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ABIT NI8 SLI (NVIDIA nForce4 SLI Intel Edition)
By Zachary Chan
Category : Mainboard
Published by Vijay Anand on Saturday, 17th September, 2005
Rating : 4.5 out of 5 stars  


Introduction

It has been a while since we last featured an nForce4 SLI Intel Edition motherboard, so we though we'd have another look at the market progression of NVIDIA's high-end Intel platform. The nForce4 SLI Intel Edition has been around for about half a year now and manufacturer support has been mounting since its inception. However, unlike the wide range of the nForce4 chipset for the AMD platform, NVIDIA has only engineered their high-end SLI part for the consumption of Intel users. When the chipset was launched, we initially saw a deluge of top-end gaming and enthusiast motherboards from ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte and announcements from many other manufacturers, but how about us ordinary Joes? Without entry-level or mainstream versions of the nForce4 for Intel, premium motherboards are usually out of the range of mainstream consumers.

This of course leaves a void in the market from the mid-range down, which Intel still dominates with their mainstream Grantsdale (i915 Express series) and the more recently announced Lakeport (i945 Express series) chipsets. However since, NVIDIA has begun pimping their new nForce4 SLI X16 chipset that would also be available in an Intel Edition, mainstream users will be getting a reprieve. Just like the phenomenon happening in the AMD camp, users can expect to see a wider range of toned town nForce4 SLI Intel Edition systems available in order to clear up the high-end segment for the upcoming nForce4 SLI X16 Intel Edition (as if the name wasn't long enough as it was).

ABIT is one of the few manufacturers that have gotten a slightly later start into the Intel SLI scene and while their Fatal1ty AN8 SLI motherboard for AMD systems have been turning heads, we've yet to see the Fatal1ty NI8 SLI, its Intel counterpart based on the nForce4 SLI Intel Edition. Looking at how market trends are moving, it seems we will never see the Fatal1ty NI8 SLI. Instead, ABIT has just launched two nForce4 SLI Intel Edition boards targeted at the mid-range and mainstream. Dropping the Fatal1ty moniker, the NI8 SLI becomes the current flagship while the entry-level NI8-SLI GR is suited for system integration. Since the NI8 SLI became ABIT's first nForce4 SLI Intel Edition motherboard, we took it for a spin to see if ABIT lives up to its claims of 'Intel SLI done right'.

The ABIT NI8 SLI motherboard.


The ABIT NI8 SLI came with the following peripheral bundle:-
  • 6 x SATA data cables
  • 1 x 80-conductor Ultra ATA data cable
  • 1 x floppy drive data cable
  • I/O shield
  • Driver CD
  • SATA and RAID driver diskettes
  • User's manual

    ABIT NI8 SLI Technical Specifications
    CPU Support
    • Supports 90nm LGA775 processor package
    • Supports Intel Pentium Processor Extreme Edition 
    • Supports Intel Pentium D Smithfield processors
    • Supports Intel Pentium 4 / Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processors
    • Intel Hyper-Threading Technology ready
    Chipset
    • NVIDIA nForce4 SLI Intel Edition SPP
      • 400 - 1066MHz front side bus
      • NVIDIA DualDDR2 Memory Controller
      • One x16 PCI Express link for graphics card. 
        • Supports Scalable Link Interface Technology (SLI) for dual PCIe x8 interfaces
      • Supports up to four PCI Express x1 lanes
    • NVIDIA nForce4 SLI Intel Edition MCP
      • Supports up to ten USB 2.0 ports
      • Supports four SATA II ports
      • Dual-channel Ultra ATA-133 IDE controller
      • Supports up to six PCI slots
    Memory
    • NVIDIA DualDDR2 architecture
      • 4 x 240-pin DIMM sockets support max. 4GB DDR2 400/533/667 non-ECC memory
      • Slot independant dual-channel mode
      • NVIDIA QuickSync
      • NVIDIA DASP 3.0
    Storage
    • NVIDIA nForce4 SLI Intel Edition MCP
      • 4 x Ultra ATA 33/66/100/133 (data transfer rate up to 133MB/sec.)
      • 4 x SATA II (Serial ATA II 3.0Gbps interface)
      • NVIDIA MediaShield Technology
      • Supports RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1, RAID 5, JBOD
      • Supports RAID Morphing
    • Silicon Image Sil3132 SATAIIRAID controller
      • 2 x SATA II (Serial ATAII 3.0Gbps interface)
      • Supports RAID 0, RAID 1
      • Supports eSATA
    Audio
    • ABIT AudioMAX 7.1
      • Realtek ALC850 8-channel audio CODEC
      • 8-Channel Audio I/O ports
      • Optical S/PDIF out
    Networking
    • NVIDIA Gigabit LAN co-supported by Vittesse VSC8201 PHY chip (Transceiver)
    I/O Interface
    • 1 x Floppy connector
    • 2 x Ultra ATA IDE connectors
    • 6 x SATA connectors
    • 10 x USB 2.0 ports (4 x rear, 6 x header)
    • 1 x RJ45 LAN port
    • 1 x mini-DIN-6 PS/2 mouse port
    • 1 x mini-DIN-6 PS/2 keyboard port
    Expansion Slots
    • 2 x PCIe x16 slots, PCI Express Bus specification v1.0a compliant
    • 2 x PCIe x1 slots, PCI Express Bus specification v1.0a compliant
    • 2 x 32-bit PCI slots, PCI 2.3 compliant
    Special Features
    • ABIT µGuru
    • ABIT CPU ThermalGuard
    • ABIT OC Strips
    PCB
    • ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9.6"(30.5cm x 24.4cm)


    A very simple rear panel, which does away with legacy Serial and Parallel ports. If you get the NI8 SLI, you'd have to make sure that all your devices are USB ready.
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