Date: October 25th, 2004
Article by: Nathan Glentworth
(Owner, Head Editor & Hardware Reviewer)
Product was donated by: Abit USA
<--SHOP FOR A ABIT AA8 DURAMAX 925X EXPRESS MOTHERBOARD HERE
If you follow the link at the top of the page, you will see that for
between US$150-$160 you receive the following.
In one insert you will receive a general motherboard manual,
a uGuru user's manual along with a very handy quick installation guide,
a motherboard jumper guide and the usual motherboard driver CD. If per
chance you will be setting up a SATA or a SATA RAID array, the included
floppy diskette can be inserted once you start installing windows.
Abit has never been one to come up short on helpful documentation.
Every conceivable question I came up with was quickly answered by reading
the included paperwork. Not once during the installation, setup and
testing did I have to resort to an online search for a missing information.
The second insert contained two IDE ribbon and four SATA
data cables along with the rear USB 2.0/Firewire connection panel and
the motherboard I/O shield plate. Although the hardware package was
rather well complimented, I would have liked to have seen at least two
SATA power cables included for easier installation. Some power supplies
do have native power support but in most cases, neither the harddrive
or the power supplies come with any power connections unless you buy
a retail boxed product.
Moving along to the actual motherboard, the red PCB based
AA8 is a very attractive motherboard that could easily be incorporated
into any windowed computer case. One thing that seems to jump out in
the picture is the large northbridge heatsink and the orange and green
DDR slots used to distinguish between the two DDRII memory channels.
Let's move onto the next section where we get up and personal
with ABIT's Alderwood offering.
PRODUCT PICTORIAL & WALKTHROUGH
The bottom right hand corner of the motherboard houses
the front panel connections, the main BIOS chip along with the uGuru
chip seen above the digital LED. The LED display illuminates the startup
diagnostic codes and displays all the normal startups codes every time
you boot up your system. If a boot problem occurs, you can easy take
a look at the displayed number that halted the boot process and reference
the problem with the code listing in the back of the user's manual.
This feature take a lot of the guess work out of the troubleshooting
and will point you to the exact problem that occurred or what failed
to initialize. This feature by far should be considered a "must
have" for the overclocker and tweaker.
Other than the clear CMOS jumper in the top right hand
corner of the photo, between the BIOS chip and the southbridge is the
four SATA data connections. As I have said in earlier Alderwood reviews,
update to at least one SATA drive if you want to take full advantage
of your new LGA775 based system. The harddrive is considered the slowest
component in the motherboard and using a standard ATA-133 drive will
only hinder your new system's abilities.
Now if you want to take full advantage of your new computer,
you should definitely pick up two SATA drives and take advantage of
Intel's Matrix Storage Technology.
What Matrix RAID allows you to do is install a RAID 1
(Mirror) array and a RAID 0 (stripe) array on two hard drives. Some
people might ask "Why do I want to do that?" Well, for one,
you will have the best of both worlds. You will have the data redundancy
and of a RAID 1 mirror for your operating system and important files
and also have the high performance RAID 0 stripe for your games and
whatever you want to load as fast as possible. Essentially you get the
advantages with only two SATA drives instead of four needed on a standard
SATA RAID setup.