The ABIT Fatal1ty AN9 32X is a full sized ATX motherboard (305 x 244 mm), and
remarkably enough is a bit on the heavy side. The layout of components on the
FATAL1TY AN9 32X is great for anyone bulding a gaming system; the main ATX power
connector and IDE channel are out of the way to the right of the DIMM slots, and
there isn't anything to get in the way of long videocards. The six Serial ATA II
channels are all placed in one patch, so cable management here is a breeze. I
particularly like that Click Connect SATA cables bundled in with the board; the
don't wiggle loose.
Documentation with the FATAL1TY AN9 32X motherboard is first rate, written in easy to understand English, and accompanied by a quick user's guide and microGuru manual. Driver diskettes are actually included with this board, and they come in handy when installing a RAID system or to SATA hard drives that Windows XP often complains of.
ABIT place two 40mm fans at the rear I/O, and these cool a large heatsink over the MOSFET VRM circuitry. The fans don't generate much noise but in reality this is overkill and takes precious important space (for more USB ports, IEEE 1394, eSATA, etc) from other more useful connectors.
The heatsink here is connected by a heatpipe to the northbridge and southbridge chipsets, which each have a small passive aluminum heatsink of their own.
Having exhaust fans at the rear I/O is really not ideal in PCSTATS experience, and considering that most motherboard manufacturers get away with smaller cooling solutions in this area that do not require additional cooling they seem unnecessary.
As a nod to fan-crazy overclockers, the ABIT
FATAL1TY AN9 32X motherboard comes bearing no less than six fan headers, two of
which are occupied from the start by the rear I/O fans. The remainder, like the
Port80 diagnostics card, offer overclockers the tools they need to finely tune the system. The Port 80 card is a wonder two-digit alpha numeric display that constantly spits out codes which indicate the operational status of the motherboard, and where failures have occurred, if they do. By referencing the standard Port80 codes it is possible to quickly troubleshoot a motherboard and solve problems that may occur if you overclock too aggressively.
On top of all this, there are seven red LEDs mounted to the surface of the ABIT FATAL1TY AN9 32X which shine brightly, and indicate the health of various power supplies around the board. I doubt anyone will really remember which LEDs relate to 5VSB, VCC, or SLI power however - so just consider them nice illuminating effects. In a darkened case with a side window they effect is pretty cool.... err... hot.
Years back ABIT eschewed the collection of standard jacks and ports at the motherboard rear I/O port area and went legacy free. Sounds nice on paper, but in real life this means there is no parallel printer port, no serial ports, and nothing other than the network, USB, and PS/2 jacks in a space that could contain quite a bit more.
ABIT relented with the FATAL1TY AN9 32X and wisely placed PS/2 keyboard and
mouse jacks back at the rear I/O, but I think we would have gladly traded the
two fans for a bunch of more useful connections.
Is FATAL1TY's brand getting any airplay?
While there's little doubt that Johnathan Fatal1ty
Wendel is an awesome gamer, does anyone really care about endorsed computer components? After all, consumers don't buy Ferrari because Michael Schumacher is a 7 time F1 champion, or Mercedes because current F1 champion Fernando Alonso drives with McLaren Mercedes now do they? Race car drivers are used for comparison because Mr. Fatal1ty compares himself to one.
Compared to the vanilla ABIT AN9 32X motherboard, you have to realize you are
paying more for a fancier motherboard with somewhat less features (okay the
regular AN9 32X comes with one additional eSATA controller), a sprinkling of red
LEDs, and a few token 'ethusiast friendly' accessories.
Fatal1ty has little if any weight in our hardware buying
choices, but it's certainly not the case that PCSTATS would avoid this board
because of his endorsement either. If the hardware performs well, it could be endorsed by Elmo for all
it matters. PCSTATS will stick to benchmark results to shape our opinion. If
you look up to great gamers like Johnathan, just remember that the computer hardware you surround yourself with doesn't only make the gamer, your skills and determination do. Up next, a quick look at some of the features that stand out on the ABIT FATAL1TY AN9 32X motherboard, then we dive right into the overclocking portion of today's review...