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First Look: Abit AW9D-MAX

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DougEdey 1st September 2006, 12:30 Quote
Looks like you can't wait for a review sample Tim.
perplekks45 1st September 2006, 12:32 Quote
I like the color scheme... and the performance of course. I'd really like to switch to Conroe but I ain't got the money right now.
Any advices which board to buy then? I'd love to keep my gfx card to save some money... and yea it's AGP. :(
Tim S 1st September 2006, 12:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougEdey
Looks like you can't wait for a review sample Tim.
You're right, I can't :D
specofdust 1st September 2006, 12:48 Quote
Well, I'm seriously considering my current(junk) setup, and this thing looks encouraging. Can't wait for a review, here's hoping it's stable and clocky. If so, I just found my next mobo :D
Mankz 1st September 2006, 14:09 Quote
i wish abit learned to put more PCI slots in instead of express x 1 slots...

on that board, you cant have a dual GPU set-up and then an X-FI and a TV tuner.....

silly.
specofdust 1st September 2006, 14:13 Quote
No! We need a move to PCI-E, PCI is crappy and incredibly limited, the sooner we get rid of it the better.
Paradigm Shifter 1st September 2006, 14:43 Quote
Well, until some soundcard manufacturers start trying to make PCI-E soundcards, rather than saying, "It's too hard", a single PCI slot that is lost if you go dual graphics seems like a pretty bad oversight - at least in slot positioning.

All-in-all, though, that looks quite a nice board - if it's already outperforming Bad Axe in its pre-prod state, when the final BIOS is released, it might have tightened up some more. :D

I guess I'm a bit torn about this - potential for being an overclockers dream, lots of space round the CPU, passively cooled... just the PCI slot and the odd emptiness of the back panel (more USB ports would have been nice - possibly even a 4-pin or 6-pin firewire port...)
specofdust 1st September 2006, 14:55 Quote
The thing does look like it has a couple of USB headers below the southbridge, and a firewire port to the left of, and behind the two PCI-E 1x slots, but that may be something else.

I'm really excited about this board, if it's everything Tim seems to think it's going to be, it looks perfect for a reliable conroe setup.
Tim S 1st September 2006, 15:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mankz_91
i wish abit learned to put more PCI slots in instead of express x 1 slots...

on that board, you cant have a dual GPU set-up and then an X-FI and a TV tuner.....

silly.
It's an overclocker's board - the MAX series always has been about overclocking. Also, there are already TV tuners on PCI-Express and I can see Creative moving that way in the future too... ;)
kenco_uk 1st September 2006, 15:24 Quote
IMO, the layout of the PCI/PCI-e slots is crap. If this board is aimed at overclockers, surely they must realise that you're going to have an sli setup and with most of them taking up two slots, you're left (only just) with one PCI-e x 1 slot. Wowee. They could easily have stuck another PCI or PCI-e slot on at the bottom to accomodate an existing sound card. I know I wouldn't put up with onboard sound, knowing that it's still inferior to 'proper' sound cards.

Apart from that niggle, it's looking good.
specofdust 1st September 2006, 15:32 Quote
Actually, this is something that's starting to bug me tim, why are all PCI/PCI-E layouts utter s***e? Manu's always make slots that obscure each other if filled, or obscure USB or some other connectors. I know space is limited, but couldn't they just give us fewer usable slots(say 4 usable slots) instead of trying to give us 6 that are so crammed together that 2-3 is the best we can ever use? It used to be that with a good mobo you could get your graphics card in there, and then basicly everyone had more PCI slots then they'd ever need, but it seems like these days that every type of slot is some hyper-rare commodity, and even in the most expensive mobo's we're starving for lack of the things once we stick a couple of cards in there.

Why must this be the case?
Mankz 1st September 2006, 15:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S
It's an overclocker's board - the MAX series always has been about overclocking. Also, there are already TV tuners on PCI-Express and I can see Creative moving that way in the future too... ;)

I take your point, but At the moment most people use X-FIs and PCI TV tuners...

most top end PCs use at least 1 PCI slot, and also, why bother putting it next to the PCI-E x16, when dual slot coolers on the big GPU's are now the norm. you cant get anything in to the PCI slot if your using X18/19 crossfire...
Bindibadgi 1st September 2006, 16:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by specofdust
Actually, this is something that's starting to bug me tim, why are all PCI/PCI-E layouts utter s***e? Manu's always make slots that obscure each other if filled, or obscure USB or some other connectors. I know space is limited, but couldn't they just give us fewer usable slots(say 4 usable slots) instead of trying to give us 6 that are so crammed together that 2-3 is the best we can ever use? It used to be that with a good mobo you could get your graphics card in there, and then basicly everyone had more PCI slots then they'd ever need, but it seems like these days that every type of slot is some hyper-rare commodity, and even in the most expensive mobo's we're starving for lack of the things once we stick a couple of cards in there.

Why must this be the case?

I don't see how this could possibly happen since space is so limited in the ATX format and you still need to put in a northbridge somewhere (usually). Thankfully only the highest end graphics have dual slot coolers so you can usually use the one underneath, but mobo manuf.s have to be seen to be using PCIe slots in order to advertise the fact they are still ahead technologically etc.

Also, PCIe slots take far smaller and fewer traces to wire unlike PCI and PCI slots all generally have to be routed together because they all sit on the same bus. Since they originate from the southbridge this is often in the bottom-most part of a mobo and there needs to be a minimum 2 slot gap for SLI/CF so you're already 3 slots down out of a potential 5 or 6.

