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Reviewed by: Ed Lau [08.23.04]
Manufacturers: Abit, Albatron, Asus

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Abit KV8 Pro

This board takes the prize for the best packaging. Abit must've taken a page out of IKEA with this new box. When you open it, you'll notice two separate boxes inside. The left one contains all your manuals and CDs while the right one contains a nifty set of black rounded cables, a pair of SATA cables, a molex-to-SATA power adapter and a A64 heatsink mount which for some reason does not come pre-mounted like every other manufacturer. It seems a little strange to me that they'd want us to do MORE work. Carl tells me it allows for quicker packaging (he spotted them being installed while touring the Gigabyte motherboard manufacturing line) but that just tells me Abit is cutting corners even though they've come out with easily the neatest packaging EVER.

Abit's selling point on the KV8 Pro is their uGuru system which is something Jesus himself would want on his kickass gaming rig.

This is not our first experience with Abit's strangely named technology so I won't be going too far into it. Basically, it's an entire suite of programs for power users to tweak every single thing about the board. Voltage, overclocking, fan speeds, audio - you name it. It could probably cook dinner for you if you attached it to your kitchen stove.

The best thing about uGuru is that it does all the changes in real time so as soon as you click the Apply button, the changes go into effect. No more rebooting to see if your settings POST and if you screw up, just go back and redo it!

Also, uGuru allows you to very easily flash your BIOS which is often complicated and scares most people away. The BIOS flashing utility is something similar to LiveUpdate from Symantec for Norton. Just click update and the program will check for the latest version and install it if necessary. Hardcore features with soft porn - er, core - ease.

Now this isn't to say the KV8 Pro isn't without flaws because it has a few. While the great box and the uGuru suite feel very luxury, the board itself is very plain Jane despite it's bright red PCB. Whereas the Albatron board has so much stuff included, the K8V Pro includes just about nothing. It's like comparing filet mignon to Mac 'n Cheese - and not even real cheese. We're talking "cheeze".

The first thing you'll notice is that there are only two RAM slots making for a maximum of 2GB of RAM. While 2GB is still plenty for just about everyone, remember that Bill said the same about 640k years ago. 2GB will be eclipsed quite soon as you see games like Doom 3 and FarCry utilize 2GB at their highest quality display modes. While there's little we can do able that, we know the VIA chipset can handle more so why not put in that extra RAM slot? We know it can be done!

There is ample clearance between the RAM slots and a AGP card. Roughly an inch so it's unlikely that you'll have to remove your graphics card to replace the RAM.

Overall, the Abit is going for the 'no frills hardcore overclocker' with this board. It is priced the lowest out of all three boards. We'll get to the overclocking part in a bit.

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