Well, what can we say about this latest offering from ABIT? Initial impressions can often be misleading. When I first started using the board, I was highly disappointed. I got random reboots for no apparent reason, and worked several hours to find that the DDR slots 1 and 2 were buggy. Once we switched the ram to 3 and 4, all was fine. Problem one solved! Well, solved for the purpose of benchmarking at least, as slots 1 and 2 were still unusable. So, I was able to run all the tests and then move on to the overclocking portion of the review. Once again, great disappointment set in when I reached a wall at HTT 280. And once again, much time was spent to find out that the wall did exist. ABIT was contacted about the issue, and a couple days later we had another bios in hand that not only fixed the 280 wall, and allowed our Opteron processor to reach its full potential, but the bios also seemed to fix the issues we were having with the buggy memory slots (though I still think that slots 3 and 4 are more stable). So, our initial impressions had to be thrown out, and we were able to get a fresh look at the board, and were we glad!
This board is a fantastic offer from ABIT. Though we had the issues that we did, ABIT came through and fixed them, and once again, I would like to congratulate ABIT for staying in contact with us, listening to our concerns, and then giving us a viable solution to the problem.
This board was able to compete with what is considered the best overclocking board out there, in the DFI Expert. At stock settings, there is little to no difference between the boards. So, what about overclocking? I was able to match the best that the Opteron 146 has been able to do on the Expert board in total speed of the processor. The ABIT at an HTT of 325 was not quite as high as we were able to reach on the DFI, which did 350+ HTT with total stability. I think the thing that makes the difference in total HTT speed is that the ABIT has no control over the chipset voltage while the DFI does (and we did have to raise the chipset voltage to get he HTT over 350 on the DFI). ABIT may be reluctant to produce a bios that has that chipset voltage control due to the fanless heatpipe design. But any enthusiast that will run this board will mod the board for extra cooling that would take care of any heat issues that might be produced by raising the chipset voltage. We will certainly be in contact with ABIT again about this, and will post an update to this review if they do indeed come through with a new bios that includes this option.
For me personally, it is good to see ABIT producing a board that competes with the the top performing boards. As mentioned, the competeing is not in the stock settings, but in price, the included bundle, and in the arena of overclocking. I am hoping that ABIT will continue to push forward, and with their new financial backing, be a leader in innovation and in giving the enthusiast what he wants. You will not be a disappointed customer if you decide to open a box from your favorite retailer that includes a shiny new ABIT AN832X!
The Legit Bottom Line
At around $190, this board by ABIT is designed to compete with the likes of the DFI Expert and the ASUS AN832-SLI Deluexe. All three are at the same price point. If you are going to run it at default settings, then you might as well flip a coin between any NF4 board, as most NF4 boards we have tested offer very similiar performance at stock. If you are an overclocker, the ABIT is no slouch, and comes very close to the top overclocking performance of the DFI. ABIT would likely have a little better success getting those looking to buy a DFI board to jump ship and look at this board if they would price it just a little lower.