Abit's new AW9D-MAX follows in a long line of "MAX" boards, which have offered the must-have features for overclockers since the first IC7-MAX3 based on the 875P chipset. We took a sneak peek at this board at the start of September and were excited with the slimming and sexy black look Abit had employed throughout the design. Finally, we have the retail board in our hands to see if it's all as good as it looks - or if beauty truly is only skin deep.
Abit AW9D-MAX Overview
Support for all Intel LGA775 processors including Pentium 4, Pentium D, Pentium Extreme Edition, Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme (including QX6700);
Intel 975X chipset and ICH7R southbridge with RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and 5 support;
Support for up to 8GB of DDR2-533, DDR2-667 or DDR2-800MHz memory;
Two PCI-Express x16 slots with ATI Crossfire support (and unofficial NVIDIA SLI support);
Two PCI-Express x1 slots and one PCI slot;
Abit AudioMAX daughter board with Realtek ALC882M High Definition audio codec with 8 channel sound support, S/PDIF and Dolby Master Studio Certification;
Two Realtek RTL8111B PCI-Express Gigabit Ethernet controllers;
Four native SATA 3Gbps ports and three internal SATA ports and one eSATA via two Silicon Image Sil3132 controllers;
IEEE1394 Firewire 'a' from a Texas Instruments T.I. TSB43AB23 with two ports;
Eight USB 2.0 ports, four internal and four on the rear I/O.
Seven SATA cables;
Single ended rounded floppy cable;
Rounded IDE cable;
Toshlink optical S/PDIF cable;
Firewire and USB 2.0 PCI backplate;
Metal I/O panel;
Driver CD, Manuals and installation floppy disks;
AudioMAX Daughter board.
You get a whole host of stuff to keep you almost completely fixed up without the need to purchase additional cables. The floppy cable is nice and long, and is able to reach in even those cases that have 3.5" drives at the top instead of in the middle. The rounded IDE cable has snazzy clear plastic coating around a nice red and white wire setup. Also included are seven SATA cables for all the internal ports, each with clips to make sure they won't fall out unintentionally. Rounding out the definitely noteworthy inclusions is an optical S/PDIF cable for use with the included AudioMAX card (of course, it can also be used with any other optical plug as the connectors are a standard).
The only thing that could be considered MIA is a second USB 2.0 PCI back plate - you only get two extra USB 2.0 ports on the single included PCI back plate, but there are two internal USB pin-headers. However, the sacrifice is not in vain, since the Firewire is included on the same plate to minimise loss of case PCI slots. This is a good thing, since using two dual slot graphics cards will take up four slots straight away. Add that to the fact that almost every case or fan controller offers at least two front USB 2.0 ports, this isn't really much of an issue.
There are several manuals and quick installation guides included, as well as all the drivers on CD or floppies you ever might need. Abit has clearly thought this through and I really can't fault the company's choices anywhere in the bundle - that's a great thing to have to say. Gone are the days of the 3rd eye though, which is a real shame in our opinion. Having a desktop LCD was really funky, but it made for an expensive inclusion. Abit should re-release the support, but perhaps make it an optional, purchasable extra.