abit AW9D-MAX i975 Express Motherboard ReviewMon, Dec 18, 2006 - 12:00 PM
Final Thoughts and Conclusions
The abit AW9D-MAX motherboard is one of the best Intel 965P/975X motherboard that I have used to date. It’s actually refreshing using a motherboard like the abit AW9D-MAX because everything just works out of the box. The NVIDIA 680i chipset has gotten a ton of attention in recent weeks, but at the same time it launched with numerous bugs that are just now starting to be taken care of via BIOS updates. The Intel 975 Express chipset has been on the market for over a year and has 99% of the bugs worked out, which is nice for those of us that want to set up their system with a stable overclock and be done.
With that said I did experience several BIOS related issues on the abit AW9D-MAX that caused some concern. On the test bench I tried using the PC Power & Cooling 1KW power supply only to have the system not be able to boot to windows (post code 82 was shown). I also was unable to get my Quad-Core Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 processor working as it wasn’t supported in the public version of the BIOS. Notice I said the word public. On the abit-USA website the latest BIOS for the AW9D-MAX is dated 9/15/2006, which is sad considering I have a beta BIOS dated just two weeks ago that fixes all the above issues. I asked abit why these updated BIOS versions aren’t made public and this is what they said: ‘We will be making them available when the time is right’. I’m not joking, that is a copy/paste quote from an e-mail this week! Maybe I’m being too critical, but when a company has four BIOS updates that fix a number of problems and things like CPU updates they should be made public ASAP!
Regardless of the BIOS update issues the abit AW9D-MAX motherboard is a very well put together motherboard. When it comes to performance the only two areas that left me wanting more was in the audio and memory departments. Overclocking the platform will solve the low memory bandwidth performance without a doubt and since many gamers slap in a sound card like the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi neither of these areas should be a big concern to enthusiasts and gamers! Since the audio is on a daughter card it can be simply removed from the system, which is an added bonus over some other designs where the audio is built into the board itself.
The Silent OTES 2 cooling solution for the chipsets is nice and it’s great to see that OTES cooling, which started on the abit Ti-4200 back in 2002 is still alive and kicking. The all solid capacitor design is very nice and so are the seven 3-pin fan connectors that are placed all over the motherboard. If one counts the 4-pin power header for the CPU cooler the AW9D MAX can power eight fans off the board! The software and utilities that come with the board are also very handy. The FlashMenu allows users to save the currently installed BIOS, and flash a new one from internet or from a file which is something i did 10+ times since I’ve owned the board and it works perfectly.
When it comes down to pricing the abit AW9D-MAX will set you back ~$209.99 plus shipping, which is a steal considering rival chipsets like the NVIDIA 680i will run you $409.99 if you want something like the ASUS Striker Extreme! Also don’t forget if you want to run Crossfire the i975X chipset fully supports it, while the 680i supports SLI. When picking out a motherboard make sure you have one that supports the upgrade path that you are happy with! Be sure to add the abit AW9D-MAX motherboard to the short list of Intel LGA775 motherboards that are really enthusiast friendly and able to support upcoming quad-core processors!
Legit Bottom Line: The abit AW9D-MAX Motherboard can overclock with the best of them and has enough features to make even the most picky people jump with joy.