Abit IP35 Dark Raider Socket 775 Motherboard

ccokeman - 2007-07-05 23:20:01 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: July 11, 2007
Abit
Abit
Price: $149.99 USD

Introduction:

It's time for a new motherboard and you just don't know where to turn. With the dizzying array of products out on the market today, it's tough to make a decision about who, what, where and why. If the Intel side of the fence is where your loyalties lie, Abit has a series of motherboards that offer performance from mild to wild with its IP35 series. Today's test subject is the IP35 "Dark Raider", the middle board in a trilogy of boards. Off Limits is stated boldly on the box, will the performance delivered be Off Limits? Let's find out. This board offers support for the latest 1333 FSB processors, support for quad-core, 7.1 Realtek sound with HDMI capabilities, and solid state capacitors.

Abit was formed just over 15 years ago and has had many success stories over the years. Moving forward, Abit is designing products with what it calls "Bulletproof Technology". "BulletProof Technology ensures a superior product by focusing on four key areas: Quality, Stability, Reliability, and Engineering. With BulletProof Technology, users can count on Abit products to consistently deliver award-winning performance and stability today and tomorrow".

Closer Look:

While the asian-themed artwork was nice, I like the the Monster Truck theme on this motherboard. The specifications are listed in detail on the rear panel of the box, highlighting each item.

 

 

 

Once inside the box we can see the accessories and documentation. The board is packed fairly well with support on all sides, keeping the board from sliding around. Eliminating any chance for movement is a good thing in the case of a motherboard.

 

Closer Look:

 

The amount of accessories that come with the board is a little slim, giving you the just the items you need to get started. This bundle is slightly larger than the bundle included with the IP35-E, with the inclusion of two more SATA cables and rear panel Firewire, and additional USB ports.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The expansion panel adapter includes both Firewire and USB ports to help resolve any connectivity issues by giving you a fair amount of options to use. The included SATA cables include a locking mechanism to keep your cables attached. The driver CD follows the Monster Truck theme; something Abit has done well is integrating the box artwork all the way down to the lowly driver CD.

 

Closer Look:

Here we are finally able to view the subject of this review. The color of the board reminds me of the ocean when I visited Hawaii many moons ago. It's a different shade of blue, which is very appealing. A little something for those who love to show off their hardware with a case window. The motherboard features a set of cooling strips underneath the main power circuits by the CPU socket. Something I first saw on the company's AW9D-Max 975 chipset board. As a step up the IP35 ladder, this board has a few features that the IP35-E lacks. The view of the I/O panel hints at one of these items. For rear panel connectivity, you still have the option of the PS/2 ports for both a keyboard and mouse, digital audio out, 4 USB ports, Gigabit LAN and Firewire capability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This board features one 16x PCI-E slot, two 1x PCI-E slots and 3 PCI slots for your expansion needs. Speaking of expansion, there are headers on the bottom of the board for an additional 8 USB ports that you can either connect to your case headers or to the included expansion slot bracket. This bracket also allows the connection of the Firewire header. Hidden behind the front panel audio header is the connection for the HDMI sound.

 

 

 

Each of the heat generating areas of the board are passively cooled by heatsinks. The sinks appear copper in color, but only the sink over the PWM area looks the part. Abit uses a heatpipe style cooling assembly between the nortbridge and PWM sinks to help with heat removal.

 

 

This board supports up to 8 GB of system memory by populating all four DIMM slots. The area around the heatsink looks a bit crowded on one side, with a bank of capacitors. I was concerned my heatsink might have clearance issues, but it turned out that those issues were not going to be of any concern. The only place clearance was even close was between the heatsink fan and northbridge heatsink.

 

 

Installation:

Installing the motherboard into the chassis of your choice is a pretty simple endeavor. Regardless of whether this motherboard is a replacement or new purchase, the process is the same. The first step, if this is a replacement, is to remove the old hardware and do some housekeeping. Now if you are going into a new chassis, then it's a quick and easy proposition.

 

Preperation for the install includes installing the motherboard standoff and the I/O plate included with the motherboard.

 

 

I tend to use large heatsinks on my systems, so the next order of business for me is to install the CPU and heatsink while the board is out of the system.

 

 

After setting up the CPU and heatsink, I move on to installing the board into the chassis using the hold down screws. Install your system memory, video card and any other peripherals. For this review I am only using a video card.

