Abit Fatal1ty AN8 - Page 4

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

On the back I/O panel are the Dual OTES exhaust system, where two 40mm fans draw heat away from the heatsinks that sit on the MOSFET's. The top left corner screw hole is covered by the duct and requires the duct to be removed for proper installation. Underneath the two 40mm fans are the PS2 keyboard and mouse ports, 4 USB, and 1 RJ45 jack for Gigabit connection. You won't see the serial and parallel ports. Although I do have an old printer that still uses parallel connection, it's time I upgrade anyway. Notice anything else different about the back I/O? There are no audio ports. This is because Abit includes a daughter card called AudioMax specifically for sound. Abit claims that with sound on a separate card, noise interference will be greatly reduced. The AudioMax comes with SPDIF In/Out as well as 6 channel support. It's rather strange to see the use of lower end Realtek ALC658 as the audio codec when there is the higher ALC850. I wouldn't say Realtek is high quality sound, but ALC850 should be the very least used. On the daughter card, there are the front I/O connectors, in case you want to extend your audio ports to the front of the case. I'm not too sure if I like the position of the audio slot way up at the top of the PCI slots. If the enthusiast wanted to connect an audio cable, it might get in the way of large heatsinks. I'll be using a separate sound card.

As for the rest of the usual IEEE1394 and USB ports, those are included on PCI brackets and connected to the appropriate ports shown earlier. Moving along, there are diagnostic LED's at the lower right corner, a great feature to have. If the system doesn't boot, you'll see why and be able to figure out the problem. Next to the diagnostic LED's is the IEEE1394 port. To the right of the floppy connector is the CMOS jumper. Throughout all testing and overclocking, I didn't have to clear CMOS a single time. At the bottom right corner of the board are the front connections. The pins are color coded and allow for easy installation without referring to the manual.

The CPU socket is clear of tall capacitors. Installing large heatsinks, like the Thermalright XP-120, won't be a problem. Unlike other Abit motherboards that have the uGuru chip located near the bottom portion of the motherboard, the Fatal1ty has the chip at the very top. It's not a big deal and doesn't make a difference.