Conclusions and Final Thoughts
Now let’s summarize all the data we looked at and incorporate a my thoughts on these platforms.
The performance of the Abit motherboard is right on with what we expect to for NVIDIA nForce based motherboards. It didn’t really stand out anywhere either negatively or positively which can be assumed to be a good thing. Pairing these boards with the identical processors, GPUs and memories showed that performance between AMD motherboards and platforms is nearly the same in almost all cases.
Our look at the motherboard BIOS showed a lot of features for overclocking including voltage regulation, multiplier adjustment and fan speed customization. Since Abit pioneered the overclocking bios from day one it makes sense that they would have a quality showing here. Our overclocking results are pretty good but did not come close to knocking off the leader and HyperTransport bus overclocking, the A8R32-MVP using the ATI Xpress 3200 chipset. Getting a 278 MHz HTT bus is still pretty good though and should provide enough flexibility for most enthusiasts looking to overclock their system.
This motherboard has all the features any enthusiast could want including enough USB FireWire and SATA connections for just about anyone. The onboard audio definitely underperforms so I would recommend looking for an external sound card at any cost. Even the $30 Diamond Xtreme sound card in our budget hardware leaderboard would do the job better. The AN8 32X only has a single Ethernet port though for most people that shouldn’t be a problem.
The board does feature silent cooling which is a big plus for anyone worried about noise and the heat pipe technology also kept the components cool. SLI is a big plus for anyone looking at gaming seriously and doesn’t mind spending a lot of money on graphics cards.
Pricing and Availability
The Abit AN8 32X is easy to find online and ranges in prices from $180 to $200 depending on your vendor of choice. That price is slightly higher than some other nForce4 SLI motherboards, though for an X16 version is actually kind of cheap. The Asus X16 model ranges in price from $200-$250. Overall this board offers a pretty good value for the money.
One point of contention from NVIDIA for their SLI technology is that it offers a much better complete platform solution then ATI’s CrossFire. Their argument is that in general SLI is a much better option for the end-user; you have more motherboard choices, more graphics card choices, easier installation and better software support. It is hard to argue against this point as SLI has at least an 18 month advantage in development time allowing NVIDIA’s engineers and software developers time to perfect and tweak the software to their liking. ATI has been playing catch-up with Crossfire since day one and they are still behind, and with NVIDIA’s upcoming Quad-SLI releases it looks like ATI may fall even further back in the race.
The Abit AN8 32X is only one of the few SLI X16 motherboards available on the market. It is the lowest cost but also offers a lot of features and overclocking options that will help it appeal to a larger range of users. Though the adoption of the X16 chipset has been slow this Abit model looks to be a great option for users who have an existing 939-pin processor system and want to upgrade their graphics and/or platform but do not want to wait for the upcoming AM2 launch.
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