Abit AN78GS Review

The Smith - 2008-07-08 17:59:01 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: The Smith   
Reviewed on: November 10, 2008
Price: $115


Do you know what GeForce Boost and Hybrid Power Technology are? Well, I just gave you a hint: they refer to GeForce graphics cards. This technology allows for the use of SLI with the onboard graphics engine and a dedicated video card, from the GeForce series obviously. It allows power savings by disabling the dedicated graphics card when it's not needed. When graphics intensive applications are used, then both graphics engines work together in SLI, as I just said. Well, this technology gives a great advantage to having onboard graphics.

Abit, motherboard manufacturer for now nearly 15 years, just released a motherboard making use of this technology, the AN78GS. The board uses the GeForce 8200 integrated chipset and features an AM2+ socket for housing processors up to the AMD Phenoms. Also, to make use of the previously mentioned NVidia technology, it has a PCI-Express 2.0 slot. So let's see what this board looks like.


Closer look:

The Abit AN78GS comes packaged in a black cardboard box. On the front, there is a picture of a bullet stuck in a kind of metal or concrete surface. It probably refers to the Abit BulletProof technology. This focuses on superior products by ensuring "Quality, Stability, Reliability, and Engineering." For example, 100% Japanese capacitors are used on Abit motherboards. We can also read on Universal Abit's website that all products must pass the torture test before ending up on store shelves. However, there is no mention of the BulletProof technology on the box. On the sides of it, there is a quick summary of the AN78GS features, which mostly focus on the GeForce integrated 8200 chipset, the NVidia technologies coming with it, and the AM2+/DDR2-1066 support.



On the back of the box is where all of the technical information is found. The big title at the top emphasizes the Hybrid SLI technology. A bit more at the left, under the "NVidia GeForce 8200 chipset" subtitle, this technology is explained more in detail. Then, completely at the right, are the specifications table. The "4 phase OC PWM for CPU" subtitle also got my attention. We'll see later if this helps with stability when overclocking.


Inside the box, everything is well protected. Accessories are packed in a deeper area and are protected from smashing against the box with a black foam. These include, as usual, the driver CD, the user's manual, the motherboard back I/O panel, two SATA cables, and an IDE cable. Even a Molex to SATA power adapter is included in case the power supply does not have this type of connector. Also, there is a sticker indicating the motherboard jumper settings, for a quick reference. No need to search through the whole manual to find them. It says to stick it on the case, but I'm sure most people wouldn't want that. However, why not stick it inside of the case? That way it would not mess up the aesthetics.



Finally, under the cardboard panel lies the motherboard in a plastic bag. It is tightly packed there and won't move by accident.


So now, let's take it out, remove that plastic bag, and see what it looks like.

Closer Look:

The first thing that caught my attention was the Abit Silent Otes heatsink. The biggest part covers the voltage regulators and the smallest part allows the cooling of the GeForce 8200 integrated graphics processor. The heatpipe helps by transferring heat from the coolest to the hottest part. However, I'm a bit disappointed by its quality. It's not even made of copper, like most of the heatpipes. At the back, there is the usual AM2+ heatsink retention system backplate.



















Here are the back I/O panel connectors. The three different graphics connectors are great, which are the analog VGA, the digital DVI, and finally an HDMI connector! It makes the AN78GS a great board for HTPCs, since you can easily plug in your HDTV. However, the downside is the fact that there are only four rear USB ports. This is partially countered by the four front panel USB connectors, as we will see later, but you need a case suitable to use them. So if you're like me, using a USB mouse, USB keyboard, an XBox wired controller, and another XBox Guitar Hero controller, all these ports are filled very quickly. And what about the printer and the memory card reader? Well, there is no more room. Furthermore, Abit has removed one of the PS/2 ports, a decision which I am not particularly against, but either a USB keyboard or mouse is a must. Finally, there are six audio plugs for up to a 7.1 surround sound system, and the Ethernet connector.


