusiast and overclocking market, and allowed DFI and others to become the preferred enthusiast brands. Abit was close to ceasing business operations as their product lines did not offer any real price, performance, or product differentiation from others except for their µGuru technology.

Fortunately, Abit entered into a long-term partnership with USI this past January that ensures their financial health for the future and a change in the company name. Universal Abit is the successor to the Abit motherboard brand and has partnered with USI for their manufacturing and engineering expertise. The Abit name will remain as the main identity for products but expect to hear more from Universal Abit as the company transitions itself from strictly IT manufacturing to leading technology design and brand management. This strategic partnership also signals a return of Abit to their roots as a company driven to provide the computer enthusiast and extreme overclocker with the highest performance solutions available.

Intel P965 Express


Intel released the P965 Express MCH and ICH8/R chipsets in June of this year. The highlights of the P965 MCH include Intel's new Fast Memory Access technology, 1066MHz front side bus support, 800MHz DDR-2 memory support, and full support for the new Core 2 Duo processor lineup. The integrated graphics versions, G965 and Q965, will ship with the new GMA X3000 graphics engine for the ViiV and Corporate markets respectively in September. While the P965 is still undergoing growing pains from a BIOS viewpoint, we are finally starting to see these boards in retail channels now with full product releases by all of the major motherboard suppliers by early August. At present the P965 boards only officially support multi-GPU operations through a combination of a X16 PCIe and X4 PCIe slot. This leaves ATI CrossFire support to the older 975X chipset. Those looking for NVIDIA SLI support will have to wait a couple of more weeks before the NVIDIA Intel Edition chipsets are released (or go with the nForce4 ASUS P5N32-SLI SE).

The new ICH8/R chipsets offer ten USB 2.0 ports, up to six 3GB/s SATA ports, Intel's new Quiet System Technology, and the removal of Parallel ATA support. While one could argue this is a needed step forward in technology, we firmly believe that Intel should have waited until the next generation ICH for this change. The Optical Drive market is still about 98% PATA based and does not seem to be changing anytime soon. While this development might spur the optical drive suppliers into offering additional SATA drives in the near future it does not address the requirements of the current PATA installed base. What this means is additional cost and complexity as the motherboard manufacturers will have to add an additional chipset such as the JMicron JMB363 for PATA support.

Now let's take a revised look at the Abit AB9-Pro, this time using a Core 2 Duo processor. We have updated the charts as appropriate.

AB9-Pro Features
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  • Zebo - Monday, July 31, 2006 - link

    I do not understand not finding the MAX FSB of these Conroe Boards by lowering multiplier to say 6-7. Many of us want to buy a Yugo(E6300) and make a Mercedes (3000Mhz +) and with these crappy sub 400Mhz bus speeds shown here: http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/abitab9proupdat...">http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/abitab9proupdat...

    We will be unable to do so. The very best board there can crank a E6300 up to 2800Mhz? Yes or No? No probably but we will never know based on your limited info.
    Reply
  • Tujan - Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - link

    What is the least wattage power supply that would be used with these boards. For examples sake,the Abit board just reviewed ?

    700 watts is fairly large wattage. I would like to use a 450 watt high efficiency unit. Or 500 watt at the most.

    Whats the 'least' wattage power supply that you might use.? Considering you wouldn't be doing any of the tweaks,that is running the board at factory stats. [1]?

    This board is going to cost how much ? [2] Is this board in the same range as the 975s from Intel ? Or within the same range as the 945 MBs wich run the Pentium,Pentium Ds (Prescotts)?

    Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    quote:

    What is the least wattage power supply that would be used with these boards. For examples sake,the Abit board just reviewed ?


    What CPU? Conroe/Pentium D and a X1900XT would still justify 500w range if you expect to upgrade to the next generation video card and also overclock. Conroe and a 7800GT as an example would be fine with a high quality 400~450w power supply and still allow decent headroom for overclocking.

    quote:

    Whats the 'least' wattage power supply that you might use.? Considering you wouldn't be doing any of the tweaks,that is running the board at factory stats. [1]?


    A high quality 400w power supply would be fine, depending on the 12V rails a 350w might suffice with zero overclocking and a 7600 / X1600 level video card, all of this depends on the number of drives, cooling, and cards you add-on.

    quote:

    This board is going to cost how much ?


    At this point, $140, probably come down $125 as more boards are introduced in this price range.
    Reply
  • Tujan - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    Thanks for reply. Yes probably an Antech power supply. True Power,or Smart Power HE unit. Most of my regards in builds doesn't dismiss the overclocker market. Still it is good to know what the normal configuration will require.

    7600GT,or 1600XT, Maybe a single large Sata,or two high-end Sata 3s in Raid 0. USBs in use,keyboard etc. 2 gigs of Ram. Core Duo 6300 . Creative latest sound card. DVD /DVD writer.

    144$,.. not bad for sure.
    Reply
  • xsilver - Monday, July 24, 2006 - link

    does this uguru bios allow on the fly overclocking without reboot? (in windows)

    actually do all motherboards pretty much allow that these days?
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    It normally does, testing a new version now that works with the latest bios and P965. Hopefully, I can report on it before the 965 roundup. Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Monday, July 24, 2006 - link

    7 slot motherboards? First it dropped to 6 slots, and now it's down to 5! With dual slot GPU coolers becoming commonplace, we need all the slots we can get. Reply
  • monsoon - Monday, July 24, 2006 - link

    I know you CONROE overclocking dedicated article is still on the way; I just wanted to mention I'm one among those who would rather see the E6600 results rather than the E6700 or other, if we have to choose one CPU only.

    ...Also, do you think an overclocking comparison between MEROM and CONROE ( and YONAH ) is coming in the future ?

    Thanks for another great article; I'll be drooling until one of those chips is in my hands...

    ;)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, July 24, 2006 - link

    Right now, E6600 chips would top out at the same spot on most motherboards. The boards are holding back the E6700, not the CPU - except for the ASUS P5WDH, of course. So until the companies can get better OC'ing BIOS versions out, you're limited to 9x367 (roughly) with this Abit board.

    As far as comparing Merom and Conroe overclocking, that will be a bit difficult since Merom is going to fit in a different socket and won't be available for a few months more. The most we got out of Yonah on the AOpen motherboard was about 2.8 GHz, Conroe is clearly the better choice for overall performance since high end cooling is allowing people to reach 4.0 GHz and beyond. Merom could be interesting in that it will have higher multipliers so you won't need the high FSB speed support, but the inability to run Merom chips in socket 775 boards means you'll have to go for something like the AOpen board we reviewed, which is very expensive, though granted it's about the same price as most of the 975X Conroe motherboards.
    Reply
  • dugbug - Monday, July 24, 2006 - link

    Do you really think it will be two+ months before we see a merom laptop? What about sneek-preview laptops for review sites? Info on merom can't get here fast enough :) Reply

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