Abit AA8: Features and Layout

 Abit AA8 Motherboard Specifications
CPU Interface Socket 775 Pentium 4 (Prescott)
Chipset Intel 925X/ICH6R
Bus Speeds 200MHz to 336MHz (in 1MHz increments)
DDR2 Speeds Auto, 400, 533
PCI Speeds 33.33, 36.36, 40.00
Core Voltage 1.4375V to 1.7875V in 0.0125V increments
DRAM Voltage 1.80V to 2.25V in 0.05V increments
NB (Northbridge) Voltage 1.50V-2.05V in 0.05V increments
Memory Slots Four 240-pin DDR2 533 Slots
Dual-Channel Unbuffered Memory to 4GB
Expansion Slots 1 PCIe x16 Slot
3 PCIe x1 slot
2 PCI Slots
Onboard SATA/IDE RAID 4 SATA 150 drives by ICH6R
Can be combined in RAID 0, 1, Intel Matrix
Onboard IDE One Standard ATA100/66
(2 drives)
Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394 8 USB 2.0 ports
3 IEEE 1394 FireWire Ports by TI 4200R7T
Onboard LAN Gigabit Ethernet by Realtek 8110S-32
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC880 (HD Audio)
8-Channel with SPDIF in/out
Tested BIOS 1.3

The AA8 DuraMAX is Abit's flagship board for the Pentium 4 LGA 775. This is reflected in the feature set, but the AA8 was also designed to sell at a rational price point compared to other 925X boards. Abit does include 3 Firewire ports for those who need firewire connections, but the feature set is otherwise straight Intel 925X. There is nothing wrong with this approach as the 925X/ICH6R includes 8 USB 2.0 ports, PCI Express, 4-port SATA RAID with Intel Matrix options, and support for Intel High Definition (Azalia) audio.

Abit has included their typical wide selection of voltages and frequencies to get the most from the AA8 and the Pentium 4 Prescott. Abit was also one of the first motherboard makers to significantly break through the overclocking limitations of the 925X chipset. So, there are some additional automatic manipulations being made by µGuru at boot, where the PCIe frequency is adjusted dynamically in relation to the CPU frequency prior to boot. The overclocking controls are typically Abit, but perhaps the range is a little more limited than we see on other Abit boards. Abit decided not to include PCI Express speed adjustments in the BIOS - they are being manipulated in µGuru instead.

The voltage adjustments that are included in the BIOS have a wider range than you will see on most 925X boards, which will please overclockers who intend to use water or phase-change cooling on the AA8. The important Northbridge adjustments extend from the default 1.5V all the way to 2.05V, which is a wider range than you find on any other board. Abit has added a pretty hefty heatsink with a side-blowing fan to the northbridge to handle the voltage range that they have built into the AA8.

Abit uses a flat edge connector for the single IDE connection provided by the 925X chipset. In most mid-tower cases, we suggest that you connect the IDE cable before you mount the board, since the connector falls under the hard drives in many case designs and is difficult to reach after the board is screwed down. We like the idea of edge connectors, but some case designs make it very difficult to connect the edge-connectors. The floppy connector will not matter to some, but if you use a floppy, you will find the location a real problem, at the very bottom center of the motherboard. When you try to route the floppy cable to clear the 4 SATA connectors, it tends to hide the diagnostic LEDs and interfere with the front-panel connectors. The bulky 24-pin power connector is on the right board edge and 4-pin 12V connector are on the top board edge. Both these locations are excellent in that they will not force you to fish cables over or around the CPU. The Abit trademark 2-digit diagnostic LEDs are also found on the AA8, and we have found that they can be very useful for troubleshooting.

Abit uses the Realtek ALC880 codec with the Intel HD audio on the AA8. This is the same High-Definition audio codec that we see used in most motherboards in the roundup. Realtek says that their 7.1 Channel High Definition Audio features four 24-bit two-channel DACs and three stereo 20-bit ADCs. "The ALC880(D) also achieves 100dB sound quality; easily meeting PC2001 requirements and also bringing PC sound quality closer to consumer electronic devices." You can find more information on the features and specifications of the Realtek 880 at the Realtek website.

Index Abit AA8: Overclocking and Stress Testing
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  • jdoor0 - Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - link

    This review has been reviewed:
  • Nige - Tuesday, October 12, 2004 - link

    Does the ASUS P5AD2 Deluxe motherboard have the same overclocking capability as the P5AD2 Premium?
  • skiboysteve - Friday, August 13, 2004 - link

    Wow nice catch. i guess my "(I know... toms sucks)" disclaimer came true.

    yaeh i understand.
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, August 12, 2004 - link

    #26 -
    There is now an apology to Asus up at THG. They measured the voltage wrong. We had also measured the voltage and found 1.5 to 1.55 which is well within spec, not 2.1 as they reported. They now acknowledge the correct voltage measurement for the P5AD2 is 1.53V.

    High Northbridge voltage is not the reason the Asus, or any other 925X/915 board, overclocks well. There are far too many simple and wrong explanations for the complex overclocking issues of the 925X/915 chipsets.
  • skiboysteve - Thursday, August 12, 2004 - link

    Page 10
    "...Broadcom attached to the faster PCI Express bus..."

    there is no PCI Express bus, its a point to point protocal.

    Just nitpicking.

    Great review.

    Also, over at Toms (I know... toms sucks) they looked at 9x5 Boards over there and showed that the Asus P5AD2 was running at an astounding 2.1v on the northbridge (1.5v is the stock)

    Something might have to be mentioned about reliability of such out of spec behavior, and cooling concerns. You might want to conduct your own quick test on the voltage with a multimeter.
  • broberts - Thursday, August 12, 2004 - link

    One of the problems with these arguments is that the FX-53 is almost 20% more expensive.

    I've been thinking for a while now that benchmarks should show some form of pricing index so that one can better judge the advantage/disadvantage of the various choices. Just quoting prices isn't ideal, for a host of reasons. I'd suggest, instead, a relative measure. And not just the cost of the particular component being benchmarked. Calculate the cost of the each system used in the benchmarks. Pick one, perhaps the lowest or highest cost one and calculate the relative difference in price. I suggest using the entire system because quite often the choice of one component dictates the available choices for other components. Ideally a relative measure for both the components and entire system would be calculated and published.
  • manno - Thursday, August 12, 2004 - link

    Moo Moo MOO.
  • manno - Thursday, August 12, 2004 - link

    why no Doom3?
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, August 12, 2004 - link

    #21 -
    We will definitely be including Doom 3 benches in future reviews. The only reason they are not included in this 925X roundup is because most of the testing was completed before we had a working copy of Doom 3. You can get a clear idea of how the 925X/Intel 560 performs in Doom 3 in Anand's Doom 3: CPU Battlegrounds review published August 4th at http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...
  • kherman - Thursday, August 12, 2004 - link

    Umm, Doom 3 benches?

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