Here are the AM2+ socket and the DDR2 memory slots. The ones in dual-channel are the ones beside each other. This could be seen as an advantage and as a disadvantage at the same time. First, if only two sticks are used, they will likely be hotter because air can't circulate between them. However, it allows the sticks to be farther from the socket, which helps if a large heatsink is used. I cannot mount my Xigmatek HDT-S1283 with the RAM sticks in the blue slots, so it would be even worse with a Thermalright Ultra-120. I measured that the first two blue slots would be completely obstructed, compared to my Xigmatek which only prevents the first one to be used.



Here are all the different headers on the motherboard. The motherboard has a 24-pin ATX power connector. On the left is the IDE connector for people still working with older technology. A bit higher are the six SATA connectors, and in between, the 3-pin system fan header. The next picture shows the Floppy disk drive connector, as well as the front panel connectors. These are the usual power switch, reset switch, speaker, power LED, hard drive LED, and sleep LED. Higher up are the four front USB connectors and the battery. Also, at the right of the floppy disk drive connector is the CMOS jumper. It's long enough for it to be pulled off and inserted by hand, so it becomes very easy to reset the CMOS after a failed overclock. The third picture shows the second 3-pin auxiliary fan connector, the front panel audio and the internal audio connector, which should be connected to the audio output of the CD-ROM drive. Then, there is the 4-pin CPU fan connector, the 3-pin first auxiliary fan, and the 2x4 processor power connector, all shown in the last picture.




Finally, here are the expansion slots. The Abit AN78GS features three legacy PCI slots, as well as two PCI-E x1 and one PCI-E x16 2.0 slot.

Closer Look:

I will now show a peek into the BIOS, where all of the motherboard controls and settings are. The Abit AN78GS uses the Phoenix - Award BIOS. It can be accessed by pressing "Delete" when you see the Abit logo. In this BIOS, the overclocking sections are scattered everywhere. So I put back some order and regrouped all of them on the next page of this review, which is the Closer Look (The BIOS continued).









Standard CMOS:

In this section, date and time settings as well as system and drives information are found.



Advanced BIOS Features:

Here you can find the settings for boot priority. The security option is also present there, to determine if the password is required only to enter into the BIOS, or at each boot up. The sub-menu "CPU feature" is about overclocking.


Advanced Chipset Features:

The onboard graphics settings are there. If an NVidia discrete graphics card is installed, the first two lines in this menu become available to the user. Then, Hybrid SLI can be enabled, as well as display detection in order to detect to which device the monitor is hooked up. By enabling the "iGPU Frame Buffer Control," the "VGA Share Memory" can be manually set, from 64MB up to 512MB. On the next line, the "Onboard GPU" can be set to "Always Enable," or enable only if there is no discrete graphics card. I'll talk about the "K8<->NB HT Speed" and the "DRAM Configuration" sub-menu later, as it concerns overclocking. Then, the PCI Spread spectrum can be enabled by choosing "Down Spread." Now I hear some readers asking what is this function. When enabled, the chipset will slightly, I mean slightly, reduce the PCI clock to avoid spikes. This function should be left disabled unless there is electromagnetic interference, which causes these spikes in frequency, because in theory, it will also reduce performance. Finally, on the last line, the PCI-E can be limited to generation one.




Integrated Peripherals:

This section has two sub-menus. The first one brings you to where the drives can be set to work in RAID, IDE or AHCI (hot-swappable) mode. Next is the "USB Device Setting" sub-menu. This one allows the user to enable the USB controllers. Then, back to the integrated peripherals menu, the first initiated display can be selected. Right under are the audio settings. The onboard audio controller can be enabled. If it is, the front panel audio can be set to HD or AC'97, and the audio out via HDMI can be enabled. Finally, the onboard LAN controller and floppy disk controller can be enabled.





Power Management Setup:

The Power Management section is all about sleep. In the "ACPI Suspend type," the type of sleep can be set. Then, the ways to wake up the computer follow. On the last two lines, the action taken on an AC power loss can be set, as well as the High Precision Event Timer (HPET).


