In this section of the review we will actually take the Abit AN8 32X motherboard and install it in a standard, very popular ATX case in order to see if any of the design decisions made by the Abit engineers will affect the installation process or accessory usage. This section was started with my Asus A8R32-MVP motherboard and received a lot of positive feedback.
The AN8 32X fit just fine in our case using the standard stand-offs and mounting screws.
Once I had installed the case cables, including those for the power switch and front panel lights, and hooked up the external USB connections, the board was already getting a bit busy. The black cable towards the bottom of the image is the audio cables that attach to the HD audio pins on the motherboard.
Before adding the video cards I routed the power cabling to the hard drive and motherboard where necessary. I also attached the IDE and SATA cables to the motherboard to see how they are position when the add-in card is included in the case.
A close up of the power routing around the processor socket, where problems likely occur, shows that the 4-pin power connector COULD cause an issue if the user isn’t careful about pulling it out of the way of the processor fan. Nothing else stands out negatively though here, so that is a good sign.
Adding in a pair of NVIDIA 7900 GTX cards really crowds up the system quick, thanks to the dual slot cooling solutions found on them. As is the case with all dual GPU configurations, be it NVIDIA or ATI-based, expansion room is greatly decreased.
In this shot you can see that the primary SATA connections off the NVIDIA MCP are hidden below the heatsinks on the secondary 7900 GTX — not a fun thing to have happen. It would be nearly impossible to remove or install another SATA connection to the board without removing at least the bottom card. If you don’t have two cards then that isn’t an issue and if you are using single slot coolers on your cards then the problem will be lessened greatly.
Our final installation image shows the two SLI video cards installed, a sound card below them and one of the USB/Firewire headers above them. That leaves a single slot on the back of the case for another header or an add-in PCIe x1 card — if you happen to have one, which most don’t.
The rear of the case tells the same story; a single slot is left open above the primary GPU. The back panel connectors are full as well with the inclusion of the Abit Silent OTES cooling heatsink at the top of the board and you can see the ventilation openings in the above image.
The installation of the AN8 32X didn’t provide any dramatic problems, though the location of the SATA connections did come into question. The DIMM slots were not interfering with the back of the primary GPU so removing the card to get to your system memory wasn’t necessary.