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ABIT AA8 DuraMAX Mainboard on Intel 925X

The board tops the Intel-oriented line for the moment and has corresponding package and functionality. Curiously, not being able to announce this model before the official announcement of the i925X chipset, ABIT still managed to release a solution for Socket 775, using an old but quite productive i865 chipset.

The layout is very good: a great number of field transistors is used for the power regulator, the IDE connector is laid to its side, and there is no row of connectors along the lower edge. The only disadvantage is the FDD connector allocated in such a way that its cable may be too short to reach for the floppy drive in a tall case. But then again, there aren't many people who're using this drive now, are there? The space that is freed due to the use of small-size PCIEx1 slots is definitely good for the layout. Access to some of the jumpers can be hampered when the board is installed into the case. The PCB contains no brief description of the jumpers' funtionality. The board features a POST pass indicator made as two semi-segment LEDs. The four-channel CPU voltage regulator has 12 capacitors (7 x 2200 µF, 5 x 1200 µF). The PCIEx16 bus and the memory have their voltage regulators too. The former includes 4x1000µF capacitors and is enhanced with inductive elements. The latter incorporates 6x1000µF capacitators and has inductive elements as well. With the fan installed vertically on the north bridge heatsink, ABIT seems to start implementing some BTX form factor ideas concerning the regulation of air flows inside the case.

It's not completely clear what made ABIT not solder a laid out connector via which additional +12 V could be supplied from the PSU. Maybe the company's experts are sure that each user has a new PSU with a 24-contact base cable for their board. But we think it would be much better for customers if 4-pin connectors would have been soldered. As for the rest, AA8 DuraMAX makes an impression of an excellent complete product. The board measures 305245 mm (full-size ATX, nine-screw mount, firm fixation). A Winbond W83L950D chip is used to control:

Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors

Back panel (left to right, blockwise)

It seems that the era of audio connectors is beginning, as the latter comprise almost half of all connectors placed on the back panel.

Bundle

Integrated controllers

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16 bits, 44 kHz, using the RightMark Audio Analyzer 5.2 test program and the Terratec DMX 6fire sound card:

Frequency response (40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.14, -0.17 Very good
Noise level, dB (A): -88.6 Good
Dynamic range, dB (A): 88.7 Good
THD, %: 0.0031 Very good
IMD, %: 0.010 Very good
Steero crosstalk, dB: -91.5 Excellent

Total: Very good (details).

Proprietary technologies

Settings

Jumpers and switches Clear CMOS jumper  
Set of jumpers to enable/disable system boot from USB keyboard  
BIOS, AwardBIOS version 6.00PG by Phoenix Memory timings +CAS Latency, Act. To Precharge Delay, RAS to CAS Delay, RAS Precharge Time
Memory frequency selection + Auto, DDR2-400, DDR2-533 (at FSB = 800 MHz)
PCI Express bus setup + 
PCI bus setup - 
PCI frequency divider setup + PCI = 33.33, 36.36, 40 MHz
PCI IRQ manual assignment + 
FSB frequency setup + 100—300 MHz at 1MHz increments
CPU multiplier +x8—x50
CPU core voltage control + Auto, 1.575—1.925 V at 0.025V increments
Memory voltage control + Auto, 1.8—2.25 V at 0.05V increments
Chipset voltage control + 1.5—2.05 V at 0.05V increments

We used BIOS AA8_13.b00, the latest available version for the moment of testing. The mentioned BIOS parameters are available in the version, but the viability of non-standard settings hasn't been tested.

Performance

We have only tested one i925X-based board, so we have no information on whether its performance it typical of this chipset-based representatives.

Test results:


Reviewed by iXBT.com
Dmitry Mayorov (destrax@ixbt.com)
29.06.2004
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