 

 

One thing that I had to redo was to remove the motherboard to plug in the 8-pin 12 volt power connector. It's a little difficult to get in with a large heatsink. After that fiasco, all that is left is to connect and manage all of the wiring. Connect all of your drives, then you are ready for action.

 

 

 

Closer Look:

If the BIOS images shown below look a little familiar to you, then they should if you have followed along on our reviews of Abit's foray into the P35 chipset motherboard market. The BIOS not only appears the same, but actually is. Sweet and simple, without a lot of options to confuse the novice. There are enough tweaking options to allow you to get the most of your hardware if you want to, of course. The areas of the BIOS that I will concentrate on are the Abit SoftMenu and Advanced Chipset features section,the areas most important to us overclockers.

The main BIOS page shows all of the available options and their sub-sections. The areas we will concentrate on are the Abit SoftMenu page where you can make adjustments to the CPU clock speed, memory divider, and voltages. You can choose to run with the auto setting, or manually set your options.

 

 

 

The adjustment range for the CPU clock speed goes from 200 to 600 FSB. A lofty goal to shoot for. The memory ratio can be adjusted along preset ratios ranging from 1:1 to 1:2, giving a fair amount of flexibility. Not quite what is available on the nVidia chipset boards, but sufficient. PCI-E frequency is adjustable up to 200 to help you maximize throughput on your PCI-E devices, including your video card.

 

 

Abit must have been thinking about the overclocker when designing this series of motherboards. 1.94 volts for the CPU and 3.00 volts for the memory. All other voltages are adjustable to give your components the voltage they need to perform.

 

 

 

 

Last, but not least, is the Advanced Chipset features page. All of your memory's primary and secondary timings are listed here for tweaking to maximize your memory performance.

Specifications:

CPU

 Support Intel® Core™ 2 Extreme/Duo/Quad processors with 1333/1066/800MHz FSB

 Support Intel® Core™ 2 Extreme/Quad/Duo & Pentium® Dual Core Processors

Chipset
Intel® P35 Express / ICH9R Chipset
Memory

 4 X 240-pin DIMM sockets support max. memory capacity 8GB

 Supports Dual channel DDR2 800/667 un-buffered Non-ECC memory

LAN

Onboard Gigabit LAN controller supports 10/100/1000M Ethernet

Audio

 On board 7.1 CH HD Audio CODEC

 Supports auto jack sensing and optical S/PDIF In/Out

 HDMI ready header (SPDIF header)

Expansion Slots
1 x PCI-E X16, 2 x PCI-E X1, 3 x PCI
Internal I/O

 1 x Floppy Port supports up to 2.88 MB

 1 x ATA 133/100/66/3 IDE connector

 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connector

 2 x IEEE1394, 4 x USB header (support 8 ports)

 1 x FP-Audio
Back Panel I/O

 1 x PS/2 Keyboard, 1 x PS/2 Mouse

 abit Silent OTES™

 1 x S/P DIF In, 1 x S/P DIF Out

 7.1 CH Audio connector (Front, Line-in, MIC-in, Center/Subwoofer, Surround, Rear Surround)

 4 x USB 2.0

 1 x RJ-45 LAN connector

Serial ATA

 6 x SATA 3Gb/s offer by Intel® ICH9R support Intel® Matrix Storage Tech(AHCI & RAID0/1/5/10)

 
IEEE 1394

 Supports 2 Ports IEEE 1394 at 400Mb/s transfer rate.

 
Form Factor

 ATX form factor 305 x 245mm

 PCB Color: Blue
RoHS
100% lead-free process and RoHS compliant
abit Engineered

 abit Silent OTES™ Technology

 Japanese made Low ESR and high ripple conductive polymer aluminum solid state capacitor around the CPU socket

 100% Japanese made capacitor

 

Features:

 

Testing:

I will be running the Abit IP35 through our benchmarking suite to show what kind of performance this motherboard delivers. The benchmarking suite we use includes both system tests, as well as gaming benchmarks. To make my performance comparisons, I will use not only the IP35-E, but also one of the NF 680i chipset motherboards on the market now, the XFX 680iLT. All clock speeds and memory timings will be the same on each of the boards to eliminate any variables. All video card settings were left at setup defaults, again eliminating any variables.

