Eight P35-DDR2 Motherboards Compared

Abit IP35 Pro

A company with a long history in overclocking, Abit took a little longer to prepare its IP35 Pro than several competing brands. Was it worth the wait?

Features Overview

Abit starts off by adding two overclocker-friendly features to its IP35 Pro: a "Port 80" diagnostics display and a rear-panel BIOS reset switch. Bench testing is also eased with power and reset buttons on the board's top side.

Two PCI Express x16 slots help to define the IP35 Pro as a full-featured P35 Express chipset motherboard, but the second slot is limited to x4 bandwidth due to the chipset's low number of PCI Express lanes. Other slots include a single PCI Express x1 and three legacy PCI for support of up to six expansion cards. The "empty" slot position is located beneath the top PCI Express graphics slot, a place where most builders either cannot or will not put a card anyway.

Two FireWire breakout connectors below the upper graphics card slot near the board's rear edge are completely useless in high-end gaming configurations, as they are both blocked by the coolers of dual-slot graphics cards. These two breakout connections are the only points of access to the onboard FireWire controller, so high-end system builders can consider this feature something they paid for but didn't get.

Serial ATA and Ultra ATA connectors face forward from the front edge of the board's lower portion in a design that assures that cable plugs will fit under the ends of long graphics cards in either "x16" slot. This design also causes installation difficulties for cases that have the lower drive bay situated close to the motherboard's front edge, as straight SATA connectors would be blocked by the drive bay. Ninety-degree SATA connectors can only be used across "one row", or three of the six ports, because the top row of 90° connectors will prevent the second row of 90° connectors from being inserted all the way. The only adequate solution is to use a case with a compatible design.

The power connections are a better mix, at least for cases that have the power supply at the top. The eight-pin ATX12V connector sits at the top edge to avoid routing the cable around the CPU cooler, and the 24-pin ATX connector is located almost directly below the point where power cables typically exit the power supply, at the front edge of the motherboard.

Floppy, front panel audio and USB connectors are all found on the IP35 Pro's lower edge, with the audio connector in the dreaded rear corner. The floppy header is at the board's front corner, so the only problem for users who occasionally need the floppy (such as for loading RAID drivers during Windows XP installation) will be dragging the data cable up to one of their case's 3.5" external bays.

Abit finishes off its IP35 Pro design with a completely reasonable heat pipe assembly that sits low and far enough from the CPU socket to allow full access to CPU cooler mounting hardware of nearly any design - perfect for adding monster-sized sinks.

Abit IP35 Pro (Revision 1.0)
Northbridge Intel P35 GMCH
Southbridge Intel ICH9R
Voltage Regulator Four Phases
BIOS 10 (05/17/2007)
266.6 MHz (FSB1066) 266.0 MHz (-0.25%)
Connectors and Interfaces
Onboard 2x PCIe x16 (1x x16, 1x x4 pathways)
1x PCIe x1
3x PCI
4x USB 2.0 (2 ports per connector)
2x IEEE-1394 FireWire
1x Floppy
1x Ultra ATA (2 drives)
6x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s
1x Front Panel Audio
1x CD-Audio In
1x S/P-DIF Out
1x Fan 4 pins (CPU)
1x Internal Power Switch
1x Internal Reset Switch
1x LED Diagnostics Display
IO panel 2x PS2 (keyboard + mouse)
2x RJ-45 Network
4x USB 2.0
1x Clear CMOS Switch
2x Digital Audio Optical (S/P-DIF in + out)
6x Analog Audio (7.1 Channel + Mic-In + Line-In)
2x eSATA (External Serial ATA) interface
Mass Storage Controllers
Intel ICH9R 6x SATA 3.0 Gb/s (RAID 0,1,5,10)
JMicron JMB363 1x Ultra ATA-100 (2-drives)
2x SATA 3.0 Gb/s (RAID 0,1, JBOD)
Network
2x Realtek RTL8110SC PCI Controller 2x Gigabit LAN Connection
Audio
HDA (Azalia) Controller Interface Realtek ALC888 8-Channel Codec
FireWire
Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A 2x IEEE-1394a (400 Mbit/s)

Dual network controllers, two External SATA ports, and an "ordinary" 4-phase voltage regulator designate the Abit IP35 Pro as an upper-midrange product.

The rear port panel features a rarely-seen digital audio optical input, as well as a digital audio out and the full six analog audio connections. Abit keeps the legacy PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, but leaves off rarely-used parallel and serial communications ports. More significantly, Abit doesn't provide any access to its IEEE-1394 FireWire controller from this area.

Also provided are two RJ-45 network ports, two eSATA ports, and four USB 2.0 ports. A large empty spot is meant to aid ventilation, with vent slots are found in the IP35 Pro's port shield.

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