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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [02.05.07]
Manufactured by: Abit


Audio Quality

As I mention in all my motherboard reviews, onboard audio used on most motherboards is crap. I can't put it any other way, sorry. Audio quality is getting up there, as we're about to see, but most of them simply can't perform 3D effects properly. If you play games and care about the audio experience as much as the video, you would be doing yourself a huge favour by upgrading to something based on the Creative X-Fi audio processor.

The top-of-the-line choice is the Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty. Although this is a $200 soundcard, you will get identical results from the "Extreme Music" version which is just around $100. Performance is about the same, too. After looking at these results, you can decide if $100 is a worthwhile upgrade from onboard audio.

We used an X-Fi as the input card in the RMAA tests. RMAA uses a word-based scale to describe performance. We translated these words to a scale of 1-6; 1 being "Very Poor" and 6 being "Excellent".

Abit manages to get the most out of the ALC883 that is likely possible, even beating the Foxconn board which uses the exact same codec.

Audio Performance

Using RightMark Audio 3D's CPU test, we're able to discover how much CPU resources are used by each audio solution. The higher the CPU usage, the bigger performance hit you'll see in games. The onboard solutions used on these motherboards only support up to 32 buffers, so that's as high as we can test them.

It should be noted that the codecs used on most motherboards do not perform 3D effects properly. This issue is explored by our friends over at Tech Report. Check out their report for more details on this issue.

The real surprize here is the relatively high performance of the Sensaura-powered Analog Devices ADI 1988 codec used by the Asus M2N-E. No wonder Asus switched to used AD codecs a while back!

Next Page: (Video & Audio Encoding; Compression)