Abit AN8 32X nForce4 SLI X16 Motherboard Review
Layout and Features
The Abit AN8 32X has a good layout with some good features, though you aren't going to see anything like the previous 'legacy-free' boards that removed anything but USB connections from the board.
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At first glance of the AN8 32X, the motherboard shows a fairly standard layout, without any fans or hyper-colored PCI slots.
The first feature that jumped out at me was the heatsink to the left hand side of the processor socket with the Silent OTES plate adhered to the top of it. Part of the chipset and board cooling system, this heatsink hides an array of MOSFETs under it and is connected to the other heatsinks through a heatpipe. The face plate for your case that comes with this board provides vents along it in this area for air to easily move over the heatsinks and out of the case.
Taking an overhead look at the processor socket we can see that the 939-pin processor is placed between a pair of blue heatsinks that cover MOSFETs and the NVIDIA north bridge. The capacitors around the socket are low enough for the cooling schemes we used here including a couple of heatsinks and the Koolance EXOS liquid cooling system.
The four DIMM slots are color coded so that you are to fill all of one color first, then move on to the second color in order to achieve dual channel memory. The DIMM retention clips do NOT interfere with the PCIe graphics cards so you can install and remove modules without removing your video card and the ATX power and CPU socket connections are spaced well away for adequate working room.
The ATX power connector shown here has one small issue of layout that concerns me — the tiny fan header behind it is nearly impossible to get at even without an ATX power connection installed! The problem is even more annoying once you plug in the board.
To the left of the processor socket on the board you'll find two red SATA connections provided by the Silicon Image chip. These are oddly located at the top of the motherboard, but should allow even shorter SATA cables to reach the tops of taller cases should you install a hard drive up there or have one of the rare SATA DVD drives. You could route one of them to the back of the case to for external hot-swap storage.