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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [12.23.04]
Manufactured by: Abit
Athlon64 3000+ CPU provided by Newegg.com

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Board Layout

Let's take a tour of the Abit AV8. First stop; the top corner!

Unlike most boards, the ATX 2x10 and 2x2 connectors are both found near the top of the board, together. This makes cable routing cleaner than ever, as you'll be able to zip-tie the two together. On top of that, the placement is great, although you'll have to take care not to block the air intake of the PSU.

Because of the 2x10 header placement, Abit was able to relocate the floppy connector back to the side edge of the board, instead of at the bottom where they have been placing it lately. I really like it at the top portion of the board, as it makes it much easier to keep the floppy cable out of the way (and whether you like it or not, you'll probably need to use a floppy drive at one time or another, even today). DIMM placement in relation to the AGP slot is sketchy; with a video card installed, memory installation is going to be tight. Not as bad as previous boards, but not as good as some others we've seen lately.

And here's the first strike against the AV8's layout; two USB2.0 headers placed right next to PCI slots. With two or three PCI cards installed, routing internal USB2.0 cables is going to be a pain. If anything, I wish they would have traded places with the less often used FireWire headers, which are placed well.

Abit was one of the first, if not the first to utilize angled IDE ports on their consumer boards. I really like this method, as it helps keep bulky IDE cables from sticking out into the case.

Unfortunately, Abit's Front Panel header is not very well labeled, and is not color coded at all. In fact, I had to refer to the manual to install the front panel connections; something I don't have to do with boards from Gigabyte and DFI. Abit needs to catch up in this regard.

One area where they do excel is the numeric diagnostic LED. This makes looking up error codes much more intuitive than recognizing beeps and light combinations. It came in handy troubleshooting the board when I first installed the 3000+, which is based on a 90nm manufacturing process that predated the BIOS on the board and was thus incompatible.

Abit decided to use TOSLINK connectors for their digital in and output. Quality wise, this is no different than using Coaxial cables, but I prefer coax because it's more convenient. Cheaper too, because you can use any Coaxial video cable, as they are both to the same specification!

Having four USB2.0 ports on the back is a minimum requirement in my opinion, so it's good to see here. Dual GigaE LAN is not to be found on the AV8. FireWire is provided, however.

Abit is famous for their awesome CMOS features, so let's check that out!

Next Page: (CMOS Review)