Abit IN9 32x Max Intel Socket 775 Motherboard
Close Look - abit IN9 32x Max Socket 775 Intel Motherboard
The board itself
Now lets take a good look at how the board is layed out and see if we like it.
First of all the PCB is black which is a great start as to me this is far more aesthetically pleasing than any other mainboard colour.
Taking a long hard look at the layout shows that there is very little that abit have put in the "wrong" place. The socket area has a lot of clearance with not a cap in sight to get in the way. The 90° rotated SATA and IDE connectors are excellent and everything appears to be where it should be - around the edge of the board. Perhaps those who want to use SLI with high-end cards won't be happy with the lack of accessible PCI slots, but I feel that abit have done very well in squeezing in two.
One thing I would like more motherboards to do would be to lose the PCI-e 1x slot above the PCI-e x16 slot, although on this board your GPU would be touching the heatsink.
Coming on to the heatsink: it gets very hot. My temp sensors were screaming at me that when overclocking I was hitting 80-90°C and above at full load. Pretty high stuff really for a board that isn't supplied with a fan (although mounting brackets are included). I think abit should address this if they ever decide on a hardware revision as usually their heatpipe coolers are excellent, the simple and cheap inclusion of a fan for the NorthBridge like Asus have done in the past would be fine to keep those temperatures down.
The board has high-quality solid Japanese capacitors throughout, great for stability.
The DDR2 slots are far enough away from the CPU area that you should be able to get a rather large heatsink and tall DDR2 on-board without too much hassle. Here we also see one of the power phases, a couple of 90° and standard SATA ports and the ATX 24pin power connector all at the edge of the board.
As we move on to the socket area we notice that the board has excellent clearance. The only slightly tight part of the board is around the PWM heatsink where very large coolers may possibly butt up against the boards heatsink. All in all I would say most
cooling configurations should easily fit on the board with no problems.
Here we see that abit have chosen to go with three PCI-e slots along with a couple of PCI-e x1 slots and 2 PCI slots too. This is certainly squeezing in a lot onto a board and gives the consumer a good deal of choice. The inclusion of the PCI-e x1 WiFi card means that that top slot need not go unused, good news for those who are into their Wireless. Once again we see that abit has taken every care to get everything in the right position at the edge of the board.
An onboard power and reset switch has been chosen for the board, meaning that those into benchmarking out of the case will be very happy. The µGuru external panel is supported on the IN9 Max, although sadly not included. Also note that the CMOS battery is in a great place for those times when the board really
doesn't want to reset...not that I have had to use it at all on this board, which is a very good thing.
Above are a couple of gratuitious shots of the motherboard showcasing the µGuru chip and the 90° SATA connectors, as well as the standard CMOS reset jumper on the far left of the second picture.
Another excellent feature of the board is the "EZ CMOS" reset switch. The board actually usually allows you to reboot straight into the BIOS to change settings if you've found a bad overclock, but this CMOS switch on the rear I/O panel is a lifesaver. No more opening the case up and having a fun time fiddling around with a small jumper: power down totally and flick this switch and the CMOS memory gets reset. This is a great feature and yes: it does actually work.
Board setup final thoughts
The board is incredibly well laid out and it's hard to list any of the very minor niggles with layout I found as an actual problem. I think that abit have done an incredible job with the IN9 32x Max board layout which will be very hard to match indeed.
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