Abit AB9 Pro 965P Motherboard Review
Layout and Features
As most system builders have learned through experience, board component layout can be very key to producing a clean system build. One power connector out of place can create a mini wire routing puzzle game. Let's take a look at the AB9 Pro's layout.
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The overall layout of the AB9 Pro layout is very clean. The only obvious shortcomings are the one PCIe x16 graphic slot (this rules out any future crossfire support for the AB9 Pro) and the odd placement of the floppy and Ide connectors.
The LGA775 processor socket is surrounded by some small solid state capacitors as well as the Abit Silent OTES Chipset cooler. The heatsink covering the Intel P965 chipset passes heat off through a small heatpipe that leads to cooling fins near the external rear connectors. While it is nice to not have to worry about a chipset fan failing, the board needs a fairly well ventilated case for this cooling system to be effective during heavy overclocking.
The four DDR2 DIMM slots to the right of the processor socket are well spaced and present an easy memory setup. However if you use a large heatsink and fan combination you may find the first RAM slot partially obstructed by the heatsink making RAM removal difficult. The above image shows that there is plenty of room, but as we will see in the Installation section later in this article, very large heatsinks may cause some problems. The RAM slot clips also come very close to the graphics adapter, so strong caution is urged when seating or unseating ram with the graphics card installed. The power connection is placed on the far edge of the board. This makes the main power connection routing fairly easy, even if you're using a power supply that features a short cord.
Looking at the expansion configuration on the Abit AB9 Pro, the first thing you note is the one physical PCIe x16 connector for a graphics card. While initially the P965 chipset was not slated to support ATI Crossfire, some manufactures were able to include support the ATI dual graphics design and obviously the AB9 Pro isn't one of these. It would have been nice to see an additional graphics slot included here.
There are two legacy PCI slots and 2 x PCI-E X1 slots as well. If you install a graphics card with a dual slot cooler, you will be taking up one of the PCI-E X1 slots below the PCIe x16 slot. Since the market has been slow to develop PCI-E X1 expansion cards, this shouldn't be an issue.
By the expansion slots you can see the header for front panel audio (in green), three USB 2.0 headers (in blue) and the two additional FireWire headers (in red).
Looking at the storage section on the AB9 Pro, you can see there are a total of six SATA connections, all of them from the ICH8R south bridge. The only IDE connection (located above the second PCI slot) is provided by the JMicron JMB363 controller chip. The two SATA ports above the IDE connector are also powered by the JMicron controller. Also included are two SATA ports by Silicon Image 3132 controller, one internal and one external eSATA port.
Here is what lines the back of your system if you chose to install the AB9 Pro in it. Abit is one of the first manufactures to remove legacy ports from their enthusiast level Boards. That trend continues with the AB9 Pro. There are standard PS2 ports but gone are the legacy serial ports. There are audio connections providing 8 channel analog audio and an optical digital audio connection as well. The red connection is for the integrated eSATA port. There are two Gigabit Ethernet connections. Also included are four rear USB 2.0 ports.
The Abit AB9 Pro accessories included everything needed to get you up and running. First, you get all the manuals and drivers you would expect, as well as nine SATA cables which should cover just about all of your SATA needs. They also have a single IDE and floppy cable for the legacy devices included. Abit includes an add-in bracket that features both firewire and USB 2.0 ports. Finally, the silver plate is the back panel for your case.