As we mentioned in our Computex 2006 coverage, the rejuvenation of Abit was one of the more welcome surprises of the show. 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 trouble over the past couple of years as its product portfolio expanded to include video cards and a wide range of motherboards from the low end value segment to the upper end enthusiast sector. In essence, Abit tried to expand 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 to become the number one brand name in an area where users are highly passionate about their products.

Toward the end of 2005, 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. While we have not received their new Max or Fatal1ty product lines for review yet, Abit was generous enough to send us their mainstream Intel performance board -- the AB9 Pro -- based upon the new Intel P965 Express chipset.

Intel released the P965 Express MCH and ICH8/R chipsets during Computex 2006. While we will take a closer look at this new mainstream chipset in future articles, 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. 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 that the removal of PATA support 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. This most likely means there will be additional costs and complexity on the motherboards using ICH8 as the manufacturers will have to add an additional chipset for PATA support. (Manufacturers could simply choose not have any PATA ports, but at present we feel such a motherboard would be doomed to fail.)

Abit will be one of the first manufacturers to market with a P965 based board and we will take a quick but strictly preview look at the AB9 Pro today. While this motherboard is a production release unit, the BIOS is still undergoing almost daily revisions at this time. We will state at this point that our current BIOS release offers significant functionality, very good base performance, but will not yet allow us to change memory speeds or timings. Please keep this in mind as you compare the performance results against our Asus 975X based board. We will give this board a more in depth review during our forthcoming Intel Core 2 Duo motherboard roundup. Let's see what this board has to offer at this time.

Board Layout and Features


View All Comments

  • CYBERX1800XT - Thursday, July 6, 2006 - link

    it's going to take alot to convince me that abit's quality in electroitics(resistors,capicitors,pnp transistors and voltage regulators) hasn't overshadowed there so-called new make over. all i have to say is 'anyone remember the abit be-6 revision 2?? i do,,i also remember 12 hours after buying an abit mobo,,at least 14 caps literally blew up. so all this halla-ballhooey about the product line refreshment may just be hype. i'm not scowling at anyone at anandtech,,i believe and trust there reviews. who i don't trust is abit's choice in 2nd or 3rd rate electroitics. besides,,who cares,,this is a rather whimpy board. for the cost of this mobo,,you could easily spend 20 more bucks and get a ASUS A8R-MVP,,and have crossfire to boot. i'm sorry to sound so negative,,but abit left a bad taste in my mouth in 2000. and it has yet to have left. i honestly apologize to everyone at anandtech. not demeaning any of you guys,i totally trust your revievs. but i switched to amd,,and i only bought 1 abit board. and that will never happen again. i will ONLY use ASUS!!! Reply
  • araczynski - Wednesday, July 5, 2006 - link

    personally i find the inclusion of onboard audio on ALL motherboards to be quite the waste of consumer dollars. what kind of an "enthusiast" puts up with onboard audio? granted its more then fine for windows, but when you're aiming a mobo at an enthusiast you don't have to make him pay for some crappy soundchip that he'll never do more with then disable in the bios.

    and yes, get rid of the floppy connector (usb version for those that can't live without them).
  • Pirks - Wednesday, July 5, 2006 - link


    personally i find the inclusion of onboard audio on ALL motherboards to be quite the waste of consumer dollars
    Not quite that simple - it's actually cheaper to make mobos with audio than without it. With audio you have one manufacturing line cranking out mobos, just one model => CHEAP. If you wanna get mobos w/o audio, you gonna get TWO manufacturing lines cranking out mobos => EXPENSIVE. This is why they always produce only ONE SINGLE MOBO MODEL, EVERYTHING INCLUDED - all the floppy and legacy crap - 'cause that's CHEAP. You go to options, exclude this, exclude that blah blah - and the price -wooosh!- soars up to clouds and the blue sky :)
  • bob4432 - Wednesday, July 5, 2006 - link

    glad to see a floppy is still around. i am probably the only person that uses one, but i appreciatet the m/b manf for taking me into consideration :D Reply
  • afrodite - Tuesday, July 4, 2006 - link

    Say what!?!

    The problem here is the boneheaded optical drive manufacturers not using SATA on their drives, not Intel removing obsolete technology.

    I say:
    Get rid of PATA
    Get rid of Floppy-drives
    Get rid of mouse and keyboard ports

    Then use all that lovely real estate on the board to put a digital tv receiver or bluetooth-module or wifi or firewire or just more USB-slots or whatever you want..

    Please, what year is it now, 2006 or 1996.. floppydrive connectors on a "next-gen motherboard"??
  • mine - Saturday, July 8, 2006 - link

    second that

    iwhat about the following scenario.... you will never forget that :

    3 young Mac videoeditors rolling on the floor with wet trousers looking @ a Windows XP install with an open case
    an attached floppy and F6

    these people have never seen a floppy in their whole life and these things are one click away on Mac OS X
  • Pirks - Tuesday, July 4, 2006 - link


    I say: Get rid of PATA Get rid of Floppy-drives Get rid of mouse and keyboard ports Then use all that lovely real estate on the board to put a digital tv receiver or bluetooth-module or wifi or firewire or just more USB-slots or whatever you want.
    Hmm, why this smells like a Mac? ;)
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, July 4, 2006 - link

    Until we have the replacements ready, completely removing support for older technologies is jumping the gun. We need a next-generation operating system that doesn't ever require a floppy drive (which we will get with Windows Vista). More importantly, we need SATA optical drives that are at least as good as the PATA counterparts, and with equivalent prices. Right now, I'm only aware of one company making SATA DVDR drives (Plextor), and the consensus seems to be that the drives aren't all that great. Widespread support for SATA optical drives (meaning software support -- what good is a DVDR if your favorite burning application doesn't support it?) is still lacking.

    The end result is that every motherboard manufacturer that uses ICH8 is pretty much forced to include another chip on the motherboard to handle IDE support. Intel isn't getting rid of IDE support; they're just placing the burden of including such support on the motherboard manufacturers. Seriously, how many transistors does it take to support IDE? Perhaps the reason it was removed was to reduce pin counts on the Southbridge, but I doubt it. We're not even asking for anything special in terms of IDE support; just include the same old IDE support that has been present on motherboards for the past decade or so.
  • jonp - Monday, July 3, 2006 - link


    We utilized the stock heatsink/fan in our normal testing but also verified a couple of larger Socket-775 cooling solutions would fit in this area during our overclocking tests.


    Cooling: Zalman CNPS9500

    Is the Zalman unit "stock"?
  • Gary Key - Monday, July 3, 2006 - link

    We used the stock retail heatsink for all testing except overclocking. We use the Zalman for overclocking and also tried the Tuniq 120 for fitment issues. Reply

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