On to the Technology
Computex 2004 proved to be a very busy show for all of the manufacturers on hand at the FiringSquad Invitational. With AMD’s Socket 939 launch merely hours old, and Intel’s Alderwood and Grantsdale launches right around the corner, motherboard manufacturers had their hands full keeping up with products based on both platforms. Things were just as busy on the graphics front also, as ATI had just announced their PCI Express-based X300 and X600, while the GeForce 6800 and X800 launches were still fresh on everyone’s mind.
The rules of the invitational were simple, manufacturers were to provide two systems: one high-end rig would be submitted into the contest, while the second PC was to be used solely in the Battlefield Vietnam gaming tournament we were conducting. The high-end rig would also be used in the Battlefield Vietnam tournament, as each manufacturer would be competing with two-man teams.
The manufacturers were competing for one of six awards: Best Portable Design, Highest Overclock, Best CPU/Motherboard Performance, Best Graphics Performance, Best Visual Design, Best Low Noise Design, and finally, the Ultimate Gaming Rig. Lets look at the submissions:
As the first manufacturer to implement jumperless technology into their motherboards, motherboard manufacturer extraordinaire ABIT have always geared their products towards the enthusiast/overclocking community. Since then ABIT has spearheaded other efforts: their “RAID for everyone” initiative was responsible for making IDE RAID a standard feature on most motherboards, and is so popular it’s been added to the latest chipsets from Intel, NVIDIA, and VIA, while their legacy free MAX motherboards have earned rave reviews, including a few Editor’s Choice awards from this website. Last year we saw “The Rise of Cooling”, emphasizing ABIT’s focus on providing enhanced cooling for the motherboard’s power circuitry. A year later we see the importance of cooling, as Prescott’s thermal requirements are staggering. ABIT was also the first manufacturer to aggressively integrate Japanese capacitors into their products.
With all this as a backdrop, we were eager to see what ABIT put together for their Invitational submission. ABIT started things off with Lian Li’s PC-V1200 aluminum case. Because of this, ABIT’s system really stood out from the others both visually and physically – you could literally roll it anywhere you wanted! ABIT chose AMD’s Athlon 64 platform for their gaming rig submission so their K8T800-based KV8-MAX3 was the natural choice for the motherboard. The KV8-MAX3 features ABIT’s OTES technology for cooling the motherboard’s power circuitry and microGuru for overclocking/hardware monitoring. The board also supports six-channel Serial ATA RAID and Gigabit LAN. Paired alongside the KV8-MAX3 was AMD’s Athlon 64 3200+ CPU.
ABIT KV8-MAX3 Pentium 4 motherboard
ABIT Radeon 9800XT graphics accelerator
ABIT equipped their system with 1GB of DDR400 SDRAM and their R9800XT RADEON 9800 XT graphics card. We reviewed this graphics card when it first came out and found it to be a solid solution with all the quality you’d expect from a Built By ATI card.