Features and Layout
From a feature standpoint, the IP35 Pro carries your standard Intel P35 and ICH9R core logic chipset offering up complete LGA775 processor support, which covers even the latest 45nm Penryns. The board only supports DDR2 memory, which is actually a reasonable choice for the IP35 Pro since we had initially expected abit to offer up the Intel X38 based IX38 QuadGT with DDR3 memory, thus differentiating both boards into different segments. However, it seems that the IX38 QuadGT will also be DDR2 only. It certainly looks like abit wants to focus on more affordable and still strong DDR2 market instead of banking on enthusiasts with money to blow on DDR3. But, we digress, this is a topic for another day.
Back on the IP35 Pro. Like most high-end Intel P35 motherboards, the IP35 Pro may have been designed for single GPU configurations, but they do carry support for a simple CrossFire setup. Two PCIe x16 slots exist, a full x16 slot feeding off the Northbridge and a secondary slot running at x4. In addition, the board comes with three PCI and one PCIe x1 slot for expansion purposes. The ICH9R Soutbridge provides most of the board features, including its six SATA 3.0Gbps ports and the dozen USB 2.0 ports. abit beefs up the storage portfolio with a JMicron JMB363 controller, routing both extra SATA ports as native eSATA connectors to the rear I/O panel. FireWire support comes in the form of a Texas Instruments 2-port FireWire-400 controller (TSB43AB22A). And the board also features dual Gigabit LAN port, though they both run on PCI based controllers instead of PCIe (Realtek RTL8110SC), presumably to preserve available PCIe lanes for the secondary graphics slot.
Audio is powered by a Realtek ALC888 HD Audio controller and the board has the customary HDMI header found in almost all modern motherboards for connection with HDMI-ready graphics cards. We also found both optical S/PDIF Input and Output jacks on the board, which is quite rare. Other than the standard features mentioned, the only other extras include a POST LED, PCB power/reset buttons and an EZ-CMOS CMOS reset switch at the back panel.
Interestingly enough, abit eschews the usual approach of tacking on feature after feature on the IP35 Pro and instead sat down to seriously develop a board that boasts quality instead of quantity. Because of this however, the IP35 Pro may look a little 'plain', more so since the board is one of those that came later in the game in the wake of ASUS and Gigabyte’s monster motherboards. Still, the build quality of the IP35 Pro stands out and abit has taken really good care to optimize its design.
The IP35 Pro is very well done and components onboard all have a systematic layout making them easy to reach and configure. The Silent-OTES heat-pipe on the board isn't as elaborate as its competitors, but sufficiently cools the P35 chipset well enough, so we don’t have a problem there. However, rounded and wavy design means that you can’t tack on a fan to it if you so wished.