PnP/PCI Configurations:

In this menu, the Interruption requests (IRQ) can be set to Reserved, by first selecting "Manual" in the "Resources Controlled By." In other words, this means the processor won't allow some of its time for PCI devices. Then, the "PCI/VGA Palette Snoop" allows a PCI card that does not contain its own color palette to borrow the one of a VGA card. This setting must be left on "Disabled" unless a TV card or MPEG decoder card needs it. Finally, the maximum payload size refers to the TLP (Transaction Layer Packet). It must not be higher than what the PCI-E card can handle.


Closer Look:

On this page, I will show everything about the Abit AN78GS overclocking. In the "Softmenu Setup," accessed in the main menu, the processor frequency can be adjusted as well as all voltages. But first, "User Define" must be chosen. However, one thing is missing here: the CPU multiplier, which is elsewhere.











The CPU multiplier is found in the "CPU feature sub-menu," which can be accessed via the "Advanced BIOS features." In order to change it, AMD "Cool'n'Quiet Technology" must first be disabled.



The "DRAM Configuration" sub-menu is accessed through the "Advanced Chipset features" menu. Once again, before changing any value, the "DRAM Timing selectable" must be set on "Manual." Then, the clock and timings can be set.



One last setting is hidden elsewhere: the HyperTransport frequency. It can be found in the "Advanced Chipset features" menu. It can vary from 200MHz to 2600MHz.


Finally, every overclocker needs to check the "PC Health Status." This one is at the right in the main menu. In the first section, the CPU and system fans can be controlled. Automatic can also be used, by which different speeds are activated by temperature thresholds. In the second section, this is where all temperature and voltage measurements are.


Closer Look:

When the supplied CD in inserted into the drive, the autorun will start. Then the user is brought to a menu as in the picture below. In the Drivers tab, you can either choose to install them all at once or separately. These include the nVidia nForce chipset driver, the Realtek HD Audio driver, the nVidia HDMI Audio driver, and the Hybrid SLI driver. In the Manual tab, the AN78 series manual, the RAID manual (for those wanting to install third-party drivers before Windows, they are located on the CD under CD-ROM drive:/Drivers/SATARAID/MCP78/Vista32(Or Vista64)) and the Realtek HD Audio manual can be accessed. Also provided on the same CD are Acrobat Reader 8.0 and Award Flash 8.80, a BIOS flash utility. Finally, from Abit, are the AbitEQ and the FlashMenu utility, a monitoring program and another flashing utility, respectively.












If you click on "Q-Install" in the Drivers Tab, a new window will appear, in which you can ditch one or two of the drivers. After clicking the start button, the selected drivers will install. No extra step is needed. The user is then prompted to reboot the computer.


When it comes the time to install the utilities, the standard Installshield wizard will guide the user right from the beginning. The directory needs to be chosen before they are installed. At the end, much like the drivers, the wizard will ask for a reboot.



Here is the AbitEQ monitoring utility. From the menu at the right, the system temperatures, voltages and fan speeds can be accessed.



The last icon at the bottom right gives access to the settings. Limits to voltage, temperature and fan speeds can be set. If they are not respected, an alarm will trigger. The "Fan EQ" tab allows the user to set fan speeds and settings, much like in the BIOS. Finally, in the "General" tab, this is where you can tell this utility to start at each system power on, and to minimize. Then, the update interval can be increased for more accuracy. This is also where the user can switch between Fahrenheit and Celcius degrees.




The last utility provided by Abit is FlashMenu. Each time the utility is opened, a warning goes off and tells the user not to mess with the BIOS if everything is fine, because there are some dangers. If flashing is not done properly, it could result in a corrupted BIOS and prevent the motherboard from funtioning. Then, past this warning, is the application itself. It allows the user to save the BIOS and update it from one of these saved files. Also, BIOS update can be done in one click by clicking on the "One Click LiveUpdate." In this case, everything is handled automatically. First, it checks your BIOS version, so if the latest one is detected, the application aborts the procedure. This same procedure can also be done step by step, if the user wants to.



