Abit AW9D Max socket 775 Motherboard
The Board - Layout and Comments
The Board - A Close-up
The AW9D Max is a great board even before you get a good look at it in the box. With a black PCB and understated colours a motherboard manufacturer cannot go wrong. All of the parts on the board are colour coded enough to be easily recognisable. The striking thing is the abit Silent OTES™ 2 Technology which dominates the board. It goes all the way across the board including the South Bridge, North Bridge and Power Management chips.
I was VERY glad to see that abit had decided to take out the very badly placed IDE port that was on the AB9. Instead the IDE connecter is located in the perfect place right on the edge of the board. Also notice that the board has 4 phase power. The output of power is clean, steady and constant.
Here is the very busy part of the board with the SATA ports, the IDE port, the abit μGuru™ chip, front panel I/O, internal USB and what I LOVE on a motherboard: power and reset buttons on board. Amazingly all of this seems to fit in together and not get in the way. The LED error code module shows you what's wrong with the board if you have a problem at all.
As we can see from these first few shots the board has all solid state capacitors. These are great for overclocking and also give the board increased reliability.
Here we see the PCI and PCI-E area close in. There's plenty of room between the PCI-E slots for a good cooler. The only disapointing thing I have found with this board is the single PCI slot included. It is also far too close to the bottom PCI-E slot - meaning that those of you with SLI/Crossfire can't use your top-spec PCI sound card as well. Notice that there is a AudioMAX™ slot on the edge of the board. This is for the Abit add-on sound card. This solves the issue stated above, but I think abit should have included an extra PCIx1 or PCI slot to give consumers the choice.
Also in the picture above is the BIOS chip and the 4Pin molex connecter that gives the PCI slots their extra power. The board will run without this but it is much more stable overclocking with this plugged in.
Here is the abit "AudioMax™" sound card. This sounds top-notch on both optical and and standard outputs. This is Hi-Def, Dolby® Master Studio Certificated and supports Dolby Pro Logic IIx 5.1 and 7.1 sound. Compared to both my Creative and HDA top-end sound cards this card really produces great sound in everything including gaming.
The FDD plugs in here on the left of the board and abit supply an extra-long cable to get to it - very thoughtful.
The board has the 8Pin 12v plug giving full native EPS 12v support. Also it is worth noticing that the board is of course RoHS compliant.
In the CPU area we can see that the board has the Silent OTES™ 2 heatpipe cooling solution. Most motherboard manufacturers are including this on their boards now and it's great not to have to have a noisy fan on the chipset. All of the mosfets are sinked for good power regulation. The area in general is free from obstacles. I have installed a very large cooler in the Scythe Infinity and found no issues at all when fitting this on the board.
Notice the extra JMicron SATA port located in the CPU area of the board. This is the case with a lot of modern board and most people thankfully do not use it. I think that there must be some way of getting this closer to the edge of the board.
The area with the RAM is far enough away that you can install oversize modules such as the Corsair Dominator modules, without any clearance issues at all. Also in the picture is the 24Pin power connecter.
Overall the board is excellently laid out and seems totally remiss of any major issues in layout at all. Abit have to be congratulated on this as this is a fairly tough thing to do.
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