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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [08.30.04]
Manufactured by: Abit, DFI, Foxconn, Gigabyte

 

Been a Long Time Coming

It has been over 70 days since we first reviewed the 925x platform from Intel. This new platform marks one of the biggest leaps in technologies for Intel; they changed not only the chipset itself, but introduced several key technologies that will replace what you most likely have in your system now. If you're not familiar with all of this, I recommend you read our first report on the subject.

For the rest of you, you may have been wondering where all the boards have been. In over 2 months, only a handful of boards are appearing in stores. Well you may recall the problems Intel had with the ICH6/6R chipsets, forcing them to recall chips. This is what caused most of the delay. I was expecting to see all the boards right away, since most manufacturers were showing off what looked like fully working 925 and 915 boards at Computex, weeks before Intel officially announced them! And if you look closely, you'll see some 925 boards being manufactured right before your eyes in our Gigabyte Factory Tour.

However, besides Intel, Foxconn was the only manufacturer that was able to supply us with a board right away. This is no surprize to me, since they are the ones making Intel boards for them.

Abit was one of the first manufacturers to introduce their 925x board, the AA8 DuraMAX; it is readily available in stores now.

A couple weeks after that, we received our board from Gigabyte. As part of their new "8 Sigma" series, the GA-8ANXP-D is high-end through and through.

Last week I finally collected enough boards to make this a viable "shootout" article (you gotta have at least four boards, right?). It's a doozy too - the newest Lanparty from DFI! The Lanparty 925x-T2 has all the features you'd expect from a Lanparty board, and more.

So what we have for you are 4 boards; 3 of which you'll probably want to focus on the most if you are into getting the most complete packages available in terms of software, cmos, and accessories.

First, we have to talk about wha the boards have in common. They all:

  • Are based on the LGA-775 platform
  • Support DDR2 ram
  • Have a single PCI-E x16 video adapter
  • Use a combination of PCI-E 1x slots and PCI slots
  • Use the new 2x12 ATX port and a 2x2 P4 port
  • Have a single IDE port, supporting up to two devices
  • Use the ICH6/R southbridge, with support for SATA Matrix RAID
  • Have a single floppy port
  • Use the same audio chipset (Intel High Definition)

And that's pretty much where the similarities end; these are all based around the basic design of the 925x platform. However that still leaves a LOT of room for modification by the manufacturers, and as you'll soon see, these boards actually differ by quite a bit.

A Word on Sound

I mentioned that all of these boards use Intel's new 8 channel "High Definition" sound spec. Well we put this to the test back when we reviewed a Philips Ultimate Edge soundcard. My conclusion is this: While the sound spec is certainly a nice step forward for integrated audio, it is a long way from matching the capabilities of high end sound cards. If you care at all about sound performance and audio quality, you are going to want to upgrade. Check out our last soundcard review for more details.

This is going to be a huge shootout, so I am going to split it into parts: Board layout and accessories, CMOS features, Software bundle, and finally Performance.

Next Page: (Board Overview - Abit AA8)