Market Survey, Part 1: A Comparison Of The Latest Pentium 4 Motherboards

Abit Fatal1ty AA8XE (Intel 925XE)

The somewhat unusual design of the fixed voltage regulator housing catches the eye right away.

Board revision: 1.0

BIOS version: 1.1 (December 3, 2004)

With its line of Fatal1ty motherboards , Abit is systematically targeting computer enthusiasts and gamers. The AA8XE was thus developed in collaboration with a top semi-professional gamer, to ensure that the finished product would be a hit with techies. The board's outstanding overclocking options are impressive, and it we obtained FSB clock speeds with it several times up near the 300 MHz mark.

One essential feature for successfully overclocking fast P4 processors is unlocking the x14 multiplier, which limits CPU clock speed to 2.8 GHz. This is activated as a precaution in the absence of a performance requirement bit (PRB), so that a processor capable of 115 Watts won't overtax a board made for 84 Watts. Unfortunately, this function did not always work reliably in the test, and the mainboard often shut itself off. After a CMOS reset the board then started up at an exaggerated 204 MHz FSB clock speed. The DDR2 memory is also run at CL4 for safety's sake, and CL3 has to be activated manually. We observed that with numerous DIMMs tested, the board only boots up dependably at 1.9 V RAM voltage.

There was an earlier issue where Windows XP installed on a different system could not then be started on Abit boards with the µGuru chip. Fortunately, Abit now has this problem under control.

All fan connections can be regulated separately with regard to minimum and maximum voltage, so it is possible to make the system as quiet as a whisper. The two additional fans for the voltage regulators run on 6 V fan voltage starting at 40°C, and 12 V from 50°C and up. The latter results in perceptible noise levels, but in well-ventilated systems, the two fans don't even kick in. Abit did not provide additional mass storage controllers, so buyers can only connect a maximum of two ATA/100 devices.

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Abit Fatal1TY AA8XE (Rev. 1.0)
PlatformSocket LGA775
NorthbridgeIntel 925X
SouthbridgeIntel ICH6R
BIOSRow 3 - Cell 1
USB 2.04 / 2
IEEE1394/Firewire1 / 2
Serial COM Portnone / none
Parallel LPT Portnone / none
LAN2 / none
WLANnone / none
SATA4 / none
Audio analognone / 6
Audio digitalnone / 1
Connectorsonboard only
PCIe 16x1
PCIe 1x2
IDE (PATA)1 ( 2 channels)
Fan 4 pins (CPU)1
Fan 3 pins (System)1
Mass Storage Controller
ICH6R2x IDE (ATA100)4x SATA (RAID 0,1,0+1)
Intel 82562 PCIe1x 1 Gbit/s LAN
Intel 62543 PCI1x 100 Mbit/s LAN
Realtek ALC8800 (5.1)AC97
IEEE1394/FirewireRow 31 - Cell 1
TI TSB43AB233x 1394b (800 Mbit/s)