Computex 2006 - Motherboards and Video Cards
Introduction and Abit
Every year for the past five, I have made an annual pilgrimmage of sorts over the Pacific Ocean to Taipei, Taiwan. For those of you that don't know, the majority of the products we cover and write about are designed, manufacturered and supported by companies based in Taiwan. Computex is a large expo for these companies and more spread between four main halls and several satellite buildings held every June.
Wandering these halls we meet up with representatives from nearly every company you've heard of, and then some, to get the latest news on their upcoming products and anything else that happens to fall in our lap. So far, I have already extensively looked at the notebook market seen at Computex as well as the changes in cases, cooling and power supplies that are due up for this year and next. In this article, I'll go over what was on display from the motherboard vendors and ask the question "is there anything worth getting excited about?"
Abit has been struggling in recent years, mainly due to some financial issues that have cropped up. Abit was at Computex this year to tell everyone the troubles were behind them since the buyout and that the Abit name is alive and well, with some great products to back it up.
First on display is the AN9 32X motherboard for the AM2 platform sporting the nForce 590 SLI chipset. The board has an eSATA connection and seven other SATA connections for a lot of connectivity as well as Dolby Digial Live! certification (as does most of the new Abit line of boards).
The Abit AW9D motherboard uses the 975X chipset to support the upcoming Core 2 Duo processors and will be Abit's high end motherboards for Intel's new platform. It supports CrossFire with two x8 PCIe connections and 7.1 channel audio as well.
The MAX line of motherboards will be for the ubber-overclocker according to Abit, and this AW9D-MAX is the first in that series from the revived company. It still uses the 975X chipset and has all the same feature sets, but will utilize better cooling and tweaking options for some extreme enthusiasts.
The AT9 32X uses the ATI XPress 3200 chipset for full X16 CrossFire support. It uses the AM2 socket as well and is aimed at the mainstream enthusiast.
The Fatal1ty line of products is still alive, with this first offering for the AMD AM2 platform, the Falat1ty AN9 32X based on the nForce 590 SLI chipset.
The Fatal1ty brand also rests on the FP-A9D motherboard based on the 975X chipset. It will support the Core 2 Duo processors, so this might end up being one of the best boards for gaming we'll soon see, as it has CrossFire support as well.
This interesting motherboard is based on the NF4 Ultra chipset, but if you look closely, that is an AMD AM2 processor socket on the board! Though NVIDIA is apparently not pleased with this display, Abit was showcasing that the NF4 chipset is easily ready for the AM2 platform and moving to the NF500 series isn't required.
This SFF motherboard is pretty interesting; based off of the Intel 945GT chipset, this 479-pin processor socket board currently works with Core Duo and Solo processors. Support for Core 2 Duo Merom CPUs should be pretty easy to do, as well. Even more interesting is the HDMI output connector on the board that supports 1080p output resolutions!
You can see on the board's back panel that both a VGA and HDMI output connector are useable, as are the range of digital and analog audio outputs. This board might be a fantastic HTPC option; we'll let you know when we get one!
Finally, Abit had some of the world's first pure digital speakers on display -- these take a SPDIF input directly from the computer or other source without a need for DAC on both ends of the connection.
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