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


Abit AA8 DuraMAX

Being one of the first to bring a 925x board to the retail channel, Abit wasn't immune to the problems Intel had with their southbridge chips. However the problem has been fixed, and Abit added a sticker to assure buyers that they are no longer prone to the problems (can you spot it?).

The board uses the familiar "reddish-orange" colour as most Abit boards. The chipset heatsinks share a common design, with a fan mounted vertically on the Northbridge. Since this is the only 925x board I have seen with a fan installed, I think they might have been able to go with a fanless heatsink instead. Overall, this is a quite nice looking board, although I am not a big fan of the single pair of green dimm slots.

Abit is one of the three boards that opted for a pair of PCI slots to go with three PCI-E 1x slots. I'm not sure if this is a good idea, since there are a lot more PCI devices being used right now than PCI-E (I have yet to see a single 1x PCI-E device as of yet). Also note the placement of USB and FireWire expansion ports. Not exactly the best place to put them. Abit does a good job by moving the floppy port down and out of the way however; it's not going to be used much after initial installation of WindowsXP (if using RAID).

As with most of Abit's high end boards, there is a diagnostic LED available if you're having boot problems. The front panel header (for power LED, reset button, etc) is not colour-coded. The header you see next to the front panel header is for an external uGuru clock Abit will have available soon. Abit used a thumb-jumper for the cmos reset header - a nice touch for sure! I am looking forward to the day when a board manufacturer decides to use a toggle switch for a cmos reset switch ;)

Abit was able to tuck the 4 pin P4 header out of the way, which I really like. It is WAY out there, which might make installation more difficult, but once you get it in there, the cable will be out of site for sure.

Gone are the days of the wonderful Abit MAX board. Outdated serial ports take up a lot of space, allowing for only four USB ports. However, Abit did find room for a pair of optical ports, which is great. The AA8 features a single Gigabit Ethernet port, but Abit opted to use a Realtek controller than runs on the PCI bus, rather than the PCI-E bus. GigaE is capable of using more bandwidth than the PCI bus can provide, so a PCI-E solution would have been preferred.

The AA8 DuraMAX is the only board we've found in stores so far, so I am pleased to tell you that you can find it for as low as $154 at Many stores carry it though, such as ZipZoomFly for $157, and of course NewEgg for $160. Prices are reflective of publication date only, so you'll want to check out the stores for the lowest price.

And that about does it for the external view of this board. As usual, Abit opts for a no-frills-no-gimmicks product. They decided to engineer the most tweakable board possible however, and it should stand out in terms of performance.

Next Page: (Board Overview - DFI Lanparty 925x-T2)