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ABIT AN8-32X nForce4 SLI x16 Motherboard Review

ABIT AN8-32X nForce4 SLI x16 Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: ABIT's newest flagship Athlon64 motherboard is the ABIT AN8 32X, based upon the nForce4 SLI x16 chipset.
 82% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: ABIT Apr 04 2006   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > ABIT AN8 32x

nForce4 SLI x16 Chipset and Cooling

The nVIDIA nForce4 SLI and nForce4 SLI x16 chipsets are very close feature wise. There are a few notable differences; first the new nForce4 SLI x16 is a combination of two chipsets, an nForce4 SLI Southbridge and C51D Northbridge.

Secondly, the AMD version of the nForce4 SLI x16 supports up to 38 PCI Express lanes. That figure is effectively double that of the first generation nForce4 SLI chipset, it dished out 20 PCI Express lanes in total. Conversely, the nVidia nForce4 Intel Edition SLI x16 has 40 PCI Express lanes available to it, but in either case there are 16 PCI Express lanes dedicated to each of the two videocard slots.

This obviously means that when running two nVIDIA videocards in SLI, both will have access to the full 16 PCI Express lanes their little silicon hearts desire. Cutting through the PR hype for a moment, this really doesn't make much of a difference right now, but... future videocards that require more PCI Express bandwidth will not be held up as happened with the original nForce4 SLI.

The rest of the nVIDIA nForce4 SLI x16 features remain the same as with the original chipset. The core logic supports four IDE devices, four Serial ATA II devices with RAID modes 0, 1, 0+1 and RAID 5, a hardware firewall as well as a direct connection to the Southbridge for the Gigabit network card.

ABIT Outside Thermal Exhaust System:

The nForce4 SLI x16 chipsets generates a fair amount of heat, and while fans are nice for keeping thing cool they make noise. Noise is bad, baaad! If there was ever a bandwagon to jump in, it is the "heatpipe cooled core logic chipset bandwagong." ABIT is no different, and the ABIT AN8 32x utilizes the ABIT OTES cooling system which is essentially a long heatpipe that dumps the heat from the nVidia chipset at the rear of the computer on a special MOSFET heatsink.

The nForce4 SLI southbridge comes in contact with a heatpipe that snakes over the surface towards the power MOSFETs just behind the CPU socket. Things are topped off with an aluminum heatsink, without a fan. The heatpipe moves the heat to the larger heatsink next to the processor cooler which works with system airflow so there is no extra noise added.

Experts Tip: Quiet down that CPU fan

Users who demand quiet performance have a lot of control over things with the ABIT AN8 32X motherboard. In the MicroGuru options, go to ABIT EQ and from there down to the CPU FanEQ Control. In that section, you can adjust the temperatures at when the fan reacts (high/low temp settings) as well as the voltage that the fan receives. This allows users to fine tune the speed of the fan on the processor heatsink which can allow for a much quieter system.

Comments and Feedback? Suggest a Tweak.

If you're using a board like this, it is very important to ensure that fan-based CPU heatsinks are used. If the fans are removed from the system because you've adopted a watercooling rig, the principles this cooling system is based upon may not hold up, and overheating may result.

The nVidia C51D Northbridge is cooled a medium sized aluminum heatsink and does not come in contact with the heatpipe. It is also designed to be cooled with the system airflow and enthusiasts are advised to have good airflow in their case if they want to use the ABIT AN8 32X or any nForce4 x16 motherboard.

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Contents of Article: ABIT AN8 32x
 Pg 1.  ABIT AN8-32X nForce4 SLI x16 Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  ABIT AN8-32X and Onboard RAID
 Pg 3.  — nForce4 SLI x16 Chipset and Cooling
 Pg 4.  Overclocking Tests, Trials, Triumph?
 Pg 5.  Inside the AN8-32x's BIOS
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: SYSMark 2004
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: Winstone 2004, Sandra 2005
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: SuperPi, PCMark 05
 Pg 9.  Benchmarks: 3DMark05, X2 The Threat
 Pg 10.  Benchmarks: UT2004, Doom 3
 Pg 11.  Final Word on the ABIT AN8 32X

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