We recently previewed the Abit AB9-Pro motherboard based on the P965 chipset and were impressed with its stock performance even though we had difficulty overclocking it with the early production BIOS. Abit has released a new performance oriented BIOS and we will be revisiting its performance in our upcoming P965 shootout. In the meantime Abit has been busily preparing their flagship Intel motherboard based on the 975X chipset. Abit recently provided us with a production level AW9D-MAX motherboard along with a beta BIOS that is undergoing final quality assurance and performance testing prior to going into production next week. We were hoping to have a production level BIOS available in time for a full review of the board against its competition from ASUS, DFI, Foxconn, and MSI. However, due to amount of comments and emails we received asking about the performance of the board we decided to provide a short preview utilizing a subset of our current benchmark suite.

Although the AW9D-MAX will be going on sale shortly, Abit is still optimizing their BIOS code and we expect to see further options along with additional performance enhancements before shipment. We are very glad to report the current BIOS is in significantly better shape than we expected as is the excellent µGuru overclocking utility. The latest beta BIOS does have a few issues that we will discuss later but overall the board worked as advertised during our benchmarking session. More importantly the current BIOS code is very stable based upon our stress tests and easily overclocked to levels that matched or exceeded our ASUS P5W-DH. We expect to see any BIOS issues resolved by Abit before public release of the motherboard. While Abit offered a previous 975X based motherboard under the AW8D-MAX moniker (which lacks Core 2 Duo compatibility) we can ensure you that the two boards are world's apart in performance, design, and overclocking capabilities. While the AW8D-MAX was a solid board with very good performance, it was too late to market and just did not seem to deserve the MAX logo. We knew Abit could do better in the performance area and at first glance they have certainly succeeded.

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 over the few years 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 to become the number one brand name. 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 975X Chipset

Click to enlarge

The chart above lists the standard feature set available to manufacturers using the Intel 82975X chipset that has been available for almost a year now. The 975X chipset offers 16 PCI Express lanes that can be configured as a single PCI Express X16 graphics port or two PCI Express X8 ports for multi-view or dual-GPU capability. The 975X fully supports ATI CrossFire technology at this time. The chipset features Intel Memory Pipeline Technology (MPT), Intel Flex Memory Technology, 8GB memory addressability, and ECC memory support. The Intel MPT has been enhanced over the 955X iteration to offer improved pipelining. This enables a higher utilization of each memory channel resulting in better performance through increased transfers between the processor and system memory. Intel Flex Memory Technology allows different memory sizes to be populated and still remain in dual-channel mode. The architecture also supports both asynchronous and isochronous data traffic, with dedicated internal pipelines and specialized arbitration along with improved electricals for better memory latency compared to the 955X chipset.

The ICH7R chipsets offer eight USB 2.0 ports, up to four 3Gb/s SATA ports, six available PCI Express Lanes, six PCI ports, Ultra 100/66/33 Parallel ATA support, and HD audio support. When compared to the newer ICH8R chipset utilized in the P965 motherboards, the ICH7R offers two less USB 2.0 and 3Gb/s SATA ports but offers native PATA support. This leads us into today's preview, so let's take a closer look at the Abit AW9D-MAX features and performance.

Basic Features


View All Comments

  • Jedi2155 - Friday, September 8, 2006 - link

    Oh heck yea! I thought I was going to have to go with Asus P5B deluxe board mainly due to the color scheme as I'm a bigger fan of Black & Blue than Black & Red. Too bad for all those other people who prefer red tho. Reply
  • wolf550e - Friday, September 8, 2006 - link

    How much is Scyhte paying you? Reply
  • Madellga - Friday, September 8, 2006 - link

    Actually his review is very neutral and not a PR stunt.

    This space is to discuss the review itself and the product there.
    If you want to make such comments I suggest paging him, instead of writing here on the open.

  • Gary Key - Friday, September 8, 2006 - link


    How much is Scyhte paying you?

    Actually I paid NewEgg $51.99 for the pleasure of using the Scythe Infinity. :) Scythe does not advertise with us and the picture was published based upon numerous reader requests wanting to know how the larger heatsinks fit on the boards. I still love and use the Tuniq 120 but until they are readily available again my current air cooling favorite is the Infinity. Just in case it comes up, the E6600 was also bought from NewEgg and is not supplied by Intel.
  • DigitalFreak - Friday, September 8, 2006 - link


    Overall, the new color scheme gives the board a very clean yet menacing look worthy of the MAX designation.

    LOL! First time I've ever heard a motherboard described as "menacing".
  • mostlyprudent - Friday, September 8, 2006 - link

    I am very pleased to see Abit producing a strong board again. Two of my older systems are still running with Abit boards (4 years old and 2.5 years old) with no issues. I am still deciding, but the PCI slot issue is a tough pill to swallow.

    BTW, there is a type-o in the last paragraph on page 3 "Although this 'typcially' worked..."
  • GoatMonkey - Friday, September 8, 2006 - link

    I used to be a big Abit fan. I bought 5 Abit motherboard for myself over the years, and built at least 4 other systems for friends with Abit motherboards. Unfortunately, over half of them failed after several months of use. Abit really needs a good warranty and some good testimonial of quality to get me back. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Friday, September 8, 2006 - link

    ABIT has a decent warranty policy, the only problem is that they exchange 're-certified' boards for your new one.

    We've had to deal with ABITs RMA a couple of times in the last two years, and while they did replace the boards, the process was slow, and again, they replace it with a re-certified board. However, it turned out it wasnt the motherboard that was bad at all, but a ATI videocard (pre-PCIE, and additional card power), that was drawing too much power from the AGP slot.

    ABIT forums, while not owned or paricipated by any ABIT workers (that I know of), is second to none. If you cannot find someone on ABITs forums to help with an issue, then said issue is rare, or hard to trace.

    I'm finding that more, and more, that motherboards dont really go bad (short term), but often 'broken' motherboards are configured improperly by the user, that has limited experience with that brand, or a user that really hasnt a clue how to properly setup a motherboard. This doesnt include the rare chance of a dead out of the box motherboard, or the random hard to troubleshoot other than motherboard issues, and I've recently experience the latter here myself (an Asrock board that would lock up within three days, no BSoD, and nothing standard fixed the problem).

    The main reason why I like ABIT, is that usually ABIT boards have stability that is second to none, and they perform very well.
  • granulated - Friday, September 8, 2006 - link

    I know that the Scyhte Infinity is approx 12cm x 12cm but blimey !
    It's looks massive !
  • yyrkoon - Friday, September 8, 2006 - link

    Gary, was wondering if yo ucould confirm if ABIT boards with eSATA, and a SIL 3132 controller will in fact work with a SATA port multiplier. From all the researching Ive done for the last year or so would indicate so, but I would like ot make sure before investing loads of cash in an external RAID 5 array, only to have it not work. Reply

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