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ABIT AN8 Ultra - Passively Cooled Motherboard - ABIT AN8 Ultra
Cooling aside the AN8 Ultra is a fairly decent motherboard, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles but it has all the features you’d expect and then some. One of the more interesting features of this board is ABIT’s AudioMAX 7.1-channel audio riser. In contrast to the Fatal1ty AA8XE this time around ABIT has moved that audio controller to the riser card which should reduce any interference from the motherboard. The connectors on the back of the riser consists of 7.1-channel audio outputs, a microphone input, a shared line-in/S/PDIF in and S/PDIF out.
The rear connection complement on the board consists of a single six-pin FireWire port, two PS/2 ports, four USB 2.0 ports and an Ethernet connector for the onboard Gigabit Ethernet controller. There are three spare USB 2.0 headers on the board, but ABIT only supplies a bracket that can use one of those headers for an additional two USB 2.0 ports. The same bracket has two FireWire ports, one four pin and one six pin, but oddly enough the board only has one FireWire header so you’d have to choose which one to use. Four SATA cables and a single IDE and floppy cable make up the remaining accessories.
The board layout is fairly clean with the power connectors towards the top of the board and plenty of space around the CPU socket and memory slots. Both of the IDE connectors are at an angle horizontally with the board, something which can make for tidy cable routing depending on your case. The nForce4 Ultra chipsets also adds four SATA connectors and ABIT is using the sturdier type, although sadly the SATA cables don’t clip in to the connectors like those that Gigabyte supplies. One issue is the location of the floppy connector – that is if you’re still using a floppy drive – as it’s located at the bottom of the board below the PCI slots.