If you’re a regular reader of TrustedReviews you might have spotted Gordon’s news piece on the Quiet OTES boards from ABIT a while back. The first board to be reviewed here is the AN8 Ultra which is based on the nVidia nForce4 Ultra chipset. It is really just a modified version of the AN8 with the addition of the chipset heatpipe cooler using the Ultra version of the nForce4 chipset rather than the standard version. This might still be enough to convince users looking for low noise components to consider it – after all, just because you want a fast machine, doesn’t mean you want a noisy one.
I’m not overly surprised to see a heatpipe solution on a motherboard, especially considering how hot some of the current chipsets can get. However, the nForce4 Ultra chipset is far from the worst heat producer so this might just be slight overkill. That said, it does look quite cool (no pun intended) and any heat produced by the chipset is moved away from it to the rear of the motherboard were it is exhausted through the back of the case. This means that there is a limited amount of ports at the back of the motherboard due to the fact that there is a big heatsink to which the heatpipe is connected. The heatsink takes up about half of the space were you would normally find the various ports and connectors on the back of a motherboard. To prevent anyone touching the heatsink from the outside by mistake the I/O shield has been fitted with a protective mesh – it looks a bit strange, but then you don’t want anyone burning themselves when plugging cables in.
ABIT has also added passive cooling to the MOSFETs in the shape of two fairly small but tall heatsinks. There are plenty of spare fan connectors on this board due to the passive chipset cooling, but oddly enough the two fan headers just below the heatsink at the rear of the board don’t seem to work. Besides the fan header for the CPU cooler there are three spare connectors for case fans. It is important to have good airflow in your case when you’re using passively cooled components in your PC, so adding a couple of case fans might not be a bad idea.