Epox was one of the only mobo manufacturers to implement 6 PCI slots back in AGP/PCI days, most others included 5 and space for other connectors which is still the case so you're left NOW with just space for 2 at most considering everyone has to offer firewire, HD sound, 10 million USB ports, extra SATA etc

I hope that reads ok, Ive been looking at a PC too long today already to have the energy to re-read it right now.
kenco_uk 1st September 2006, 16:04 Quote
Or a 7900GTX

Bindi, the trouble is that, looking at the board, abit could easily have fitted another pci or pci-e slot under the existing pci slot. It's a choice of either sli or pci sound card. I know there's single slot gpu's, but to reiterate that abit are aiming for overclockers, no self-respecting mhz-whore is going to have anything less than double slot gpus in sli.
Bindibadgi 1st September 2006, 16:13 Quote
Well it also comes down to mobo noise as well, if you pack too much in you get more noise and less stability.
Tim S 1st September 2006, 17:23 Quote
Mankz, if we lived in the years of legacy, technology would never move forwards. For example, if we were still using socket 478, we wouldn't have something like Core 2 Duo - the same is true about Socket A. Don't get me wrong, I understand your point of view and Abit is marketing the AW9D-MAX as an overclocker's board. If you want a combination of overclockability and expansion, DFI's boards are probably a safer bet.

There would be a second PCI slot if Abit had chosen not to include AudioMAX along with the second SATA controller. However, Abit wanted to go that way with its sound solution, as the company believes it is slightly higher quality than an embedded solution. I agree with that sentiment during my time using Abit products - there tends to be less interference, but it is not completely gone. It's horses for courses in that respect.

IMO, anyone who is really serious about having a fast system would be watercooling the two video cards they've installed. ;)
Sinner666 1st September 2006, 17:52 Quote
At least its nice and sexy black as opposed to bright neon colors.
kenco_uk 1st September 2006, 17:56 Quote
Agreed, for a mobo, it's teh sex!
Tulatin 1st September 2006, 19:39 Quote
Nevermind what it can do, what i'm interested in is if this board will be worth something like the Abit of Past, or if it'll just come out with 10,000 forum issues...
airchie 1st September 2006, 20:19 Quote
Yeah, bring back the Kt7a-Raid days!! :D

I have always liked abit boards and I will be keeping an eye open for reviews of this one when they're available... :)
Techno-Dann 2nd September 2006, 04:28 Quote
Eh... I find myself agreeing with those who say the expansion card layout isn't that hot. If/when I go Conroe (Depends on how K9 K8-L does), I'll probably go DFI. Or maybe ASUS, if they come out with something better than the P5WDH.

They need to make an E-ATX overclocker's board... Plenty of space for big cards, FET coolers, NB sinks, and a monster CPU cooler too...
nekrosoft13 2nd September 2006, 10:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S
Mankz, if we lived in the years of legacy, technology would never move forwards. For example, if we were still using socket 478, we wouldn't have something like Core 2 Duo - the same is true about Socket A. Don't get me wrong, I understand your point of view and Abit is marketing the AW9D-MAX as an overclocker's board. If you want a combination of overclockability and expansion, DFI's boards are probably a safer bet.

There would be a second PCI slot if Abit had chosen not to include AudioMAX along with the second SATA controller. However, Abit wanted to go that way with its sound solution, as the company believes it is slightly higher quality than an embedded solution. I agree with that sentiment during my time using Abit products - there tends to be less interference, but it is not completely gone. It's horses for courses in that respect.

IMO, anyone who is really serious about having a fast system would be watercooling the two video cards they've installed. ;)

audiomax is worthless, boards like this should have 3 pci, and drop integrated sound all together.
Tim S 2nd September 2006, 14:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by nekrosoft13
audiomax is worthless, boards like this should have 3 pci, and drop integrated sound all together.
If only it was that easy...

Also, both DFI's Karajan module and Abit's AudioMAX deliver better sound quality than on-board solutions, because the interference is greatly reduced. I have used both Karajan, AudioMAX and normal on-board sound in my own system for extended periods of time (all three were AC'97). The Karajan/AudioMAX had significantly less signal interference than a typical on-board solution through a pair of Sennheiser HD570's. If you're listening to music and move your mouse, the 'on-board' solution results in occasional noise and interference. This also happens during heavy hard drive access if you are using the on-board controllers and if you are transferring data across the network.

You just don't get that to the same extent on the AudioMAX/Karajan, because the electronics relating to the audio codec have been moved away from other circuits and traces on the motherboard. With that said, the Karajan/AudioMAX are not going to replace an X-Fi or equivalent soundcard, but they are a good deal better than traditional on-board solutions. Considering that they come with the mobo, I don't think it is a bad thing. However, it would have been nicer to put the AudioMAX slot on the AW9D-MAX above the primary graphics slot and added a second PCI slot at the bottom.

I've experienced similar things with the three different solutions in the labs too; although this time, all three were based on the ALC88x-series codecs. I mentioned the fact that I've used all three implementations (based on AC'97) for a long time in my home system because I have formed that opinion over time, rather than over a couple of weeks of testing in the lab.
Bindibadgi 2nd September 2006, 14:28 Quote
Just to echo Tim's point: Im never buying a Creative card unless there's no other choice. Even though these guys rave on about it they are over-expensive, with serious driver support issues and continually make claims that the hardware cannot match. HD audio is pretty decent considering it's free and whilst not perfect, the AudioMAX boards make it a bit better.
DFI's Karajan is a better implementation than AudioMAX that's for sure.
yahooadam 2nd September 2006, 17:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S
IMO, anyone who is really serious about having a fast system would be watercooling the two video cards they've installed. ;)
thats true, plus watercooling can be much more quiet too

however, even with watercooling you would only have 1 PCI slot, seems strange to have 2 PCI-Ex1 slots when there are still barley any PCI-E Expansion cards
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