Abit AW9D-Max 975X-based mobo
Abit rises from the ashes?
There are four SATA connectors towards the front of the board courtesy of the Intel ICH-7R South Bridge chip - which also adds an IDE connector - but Abit has fitted a further two SATA controllers on the AW9D-Max. One is located toward the rear of the board for the single e-SATA connector and a internal SATA connector that is awkwardly located between the CPU socket and the heatpipes. This means that if you use a large CPU cooler, this SATA connector will become virtually inaccessible. Towards the bottom of the board is the other SATA controller. It adds a further two SATA connectors which are located between the PCI slot and the floppy connector.
In addition to the four rear USB 2.0 ports there are two headers on the motherboard for a further four USB 2.0 ports. There are also two connectors for Firewire. A bracket with two USB 2.0 ports and a six and four-pin Firewire connector is supplied with the board.
The location of the power connectors are towards the edge of the board, making both the 24-pin and eight-pin connectors easy to reach. However, for CrossFire set-ups a Molex connector has been fitted to the bottom of the board, just below the connector for the AudioMax riser card. This is very awkward to get to and adds to untidy cable routing in the case.
Abit has also added a couple of features that can be useful when you're putting together your new system: a power and reset button on the board and a debug LED display. The two LEDs will show error codes that can then be referenced with the manual in case something isn't working properly.
Overall build quality seems to be very good, although only time will tell. But judging by the components used, Abit has pulled out all the stops when it comes to the AW9D-Max. The layout is slightly cluttered, with the heatpipes helping to give this impression. Finally, Abit has added blue LEDs to several locations around the board which lights up when you power on the board.