Oddly, the two SATA connectors belonging to the Silicon Image controller have been placed at the rear of the board between the chipset and the 12V AUX connector making cable routing very untidy. There are also a couple of other minor nuisances. The first is that the bottom right screw hole can’t be used as one of the IDE connectors is covering it. The other is that the connectors to which the case wires are attached are very close to one of the USB headers, which could possibly cause some interference problems depending on the case you use.
To enable SLI mode, ABIT has stuck with a switching card rather than using a BIOS option or a digital switch. I have to give ABIT a thumbs-up for putting the release catch at the top of the slot where it’s easy to get to, rather than at the bottom, where other manufacturers tend to place it.
The rear I/O connectors consist of two PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse, four USB 2.0 ports and an Ethernet connector. A further six USB 2.0 ports can be added, although no rear bracket was provided so unless you have a spare one or a case with front USB ports these are wasted.
As with most high-end ABIT boards a POST debug LED is also present and this can be an invaluable help when things go wrong. The NI8 SLI also features a new version of the microGuru chip and as such works with the new microGuru clock, which is available as a cost option at around £19.
This offers a lot more functionality compared to its predecessors. There’s a USB audio controller for a headphone and a microphone and together with a plug-in for Skype it enables you to use it as an external information terminal. If someone calls you, the microGuru clock will ring and you can answer and end calls from a button on the top of it, although, on our review sample at least, the ringer volume was rather on the low side.