Everything is well explained in the user manual, including what I've just said, so there is no need to worry.


*AMD AM2+/ AM2 Processor using Hyper Transport™ Technology for up to 5200MT/s
   -AM2+ running HT3.0 5200MT/s
   -AM2 running HT1.0 2000MT/s
*AMD Cool 'n' Quiet Technology
NVIDIA GeForce 8200 chipset
*4 x 240-pin DIMM sockets support max. memory capacity 8GB
*Supports Dual channel DDR2 1066/ 800/ 667 Un-buffered ECC/ Non-ECC memory
   -DDR2 1066 is supported by CPU AM2+ only
*Integrated GeForce 8 series graphics DirectX 10 with Shader Model 4.0 support
*NVIDIA® Hybrid SLI technology
*NVIDIA® PureVideo HD with hardware H.264, VC1, and MPEG4 video decode
*NVIDIA® nView® multi-display technology capability, with two independent display controllers for the CRT, HDMI/DVI interfaces
On board 7.1 CH HD Audio CODEC
Expansion slots
1 x PCI-E X16 (PCI Express 2.0)
2 x PCI-E X1
3 x PCI
On board GbE LAN
Internal I/O
1 x Floppy Port supports up to 2.88MB
1 x Ultra DMA 133/ 100/ 66/ 33 IDE Connector
4 x USB2.0 header (support 8 ports)
6 x SATA 3Gb/s connector
Back Panel
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x HDMI, 1 x VGA, 1 x DVI
1 x RCA out
4 x USB2.0, 1 x RJ-45 LAN Connector
7.1 CH HD Audio connector (Front, Line-in, MIC-in, Center/Subwoofer, Surround, Read Surround)
Serial ATA
6 x SATA 3Gb/s
Supports SATA RAID 0/ 1/ 0+1/5 and JBOD
Form Factor
ATX form factor 305x220 mm
100% lead-free process and RoHS compliant


























All information on this page is courtesy of Abit @


To test the Abit AN78GS, I will be running a series of CPU-oriented and video-oriented benchmarks to find out what kind of performance this motherboard can deliver. Obviously, to get comparable results, each test, including the AN78GS and the comparison motherboards, will be run using the same hardware, with a fresh install of Windows Vista Ultimate. I will then look at what CPU and RAM overclock can be achieved using this Abit motherboard, and I will run once again the benchmarks at the overclocked settings.



Comparison Motherboard:



Overclocked settings:

The Abit AN78GS overclocking was not that easy. The overclocking itself was, but the board gave me some troubles. Often, when I changed settings in the BIOS and hit F10 to save and exit, the board simply wouldn't restart. The screen was left blank and my keyboard/mouse did not light. Then, I needed to do a hard restart, and it would POST fine with the overclocked settings I put. If I changed one or two settings at a time, I didn't get this problem. Furthermore, the clocks are not that accurate. For example, if I set the external clock to 225MHz, I ended up getting 223.3MHz. This 1.7MHz is a huge difference on the processor's clock because of the multiplier.

So to achieve the settings on the picture below, I first began to raise the external clock, as the motherboard is really what we want to push to its limits. At 230MHz, I could boot into Windows, but I was getting errors when running OCCT. No blue screen of death, luckily. Finally, I was able to achieve a stable external clock of 223.3MHz (225 in BIOS). The key point was to overvolt the integrated memory controller by 50mV; however, I did not dare to go higher. I also needed to reduce the HyperTransport to 2010MHz instead of the 2233MHz generated by the external clock. I also raised the CPU voltage to 1.4V, but going higher did not seem to help at all. Once I got this, I tried to overclock the RAM, though it really didn't want to. When I set it to the 1066MHz multiplier I was able to bring it to 1190MHz, but I got the same problem, not being able to restart. But this time, a CMOS reset was a must to get it to POST. In fact, I never got this memory stable over 1140MHz, so I was not surprised at all. Finally, as a last step, I verified whether I couldn't raise the processor clock any further by setting a higher multiplier, but I couldn't. In conclusion, 223MHz of external clock is the best I was able to do on the Abit AN78GS.


