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Intel 915P Shootout : ABIT AG8
By Zachary Chan
Category : Mainboard
Published by Vijay Anand on Wednesday, 19th January, 2005

ABIT AG8 (The Good)

After our last outing with the AA8-DuraMAX, we can't help but feel a sense of déjà vu with a similar board design and choice of components used. As a standard feature available in all ABIT motherboards, let's not forget the µGuru technology - ABIT's proprietary hardware monitoring and overclocking technology. Ever since µGuru's inception, ABIT has refined the functions and interface into four core components, namely ABIT EQ, OC Guru, FlashMenu and BlackBox. Through µGuru, the AG8 provides detailed and comprehensive system monitoring functions and excellent on-the-fly overclocking abilities, both in the BIOS and within the Windows environment.

ABIT's 'power' features include a comprehensive POST LED and the hardware µGuru chip.

The AG8 supports storage features found on the ICH6R SouthBridge. This means that there is native support for four SATA devices and one Ultra ATA connector. ABIT decided not to be stingy and provided all four SATA data cables with the package. For the memory subsystem, ABIT opted to go with regular DDR memory support instead of DDR2 with the AG8. Do not let this deter you however, as the results between DDR and and current generation DDR2 are not as large as you may think. The AG8 has four color coded DIMM slots to identify dual channel operation and can accommodate a maximum memory configuration of 4GB.

IDE and four SATA connectors at the lower half of the board. Not necessarily the most ideal position, but should not pose much of a hassle.

The ABIT AG8 supports only normal DDR memory, which is both a cost saver and upgrade friendly for those retiring older DDR systems.

Of the 5 expansion slots available, three are PCI Express x1.

In terms of peripheral connectivity, the AG8 is a fully featured board. Besides the eight USB 2.0 ports natively available through Intel's ICH6R SouthBridge, ABIT has also included support for FireWire. Using a Texas Instruments OHCI PHY/Link Layer Controller (TSB43AB23), the AG8 supports up to three IEEE 1394a ports. Through the bundled bracket, you can make use of six of the eight available USB 2.0 ports and all three FireWire ports right out of the box. Interestingly, one of the FireWire ports provided comes in the form of a mini IEEE 1394 connector. This is a thoughtful feature as it allows much better compatibility with devices such as DV cameras.

Texas Instruments IEEE 1394 controller. Two additional headers can be seen above.

Additional USB and IEEE 1394 in one bracket.

The board also has built in LAN support and we see that ABIT implements a commonly used Realtek chip. The RTL8110S-32 is a single chip 32-bit PCI Gigabit Ethernet controller. The faster 1000Mbps LAN speeds are certainly welcomed, but it would have been much better if ABIT went with a PCI Express based solution.

Realtek PCI Gigabit Ethernet chip.

Lasty, the AG8 sports active cooling for the NorthBridge and a smaller passive heatsink is also attached to the SouthBridge to help dissipate heat. Instead of thermal tape or worse, gluing the coolers onto the chipset, ABIT applies thermal paste offering better heat conductivity. The coolers can also be easily removed or replaced if you decide to use custom cooling solutions.

Active cooling for the NorthBridge may just increase your chances of a higher overclock.

Capacitors are moved out of the way to clear the area for even the large CPU coolers.

Well occupied with essential ports. Notice the full analog surround audio and optical S/PDIF jacks.

The following overclocking settings are available for the ABIT AG8:-

  • FSB Settings: 100MHz to 400MHz
  • NorthBridge strap CPU: PSB800/PSB533
  • PCIe Frequency: 99MHz to 255MHz
  • PCI Clock Sync: 33.33MHz, 66.36MHz, 40.00MHz
  • RAM Frequency: DDR333, DDR400
  • CPU Voltage Settings: 1.3625-1.7125V (in 0.025V steps)
  • Memory Voltage Settings: 2.5-2.7V (in 0.05V steps) , 2.7-2.9V (in 0.1V steps), 2.9-3.1V (in 0.05V steps), 3.2V
  • Chipset Voltage Settings: 1.5 – 2.05V (in 0.05V steps)
  • Multiplier Selection: Yes (unlocked CPUs only)

    Tested & Certified Components
    Graphics Card MSI RX600XT-TD128
    Memory 2 x 512MB Kingston DDR-400
    Power Supply Unit AcBel 400W (API4PC01)
    Cooler CoolerMaster CI5-9HDPA-01
    Hard Disk Maxtor DiamondMax 10 200GB SATA
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