Basic Features

Abit AW9D-MAX Specifications
Market Segment: Performance Enthusiast
CPU Interface: Socket T (Socket 775)
CPU Support: LGA775-based Pentium 4, Celeron D, Pentium D, Pentium EE, Core 2 Duo
Chipset: Intel 975X + ICH7R
Bus Speeds: 133 to 600 in 1MHz Increments
Memory Speeds: SPD, 533, 667, 800
NorthBridge Strap: CPU, 1066, 800, 533
PCIe Speeds: Auto, 100MHz~200MHz
PCI: Fixed at 33.33
Core Voltage: Base CPU V to 1.7250V in 0.0250V increments
CPU Clock Multiplier: Auto, 6x-11x in 1X increments if CPU is unlocked
DRAM Voltage: 1.75V ~ 2.65V in .05V or .10V increments, above 2.35V all increments are .10V.
DRAM Timing Control: SPD, 4 Options
NB Voltage: 1.50V ~ 2.00V in .01V increments
Memory Slots: Four 240-pin DDR2 DIMM Slots
Dual-Channel Configuration
Regular Unbuffered Memory to 8GB Total
Expansion Slots: 2 - PCIe X16 (x8 operation in multi-GPU setup)
2 - PCIe X1
1 - PCI Slot 2.3
1 - Audio Max Slot
Onboard SATA/RAID: 4 SATA 3Gbps Ports - Intel ICH7R
(RAID 0,1,1+0,JBOD)
3 SATA 3Gbps Ports - Silicon Image 3132
1 e-SATA 3Gbps Port - Silicon Image 3132
Onboard IDE: 1 ATA100/66/33 Port (2 drives) - Intel ICH7R
Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394: 8 USB 2.0 Ports - 4 I/O Panel - 4 via Headers
2 Firewire 400 Ports by TI TSB43AB22A - via Headers
Onboard LAN: Gigabit Ethernet Controller - PCI-E Interface
Realtek RTL 8111B
Onboard Audio: Realtek ALC882M HD-Audio 8-channel CODEC - Dolby Master Studio
Power Connectors: ATX 24-pin, 8-pin EATX 12V, 4-pin 12V Molex
I/O Panel: 1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x PS/2 Mouse
2 x RJ45
1 x eSATA
4 x USB 2.0/1.1
BIOS Revision: AWARD W628 - Beta

Abit has delivered a well optioned but very performance oriented 975X board that should sell for around US $229 or under. While our BIOS is still beta we were surprised at the stability of the motherboard during our benchmarking. We will provide screenshots and a more in-depth look at the BIOS once we receive a shipping version. At this time the one glaring omission is the lack of advanced DRAM timing control settings and a 1333 memory strap that would certainly let this board overclock further. Abit only allows the basic four timings to be changed (tCAS, tRCD, tRP, tRAS) and for a board of this caliber we believe this is a mistake. The ability to increase the MCH voltage to 2.00V and memory to 2.65V is impressive considering the limits on the other 975X based boards. However, we wish the memory settings above 2.35V were available in .05V increments instead of .10V increments.

One of the main BIOS issues consisted of the inability of the board to lower the CPU multiplier on standard Core 2 Duo processors (and raise it on the Core 2 Extreme), a feature available in current Gigabyte and ASUS boards. The weirdest issue was that setting the PCI Express speed above 100Mhz would render our SATA drives inoperable in most instances. We had to hunt and peck for an acceptable increase in the PCI Express speed before our drives would be recognized. Our Seagate drives would work at 102 and 108 at certain times while our WD SE16 drives would only work at 105 with the Raptors not working at anything above 100MHz. In the end, none of the SATA drives would work above 100MHz consistently so we left this setting at the default.

We also had trouble overclocking the board at first unless we disabled the Abit EQ thermal controls. This held true when trying to increase our CPU or memory voltages at various times. If the system defaulted to standard EQ limit settings (memory voltage at 2.1V maximum) then we would have to disable the Abit EQ controls, set our increased voltages, and then enable EQ before we could overclock the system. Although this typically worked, the bios would sometimes lose its way and no longer accept the extended voltage settings we specified in the EQ utility. We ended up disabling EQ voltage monitoring altogether during overclocking. Our remaining issue was the bios was unforgiving with specific DDR2 modules at certain settings. We generally found that the 4:5 ratio would work at times with our other DDR2-800 test modules when a 1:1 ratio would not and vice versa. We certainly believe from our discussions with Abit that these BIOS issues will be fixed before retail release but the board basically works fine at this time.

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  • yyrkoon - Thursday, September 21, 2006 - link

    Heya Gary, seems this motherboard is availible from newegg in the U.S. currently (which also seems to have the lowest price, even lower than ZZF, and mwave currently), are they still using the beta BIOS marked as a production BIOS or what ?

    Also, I noticed my question concerning the SATA port multiplier compatability never realy got answered fully ;) However, I DO realize that you guys are probably very busy :)
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, September 27, 2006 - link

    The 1.2 beta we used is now official. Should have another beta bios update late next week. I will get to the eSATA question this weekend. Have a new external SATA setup that will make for the perfect test. Reply
  • biggersteve - Monday, September 18, 2006 - link

    Gary, can you comment on when you hope to publish the upcoming P965 shootout? Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, September 19, 2006 - link

    I hate to give a date as I have already moved the article out twice. It should be within a week, just received two boards that are both exclusives along with one more coming tomorrow that I will need to get into the article. Expect 12, maybe 13 boards and a novel size review. Reply
  • BadThad - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    I'd like to see information on the board components used like capacitors. Any board is only as good as it's weakest component. Also, how many phases is the power control? Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, September 13, 2006 - link">Abit AW9D Features Page

    I know it is a boring page but most of your questions are answered in the second paragraph. :) The board features a four phase power regulation setup and solid aluminium electrolytic polymer capacitors. The manufacturer of the capacitors will vary at times so until we have a definite word from Abit on the subject we hazard to guess which ones they will use. However, the difference in the quality of solid aluminium electrolytic polymer capacitors between suppliers is minor at this time when comparing the quality of traditional aluminium electrolytic wet capacitors.
  • BadThad - Thursday, September 14, 2006 - link

    DOH! OK, yea, I do a lot of skimming because I don't have much time....good article BTW! :)

    Why don't reviewers start pressuring the mfg's to make a REAL enthusiast MB? I want a board with no intregated sound, video nor integrated ANYTHING dasmit!
  • yyrkoon - Friday, September 8, 2006 - link

    I see ABIT is still using *some* non grounded motherboard retaining holes on thier boards, I cant help but wonder WHY they are doing this. I'm fairly sure my Asrock AM2NF4G-SATA2 board has all motherboard screw holes 'tinned' (and grounded?), but even looking at my old ABIT NF7-S2G board, there are atleast two screw holes that have no 'tinning'.

    Is this to help with noise, or is there something else I'm missing ?
  • SocrPlyr - Saturday, September 9, 2006 - link

    That isn't for grounding. It is actually not connected to anything. the point of the metal around the screw holes is to prevent the PCB from cracking when the screws are tightened Reply
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, September 9, 2006 - link

    Thats funny, because its been known for a long time, that when using a ABIT motherboard, you DO NOT put metal screws in those holes . . . Reply

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