But this is not the highest stable overclock I got on the processor and memory. By increasing the CPU multiplier first, and then the external clock, I could get 2844MHz out of the CPU and 1084MHz out of the RAM, by using an external clock of 203MHz. The CPU needed a higher voltage than the previous settings, as it was clocked higher. Once again, maybe it could have reached a higher frequency if another boost in voltage was applied, however at 1.48V, this quad-core ran quite hot on air. So for all of the overclocked tests, I will use these settings.



  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. SPECviewperf 10
  4. PCMark Vantage Professional
  5. SiSoft Sandra XII
  6. ScienceMark 2.02 Final
  7. CineBench 10
  8. HD Tune 2.55
  1. Crysis
  2. Knights of the Sea
  3. BioShock
  4. Call of Duty 4
  5. World in Conflict
  6. Call of Juarez
  7. Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
  8. 3DMark 06 Professional


First up are the system specific benchmarks that will test overall scientific performance. For the science tests, only the scores when paired with the PowerColor HD 4850 discrete card are shown to make the direct comparison to the other boards with the same setup.


To get things started, I will begin with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:


The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete. So lower is better.













WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. I will use 10MB, 100MB, and 500MB files, as well as test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds.





In Apophysis, the Abit AN78GS is on par with the others. In WinRAR, it showed an advantage, especially when compressing in the ZIP format, where it washed all of its opponents.


SPECviewperf 10 is a benchmark designed to test OpenGL performance. I will be using the multi-threaded tests to measure the performance when run in this mode. The tests used for comparison are listed below. The default multi-threaded tests were chosen to be able to compare across platforms. In these tests, higher scores equate to better performance.




















PCMark Vantage is used to measure complete system performance. I will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual board to see which board, if any, rises above the others.


In SpecViewperf10, the Abit AN78GS is once again in the middle of the crowd. However, it seems to have a slight advantage in PCMark Vantage.


SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key areas of the motherboards.








Processor Arithmetic




Multi-Core Efficiency




Memory Bandwidth




Memory Latency



Cache and Memory




File System




Physical Disks




Power Management Efficiency



SiSoft Sandra suggests that the multi-core efficiency is not as good as it could be, but that the memory bandwidth is far more superior compared to the other boards. The physical disks tests indicate that it would be a bit faster.


ScienceMark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, I ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison, where higher is better.












CineBench is useful for testing a system CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. I will be using the default tests for this benchmark.



HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.




In ScienceMark, the AN78GS gets the lowest score. However, in Cinebench, it has an advantage over the other boards. HDTune states the same as SiSoft Sandra, that the storage device performance is better.  The Abit AN78GS literally owned the other AMD boards using the southbridge SB750. In fact, the ID075C from NVidia used on this Abit board is on par with the Intel ICH10R, based on the results found here.


Crysis has been out for quite some time now. In that time, there has yet to be a single or multi-GPU setup that can fully showcase the graphics performance of the game.  The Crysis single player demo includes both CPU and GPU benchmarks to test the performance of your processor and video card.


Video Settings:










The AN78GS is in the middle of the crowd until the the 1920x1200 resolution is reached, where it simply does not drop like the comparison boards.


PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new DX10 title that features its own proprietary graphics engine currently in development. The game is a combination of Real Time Strategy and Simulation. The player has the ability to control the entire crew or just a single member. Play as the German, Russian or Allied navies, and prove your mettle on the open seas.


Video Settings:









The board showed a net advantage in Knights of the Sea, where it won all resolutions by an average of three frames per second.


BioShock is one of the creepier games out in the wild, chronicling the building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong - its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory, with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left, while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddies". It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This First Person Shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played. The environment as well as the story line will wrap you up for hours on end.


Video Settings:









Again, the Abit board showed a slight advantage in Bioshock.


Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare is the successor to the Call of Duty crown. This iteration of the game is fought in many modern-day hot spots with modern armaments and firepower. You can play as either a US Marine or British SAS trooper. Since this game does not feature an in-game test, I will run through a section of the game and measure average FPS using Fraps 2.9.3.


Video Settings:








Strangely enough, the AN78GS could not keep up with the other boards as the resolution was increased, dropping to a mere 69 frames per second at the highest resolution.


World in Conflict is a newly released DX10, Real Time Strategy game that simulates the all-out war the world hopes never comes. The difference in this RTS game is that it is not the typical "generate wealth and build" type of game. Instead, you advance by conquering your foe.


Video Settings:








Once again, the Abit board is back at the top of the pile, winning all four resolutions by 3-4 frames per second.


Call of Juarez is a DX10, First Person Shooter set in the Wild West of the late 1800's. The game is inspired, in part, by the movies of the Wild West genre of the seventies and eighties. The game can be played as both single player and multiplayer. The game focuses on realistic graphics and gameplay designed to take advantage of the latest video cards on the market.


Video Settings:









At 1280x1024, the AN78GS crushed its opponents by a whopping 10 frames per second, which is in the middle of the 1024x768 and 1680x1050 scores, compared to the others. Other than that, it was on par. Overclocking did not give any net increase in score.


Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts is the latest chapter in the Company of Heroes series. The scene is WWII. The mission is Operation Market Garden, the first allied attempt to break into the Third Reich. Play as the British or Germans. This real-time strategy game is brought to us by Relic Entertainment.


Discrete Video Settings:









The comparison motherboards once again lost their titles when facing the Abit AN78GS.


3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.












The AN78GS was slightly advantaged compared to its competitors. It only lost the largest resolution by a mere 16 marks.


I was impressed by the Abit AN78GS performance. In almost every game test, it had the advantage over the comparison boards. It was always a few frames per second over the top of the pile, except in Call of Duty 4, where it fell short at higher resolutions. Furthermore, the GeForce 8200 integrated graphics processor can allow great energy savings if the Hybrid power technology is turned on. It can also give a hand to a low-end discrete graphics card in graphics intensive applications, by working in SLI. This onboard device has three different connectors to plug to any display device. The old VGA is still there as well as DVI and HDMI. Moreover, The southbridge ID075C from NVidia used on that Abit board has also crushed its AMD opponent, the SB750. The performance is closer to the Intel counterpart, the ICH10R.

When it came to the time of overclocking, the AN78GS performed not too bad. A maximum stable external clock of 223MHz could be achieved. However, the maximum clock I could achieve on the processor and memory were not as high as I expected. But if we compare to boards such as the Gigabyte GA-M78SM-S2H, I am very proud of it. Furthermore, I didn't get any BSOD during the whole process! Isn't that wonderful? OCCT was there to notice me of an unstability.

However, there was also a downside. When I changed settings in the BIOS and then hit F10 to save and exit, it simply would not restart. And I didn't necessarily have to overclock to get this problem. Only changing settings like putting some on "Manual" and disabling fan control without changing any value would cause that problem. But what's weird is that if I changed only one or two settings at a time, it would be fine, compared as if I changed many. Another downside of the AN78GS is that the RAM slots are too close to the socket. If large heatsinks like the popular Thermalright Ultra-120 are used, one set of slots are unusable. Talking of heatsink, I was a bit disappointed by the GeForce 8200 one. The fins are thick and the heatpipe linking it to the voltage regulators heatsink is not even made of copper. I felt that under load, that heatsink stayed quite hot, which means the heat is not dissipated as well as it could be. One last thing, This board has only 4 rear USB ports, which is pretty limited for some people.

Overall, the Abit AN78GS is a solid board with great features and performance, for a relatively low price. I would recommend it to anyone planning on using an AMD processor along with a single dedicated NVidia graphics card. The integrated GeForce 8200 also makes it a great board for an HTPC build.