AMD has recently dominated the gaming segment, thanks to NVIDIA, their nForce4 SLI chipset, and the power of the A64 FX processor. During that time, the Intel camp has had little to cheer about, with Intel gamers forced to rely solely on single graphics card solutions. They could only watch as AMD users walked on by in fps performance. NVIDIA recently shook up that status quo by introducing NVIDIA SLI to the Intel market.

Abit recently introduced the NI8 SLI based on NVIDIA's C19 + MCP-04 nForce4 chipset, and with it, the innovations that come with the Abit Fatality label. The C19 based boards now being introduced to market are feature-packed, making the "everything a gamer could want" Fatality a natural for this market. Intel's dual core processors generated some excitement about Intel for gaming again, and the NVIDIA's C19 stepped up with x2 support. As we have since learned, there are some limitations in regards to dual core support inherent in the Intel nForce4 chipset at this time. At stock settings utilizing an Intel D840EE, the 2 cores and all 4 logical processors were recognized as per specification, but when dropping the multiplier to 14, the chipset only recognizes one CPU core. This issue has been reportedly corrected in the most recent top-line Dual x16 NVIDIA Intel boards. But gamers are not necessarily overclockers, and if the Abit NI8 SLI is fast at stock speeds, it will satisfy many gamers.

Abit fans expect that if anyone can make a worthy Intel gaming board, it will be Abit. Their BIOS' have been tuned, in particular, towards gaming performance. Their current Fatality line of boards is a testament towards that gaming market, which has always held high regard for the Abit brand.

In the last year, much has been written of Abit's financial woes and re-organization, but despite the new challenges, they continue to engineer and introduce new products as the technology evolves. Let's see if the NI8 can help Abit to recapture some of their past glory.

ABIT NI8 SLI: Feature set
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  • jojo4u - Friday, October 7, 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[1] and 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.

    This article is about the unfixed quality. But to judge the G70 today, have a look at the 6800U videos.">
    This article shows the performance hit of enabling "high quality"
  • jojo4u - Friday, October 7, 2005 - link

    oops wrong forum
  • Avalon - Friday, October 7, 2005 - link

    Thanks for the clarification Wesley, and welcome aboard Randi!
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, October 7, 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.
  • yacoub - Friday, October 7, 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. :(
  • DigitalFreak - Friday, October 7, 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.
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, October 7, 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.
  • Live - Friday, October 7, 2005 - link

    Enough said...
  • Avalon - Friday, October 7, 2005 - link


    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.
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, October 7, 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.

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