Abit KN9 SLI Socket AM2 motherboard
SLI for less
Review Built around Nvidia's nForce 570 SLI chipset for Socket AM2, the KN9 SLI generated a fair amount of pre-launch anticipation based, not only on the chipset, but also its clean layout, expected selling price and well-rounded spec sheet. Was that anticipation justified?
For around £80, the KN9 SLI features a variety of gamer-friendly features, including Nvidia's FirstPacket technology, a chipset-controlled system allowing the user to configure precisely how game data, VoIP and file transfers are prioritised over the network. In addition, dual Gigabit Ethernet takes care of LAN requirements while visuals are hurried along by the implementation of SLI allowing a pair of suitable graphics cards to run in tandem.
One of the primary differences between nForce 570 and nForce 590 chipsets is that the latter offers two full-bandwidth, 16-lane (x16) PCI Express channels while the 570 allows for only eight-lane (x8) channels. In gaming terms the difference between dual x8 and dual x16 SLI implementations will range between minimal and nil, certainly based on current games and graphics hardware.
Using Abit's now familiar orange and bronze PCB colour scheme, the KN9 SLI is a distinctive-looking board. The orange and green memory slots are quite tightly spaced which can potentially make for less efficient cooling with all slots populated. Somewhat confusingly, Abit has also chosen to use the same colour for adjacent memory slots rather than colour-code them according to memory channel.
Both the ATX power connector and the single ATA133 IDE connector are placed well out of the way on the perimeter of the board and all six SATA connectors are readily accessible, even with longer graphics cards in place. In addition to the four hardwired USB 2.0 ports there are three on-board headers for a further six ports, four of which can be exploited using the supplied expansion bracket. There's no bracket for the last two but with the majority of cases now equipped with USB ports this shouldn't be a problem. The same expansion bracket also comes with a four-pin and a six-pin FireWire port for the two onboard FireWire headers.