Abit Fatal1ty AN8 - Page 3

Written by John Chen    Tuesday, 22 March 2005 11:00
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Motherboard Layout

Right off the bat, I can tell you that the AN8 has a great motherboard layout. The Fatal1ty AN8 and the regular AN8 differ in only a few areas. The main difference is the chipset used. The Fatal1ty AN8 features the nForce4 Ultra while the AN8 features the regular nForce4. What's the difference between the two? In case you missed Nvidia's nForce4 launch, the vanilla nForce4 lacks SATA2 and ActiveArmor support. The regular AN8 also doesn't include red motherboard LED's, OTES RAMFlow, a fiery red PCB, and a few accessories. Whether the AN8 will be as good as the Fatal1ty version in terms of overclocking and performance, we won't know until later.

For the sake of avoiding confusion, I'll refer to the Fatal1ty AN8 as “Fatal1ty”. I mentioned earlier that the motherboard has a great layout because of the position of the motherboard chipset. Unlike nForce3 and some nForce4 motherboards that have the chipset sitting at the corner of the AGP/PCI-E slot, the chipset on the Fatal1ty sits above the PCI-E slot. This allows enthusiasts to swap out for a better aftermarket cooling solution, like the Swiftech MCX159 or Thermalright NB-1, without interfering with the graphic card. The stock chipset cooler is all copper and does a good job at cooling the chipset. The noise level of the cooler isn't a major factor. It's quiet when the system is idle and speeds up when the system is under full load. The noise level did go up, but not enough to be heard inside a case.

Because this is a Socket 939 motherboard, there are four DIMM slots available. The slots are color coded for dual channel identification. Memory can be installed in slots 1 & 2 or 3 & 4 for dual channel. The 24pin ATX power connector is located at the edge of the motherboard, near the middle. This allows for easy tucking of the large power cable. The 4pin 12v connector is located right above the CPU socket, towards the top left corner of the motherboard. Right next to 12v connector is the CPU fan header.

The Fatal1ty offers two IDE ports and 4 SATA ports. The IDE ports are placed at a 0° angle, instead of the usual 90° angle. This usually allows for better tucking of IDE cables depending on the case you use. The SATA ports are located near the edge of the PCI-E slot, which is not ideal if you have a large graphic card. The SATA ports support the new SATA2 interface and allows the use of RAID 0, 1, 0+1, and JBOD. Below the SATA ports are the 3 additional USB headers. The USB headers are one of the two things I didn't like about the board placement. It's located below the PCI-E slot, so if your 6800GT/Ultra has an Arctic Cooling Silencer, you can pretty much rule out the use of all USB headers. Speaking of the onboard slots, the Fatal1ty provides one PCI-E x16, two PCI-E x1, three PCI, and one Abit audio slot. There are basically no PCI-E x1 add on cards available, so having too many would be useless. It would be better to provide regular PCI slots, and Abit provides a total of three. If you plan to use a large graphic cooler that takes up a PCI slot, you're left with two. These two can be used for a wireless NIC and a separate sound solution. At the very bottom of the board, next to the floppy, is an indication of where a 12v 4pin connector would be on their SLI motherboard. This is only an assumption, but if they stick to it, it would be a poor location. Having a power cable stretch all the way down to the bottom of the motherboard isn't ideal at all.