Abit IX38 Quad GT Reviewccokeman -
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The Abit IX38 Quad GT "Speedster" is designed around the Intel X38 and ICH9R chipsets. It features a silent cooling system to cool the chipsets and power regulation circuits. Unlike many of Abit's recent high end offerings, this board does not have the cooling strips built into the PCB to help generate some additional cooling capacity where it really needs it.
The I/O panel features enough connectivity to keep most people happy. The "Speedster" has four USB 2.0 connections, PS/2 for both the mouse and keyboard, Optical S/PDIF in and out, 1 IEEE1394 Firewire connection, 7.1 Audio and just a single RJ-45 Gigabit LAN connection. Abit has included a feature on this board that has been on the last few of its high-end offerings, the external CMOS clear button. This is easily one of the coolest features that Abit has used recently. Just power down, push the button, power up and change your settings and you are ready to go for the maximum clockspeed again. I feel this shows Abit's commitment to the enthusiast side of its business.
The expansion slots available on the Quad GT include three 16x PCI-E 2.0 slots. Two run at 16x (blue) while the third (black) runs at 4x. This should make the folks who run Crossfire (myself included) have the ability to find out the true capabilities of their graphics solution. Additionally, there are two standard PCI slots and one 1x PCI-E slot. Most of the peripheral connectivity is along the bottom and right hand side of the board. The exception would be the onboard 1394 connection.
Left to right along the bottom of the IX38 the connections are the front panel sound header; above it is the optical SPDIF header. Continuing on to the right are the four onboard USB 2.0 headers. Unfortunately, there is not a supplied USB expansion slot bracket included in the bundle to take advantage of this additional capability.
Further to the right are the front panel LED and switch header and floppy drive connection. Floppy drives are old technology at this point but still needed to some extent. Above the floppy drive connection is the uGuru header in red. This allows the end user to connect to the uGuru front panel (sold seperately). Like most of Abit's high-end offerings, the Quad GT "Speedster" has an onboard diagnostic LED to help troubleshoot no boot conditions, as well as showing a successful post sequence. Onboard reset and power buttons are great for the enthusiast that runs on a tech bench. No more small screw drivers to jump the front panel power connection. These switches add a little flash to the case when the IX38 is powered up. Each has a bright LED under or built into the switch. One green and one red. If you feel that you have to use a jumper to clear the CMOS, it is at least in a convenient spot next to the power and reset buttons.
Moving up the right hand side are the six SATA 3GB/s ports controlled by the Intel ICH9R southbridge. The lone Ultra ATA 133 IDE port resides next to the SATA ports. The IX38 uses only two power connections to send power to the board, a 24-pin ATX and an 8-pin auxiliary 12v connection. This is an improvement over the last few offerings that used three power connections. The third was a 4-pin molex placed along the bottom of the board in a difficult to connect to position if multiple GPUs with two slot cooling solutions were used.