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Abit unleashes AN8 series

Abit unleashes AN8 series

The heatpipe of Silent OTES eliminates the need for a noisy fan; AudioMAX 7.1 riser card in the foreground

Following the announcement of Silent OTES earlier this month, ABIT have revealed a trio of Socket 939 motherboards featuring the zero-noise Northbridge cooling solution. The AN8 v2.0, AN8 Ultra and AN8 SLI are all based around NVIDIA's nForce 4 family of chipsets sporting (not surprisingly) NF4, NF4 Ultra and NF4 SLI Northbridges respectively.

The design of the Silent OTES can be cleverly adapted to suit different PCB layouts: the precise placement of the Northbridge varies between the regular AN8 boards and their SLI-powered bigger brother, but subtle bending of the heatpipe allows it to navigate around vital components while still transferring heat from the Northbridge to the heat exchanger.

Silent cooling won't be the only reason you'll want one of these boards: while the AN8 v2.0 is the mainstream model, the Ultra and SLI versions not only sport four SATA-II ports, Gigabit ethernet, up to 4Gb of DDR 400 memory and AMD Athlon 64 / FX processors as fast as they go, but also mark the introduction of another new ABIT feature: AudioMAX 7.1 sound.

AudioMAX 7.1 is Dolby Master Studio certified - ABIT are the first motherboard manufacturer to gain approval, and features dual optical S/PDIF In/Out, as well as AC-3 Dolby Digital decoding for DVDs and other home cinema applications.

ABIT have confirmed our earlier speculation of a PCI backplate riser card design, necessary because there simply isn't room on the ATX backplate for on-board sound because of the Silent OTES heat exchanger - you'd have a hard time squeezing five 3.5mm jacks and two optical ports in there anyway.

The boards should be available later this month - keep an eye on your favourite reseller, and you can check out the full specification while you wait.