Overclocking is big business, and I am
happy to see ABIT has gotten back into the game. While the landscape has changed
from the days when ABIT was the best at it, and the competition is a lot more
intense, the AN8-SLI shows a lot of promise.
These days virtually every manufacturer offers dizzying
array of motherboard clock speed and memory timing adjustments, but what
separates the men from the boys are those that allow for high voltages. Asus and
Foxconn look to be on the cusp of hardcore overclocking with voltages almost high enough... but if you want to go fast, DFI
and ABIT are the only current options. Just be sure you know what you're doing,
or there is a very real danger of frying components with voltages that are too
high, and cooling solutions which are not sufficiently powerful enough.
With a retail price of $165 CDN ($138 US), the ABIT
AN8-SLI is a budget overclocker's dream. The board is quite bare compared to
today's standards; it really only has a Gigabit NIC, 7.1 channel audio
controller, IEEE 1394, a Port 80 diagnostics card... not much outside of what
the nForce 4 SLI chipset offers. Along with twin PCI Express X16 slots that
support SLI, the ABIT's Q-OTES heatpipe chipset cooling solution, and the
standard assortment of IDE and SATA ports, the AN8-SLI offers up two open PCI
slots and two PCI Express x1 slots for future expansion.
The general layout of the
motherboard is good and in typical ABIT fashion, the motherboard is very well
labelled. Hopefully ABIT has also learned its lesson with cheap electrolytic
capacitors; Rubycon and Sanyo have good reputations, but KZG we're not familiar
with. About the only thing I was surprised to see was the location of the
Auxiliary power connector. Placed under the last PCI slot, it's simply in the
worst possible location!?
I really appreciate the usefulness of the Port 80 card,
and I am happy to see that ABIT equipped its AN8-SLI with one. Enthusiasts who
use this board will have an easier time diagnosing problems thanks to that
feature. Performance of the motherboard was excellent, and the AN8-SLI will not
disappoint anyone with its blistering performance. From Doom 3 to UT2004 and
SYSmark, the ABIT AN8-SLI motherboard routinely battled things out with the Asus
A8N-SLI Premium and DFI LANParty NF4 SLI-DR for top spot.
Overclockers will love all the overclocking
options ABIT has built into this board too; 3.5V DDR RAM voltage and 1.8V NF4
voltage are some pretty nice options, would you not agree? The AN8-SLI is a fine
enthusiast calibre motherboard and will no doubt keep overclockers burning the
mid night oil trying to find their system's sweet spot.
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