abit AB9-Pro Review (Page 3 of 8)

Page 3 - Board Layout

One of the most important aspects of any motherboard besides performance covers its board layout. This is essential as it has a direct influence on how well the user is going to pull cables around the case; as well as how convenient and appropriate each slot is located.

A view of the whole motherboard. Gone are the days of a overly typical green PCB in which no one has seen for quite a while now. As apparent how green PCBs are almost as exciting as beige cases, over the last few years, even motherboards themselves comes in various colors. The abit AB9-Pro is no exception; the orange PCB combined with a case with window will give you some uniqueness to your computer internals, depending on your tastes. There aren't many motherboards with an orange PCB, so it gives abit's AB9-Pro a sense of partial uniqueness.

abit's Silent OTES heatpipe cooling dissipates the heat away from the chipset where it will be removed from your case at the back panel I/O. Capacitors surrounding the LGA775 socket seems to be well placed enough to not get in the way with relatively larger heatsinks.

Located near the bottom right corner are six SATA2 ports powered by Intel ICH8R chipset (With Intel Matrix Storage Tech - AHCI & RAID 0/1/5/10). Located just below it is a digital display for displaying different digits or numbers representing different things -- for example, a '99' indicates a complete power cycle. It is also used for displaying different error messages that you can look up in the manual; it can become very useful for pinpointing problems (To an extent) if you are wondering why your computer will not start up.

As you can see in our photo above, RAM slots are color coded for your convenience. Even without checking the manual, it is easy to figure out a dual channel setup -- simply insert one of each module into a orange slot or into the green slots if it's your second set (Since channel A must equal channel B in capacity).

The 24-pin power connector is located at the right edge near the top as a relatively standard placement on ATX motherboards.

Placement of expansion slots. The standard placement of PCIe x16 single slot is at the top; followed by two PCIe x1 and two PCI slots.

One of the biggest complaints of this board (At least from me) is placement of IDE connectors. The Ultra DMA 100/66/33 IDE connector is located right above the first PCI slot, so how you are going wiring your computer with thick IDE cables will pose quite a challenge. The floppy port is located under the second PCI slot; which is not as poorly placed, but still could and should be placed elsewhere.

Another thing is the Molex connector (Designed to supply extra power to the expansion slots) located above the PCIe x16 slot. Although it is possible to share a connector with a nearby fan in your computer case, it would be more desirable if it was placed along the higher right edges of the board like the Asus P5W64-WS Professional.

Two JMicron JMB363 powered SATA2 ports are located above the IDE connector, and a single Silicon Image 3132 SATA2 port is located above the Molex connector as mentioned earlier. All three SATA2 ports support JBOD RAID function.

Rear I/O connectors. Again, all standard placements, except the presence of legacy ports such as parallel and cereal ports are missing. That's why there's no breakfast this morning.

Anyway, no serial port, I meant! An eSATA port powered by Silicon Image 3132 resides near the edge while the rest of the room allows air ventilation through a series of vents on the motherboard backplate for abit's Silent OTES passive chipset cooling.

Besides the two ethernet connectors as once seen on high end enthusiast boards now seen on a mainstream product, there's quite a load of features in terms of onboard sound. An S/PDIF input and S/PDIF out connector is present in addition to the multiple analog in/outs totaling of six 3.5mm jacks.

Page Index
1. Introduction
2. Features, Packaging, Accessories
3. Board Layout
4. The uGuru Panel
5. Test System; Benchmarks: PCMark05, 3DMark06
6. Benchmarks: EVEREST Ultimate Edition 3.50.799
7. Benchmarks: Cinebench 9.5, HDTachRW
8. Onboard Sound, Overclocking, Conclusion