 

Testing Setup:

Comparison System:

 

The system tests we will be using are listed below:

Lets get started 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.

 

Lower is Better

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Testing:

Specview is a benchmark designed to test Open GL performance. The tests used for comparison are listed below. The default tests were chosen to be able to compare across platforms. In these tests, higher scores equate to better performance

 

 

 

Higher is Better

 

 

Higher is Better

 

 

Higher is Better

 

Higher is Better

 

It looks like the Abit IP35 is equal to or better in this test compared to the 680i based board

Testing:

PcMark05 is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual board, to see which manufacturer, if any, rises above the others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is Better

 

 

Higher is Better

 

 

Higher is Better

 

 

Higher is Better

Testing:

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 guage the performance of key areas of the motherboard.

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

 

Multi-Core Efficiency

 

Memory Bandwidth

 

Memory Latency

 

Cache and Memory

 

File System

 

Physical Disks

 

Power Management Efficiency

 

Testing:

Sciencemark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.

 

 

 

 

Higher is Better!

 

Cinebench is useful for testing your system, CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

Higher is Better

 

Higher is Better

 

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

Higher is Better

 

Higher is Better

 

Lower is Better

 

Lower is Better

 

Testing:

Now that the system benchmarks are complete, we will move on to the video benchmarking portion of the review. I will be using an EVGA 8800GTS 640MB as the video card of choice for today's test. We will be using an assortment of games to test performance across manufacturer's boards to look for any performance advantages.

 

The game tests that we use are as follows:

 

First up we have Far Cry. This game makes extensive use of pixel shaders and features Polybump normal mapping technology to increase character details.

 

We will be using the Hardware OC Benchmarking Utility version 1.8 with the following settings.

 

 

 

 

Testing:

F.E.A.R. is a newer game that includes its own benchmarking utility. We will be using this test to benchmark the game. This game introduces a new AI model that emulates real squad behavior. It has the ability to counteract the moves you make rather than having a predictable routine.

 

The settings we will use today are below:

 

 

 

 

Testing:

Microsoft Flight Simulator X is the newest edition of the popular flight simulator. For testing, I will fly the same route through each resolution. Testing will start at a resolution of 1024X768, since this is the lowest resolution available.

 

The settings we will use are listed below:

 

 

 

 

 

Flight Simulator 10 is the newest installment of the series and proves to be a severe test for even high-end systems when the quality settings are cranked up.

Testing:

Call of Duty 2 is a WWII first-person shooter game that is older, but still maintains a tremendous online following. This test will consist of a timed run on the Stalingrad multi-player map, measured by Average FPS (frames per second).

 

The settings used are listed below:

 

 

 

 

 

Testing:

Quake 4 is next up for testing. We will be using the Hardware OC Quake 4 Benchmark Utility version 1.5  to complete the testing with this game. You will need to update to the most current version for the latest time demo and bug fixes. Average FPS (frames per second) will be the measure used.

 

The settings we will use are listed below:

 

 

 

 

Testing:

Need For Speed: Most Wanted. For this test, we will time each race and record the average FPS (Frames Per Second) achieved.

 

The settings we will use are listed below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion:

After having some time to put this board through its paces, it fared equal to or better than the IP35-E in our testing, with the exception being overclocking! This is not what it sounds like. The good news is that the "Dark Raider" fared better on the overclocking front than the IP35-E. I was able to reach a clock speed of 3645 MHz  by running the processor at 405 x 9 instead of 355 x 10 on the IP35-E. Overall, that equates to better performance from this board. The double reboot issue that was so frustrating on the E model only shows it ugly head on this board when you run too far out of spec. As long as you are on the correct side of that ragged edge, it does not exist. During the video benchmarking phase of our testing, the results were on par with what the E model delivered and again, better than the competition in almost all of the tests. With the system benchmarking, the results were a little closer with the IP35 taking more performance wins than losses. Having expanded the feature set and given the board some additional performance, Abit has given the enthusiast an alternative to the high priced socket 775 motherboards on the market. Now that we have looked at the first two boards in the series and have seen the level of performance they deliver, we look foward to the final installment of this trilogy when we test the top of the line IP35 Pro. Stay tuned!

Pros:

 

 

Cons: