Abit AW9D Max Motherboard Review

ccokeman - 2007-03-05 23:54:29 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: March 12, 2007
Abit
Abit
Price: $219.99

Introduction:

The last time I switched camps from AMD to Intel, Abit had the best Socket 478 Motherboard out in the IC7-MAX3. Now that I have decided to once again make the switch back to Intel, I am hoping to repeat the same successes that I had with my last Abit product. Today I will be looking at the Abit AW9D-Max

The Abit computer corporation was started back in 1989. Since then, they have had many success stories including being the fastest growing motherboard company in 1989 with sales in excess of $10,000,000 US. Following up that feat in 2003 they saw sales increases of over 100 percent. Looking forward,  Abit is designing its products with “Bulletproof Technology” to ensure a long term positive experience for the end user.

Closer Look:

The packaging comes with some pretty elaborate artwork. The back side of the packaging describes in detail the features of this motherboard.

 


Included in the accessories was an SLI bridge to connect two Nvidia graphics cards. It seems that even though SLI is not supported by the 975x chipset it can be made to work. After some research I found that there are a set of hacked Nvidia drivers to allow SLI to be setup and run flawlessly. Here we have just one more option for those of you who will be using multiple gpu’s.

 


I was looking forward to using the AW9D-MAX with my BBATI Crossfire 1900xt’s. They work great as planned , unfortunately with the large heatsinks on them there is no room to access the one pci slot if you wanted to run anything but onboard sound.


Speaking of sound, The onboard solution comes in the form of an AudioMax riser card that does fit even with multiple gpu’s.

 


Abit seems to be thinking a bit outside the box here. They have included additional cooling strips on the back side of the motherboard to help improve cooling in the areas of the Cpu socket and pwm circuits.


Some other nice features include an onboard debug led and onboard power/reset buttons for those who run without a case.


One of the things for those of you running dual gpu’s that presents a problem is the location of the CMOS jumper. In this case it is right under the power circuit heatsink on the second graphics card.


Here is a quick look at the bios options that are most important to those individuals looking for an enthusiast type product. From the factory Abit gives you a 6 mhz overclock. They know their market it seems. Each of the voltages that are available to adjust have a marked impact on increasing performance, particularly the MCH and PCIe voltage.


On this board and many of the other 975x varieties, the chipset timings are pretty tight. This makes it tough to get into the 400+fsb range stable. On the 13 BIOS there is an additional timing value in the advanced chipset features for TRFC. Loosening this value has helped in reaching higher fsb speeds.


In the Abit Eq section of uGuru utility there are options to monitor voltages , fan temperatures, and a new one for this reviewer. An onboard light show. Great if you have a window on your case!


Let's get this thing installed.

 

Installation:

Installation of the motherboard into the case of your choice is a pretty straight forward process. The first thing I do when installing a new motherboard is to check to make sure that the standoffs are located in the correct positions. Once that is done, install of the I/O shield. Now we get to the point where everything starts to fall into place. Install the motherboard onto the standoffs and secure it with screws.

Next we have the brain of the operation. Install your choice of socket 775 processors, in this case an E6700. Mount your cooling solution to the board making sure you apply your choice of thermal paste. Finish up by installing the system memory, graphics card(s), sound device, peripherals and you are ready to play.

Specifications:

Model  
Brand Abit
Model AW9D-MAX
   
Supported CPU  
Socket Type LGA 775
CPU Type Core 2 Extreme /Core 2 Duo / Pentium EE / Pentium
FSB 1066/ 800 Mhz
Supported CPU Technologies Intel Hyper-Threading / XD-bit/ EM64T/ EISTTechnology /Virtualization Technology
Chipsets  
North Bridge Intel 975X
South Bridge Intel ICH7R
Memory  
Number of Memory Slots 4 x 240 pin
Memory Standard DDR2 800
Maximum Memory Supported 8GB
Dual Channel Supported Yes
   
Expansion Slots  
   
PCI Express x16 2
PCI Express x1 2
PCI Slots 1
Other Slots 1 x AudioMAX
   
Storage Devices  
PATA 1 x ATA100 up to 2 Devices
SATA 3Gb/s 7 x SATA 3Gb/s ports 1 x eSATA port
SATA RAID 0/1/0+1/5 Matrix RAID
Additional RAID Controller Sil 3132
   
Onboard Audio  
Audio Chipset ABIT AudioMAX HD 7.1 CH / Dolby Master Studio Certificated
Audio Channels 8 Channels
Onboard LAN  
Max Lan Speed Dual 10/100/1000
Rear Panel Ports  
PS/2 2
USB 4 x USB 2.0
S/PDIF Out 1 xOptical
Audio Ports 6 Ports
Onboard USB  
Onboard USB 2 x USB 2.0 connectors support 4 ports
Onboard 1394  
Onboard 1394 2 x 1394a connectors support 2 ports
Physical Spec  
Form Factor ATX
Dimensions 12.0" x 9.6"
Features  
Power Pin 24 Pin
Features RoHS Compliancy
   

Testing:

                

 

Testing Setup


In testing this motherboard, we will be running through a series of benchmarks showing performance at stock settings vs. overclocked settings on the cpu and memory to get an idea of what I was able to accomplish with this board. All graphics tests are run using stock clock speeds on the graphics cards to eliminate any fluctuation in the results.

The system benchmarks we will be using are,

 

Here are the results of these tests.


Apophysis 2.2 is a program for rendering fractual flames


Lower is Better

PcMark05 is a system benchmark by Futuremark. It is designed to test your complete system.


Higher is better

SiSandra   is an “information and diagnostic utility” that helps you see the information about your hardware and software at a higher level. Included are systems benchmarking tools. With this benchmark we will be looking at the results for Processor Arithmetic,Processor Multimedia, Memory Bandwidth and Memory Latency. Here is a look at how the processor and memory scored.


 




Higher is Better
 

 

Higher is Better
 
 



Higher Is Better
 

Lower Is Better
Sciencemark tests real world performance instead of using a synthetic benchmarks.

  Higher is Better

Cinebench is useful for testing your systems CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D.



 Higher is Better

HdTach measures disc performance to compare results between drives and or disc controllers.




Higher is Better

Specviewperf9 is a benchmark designed to test OpenGL performance
 


Higher is Better

Now that we have run through the system benchmarks we go straight to the video. Benchmarks, that is.  Here is the list of benchmarks we will be running. Again, all gpu clock speeds are left at stock values to make sure that only changes to the Cpu and memory speeds can affect results.

 

 
 

Far Cry is a little dated but still serves as a valid test for many systems.




Higher Is Better

Quake 4 





Higher is Better


Call of Duty 2 is another older release. It is however very popular and still relevant as a graphics benchmark.




Higher Is Better
FEAR sports an all new A.I. model allowing it to emulate real squad behavior.



Higher Is Better

Microsoft Flight Simulator X is a new release from Microsoft.  Testing on this game was started at the resolution of 1024x768 because 800x600 was not an available option in this game.





 

Higher is Better

Need for Speed (Most Wanted)




Higher is Better

Conclusion:

Abit has put together another great product. With the use of the Intel 975x chipset, this board definitely out shines some of the other hardware on the market today. It is not a high fsb clocker unless you resort to volt mods. That being said, you can do very well with a CPU that has a higher clock multiplier to reach high processor speeds.  I was able to get an overclock of almost 1Ghz over stock speeds, stable enough for day to day operation.  Not stellar, but nice enough for everyday use. Once you find out the quirks of this board you will be rewarded with great performance.  I would buy it again!  While testing this motherboard I did not have another motherboard to compare results with. In the near future we will have several socket 775 motherboards and will feature a comparison including this motherboard. Stay Tuned!

 

Pros


Cons