Universal Abit IP35-Pro review
I am sure we all have heard of Intel’s new generation chipset entitled ‘bearlake’. After the Intel announcement a slew of motherboards were brought out by various manufacturers of varying specifications. I received my board soon after. The board I received was the Abit IP35 Pro (off limits)
I greeted this board with a little sceptism, in all honesty as we all know the X38 chipset is on its way, which promises to be much faster.
The following are the screenshots from the box art itself, however I shall not repeat the motherboard specifications here instead it would be wise to direct the reader to the following link.
Box art images.
A brief note on testing Equipment IF I may
2GIGS of corsair XMS 2 SLI Mem @ 4-4-4-12
8800GTS XFX VGA
1X SATA 2 500GIG Seagate Hard Disk Drive
Corsair HX620 psu (WHICH Is actually a rebadged Seasonic)
COOLING equipment (water cooled)
THermochil PA120.3 Radiator in push/pull config (best WC rad around)
DDV 5 vario pump
Apogee gt waterblock
All tubing 1/2 " Id
All nickel High-Flow Barbs
Upon reading the box before opening the product, I glanced over the specifications, and one line caught my eye.
‘Abit Silent OTES™ Heat-pipe cooling’ As a result my first thought was ‘oh dear not ANOTHER board that is passively cooled’ I am pretty well known to be an advocate of active cooling especially when Overclocking is being carried out. So initially my thoughts where ‘this board is going to get HOT’ however I am pleased to tell you I could not have been more WRONG! More on this aspect later!
Inside the motherboard box we have various SATA cables USB connectors and of course the manual.
A brief word about the manual if I may. As most abit users in the last few motherboard releases have been aware, the BIOS section in the manual has been very poor with only ONE page only for the BIOS section. Well abit has listened to us and have included a comprehensive chapter on how to set the BIOS.
Upon looking at the SATA cables themselves I admittedly was a little puzzled on why they have only chosen to include straight SATA cables only. Since the board itself has right-angled SATA connectors then logically it would be better to have a SATA cable that has a straight through connector on ONE end, this part connects to the board itself and the other end of the cable should be RIGHT-angled to connect to the hard drive or DVD RW ! Why abit did not do this as they have with the AB9 Quad GT and the IN932MAX. However I have had a word with abit on this minor issue and this is now being corrected.
Right angled Cable at one end
Now we come to the board itself. As you can see by the layout that the basics are very similar to the QUAD GT. Since the insane placement of the AB9 Pro board, Abit boards have radically undergone a design re-think, based in part from the users’ comments. Upon looking long and hard at the motherboard layout, I honestly cannot really find ANY fault with it. All critical components on the board have been placed at locations that make sense.
What does appeal to me is that abit (on this board anyway) have done away with the HOT running digital MOSFET chip and as such have reverted back to the good old tried and tested ones that you find on most boards. This actually appeals to me as this means we have a MUCH cooler running motherboard. Upon speaking with abit they mentioned that the digital chip was the first generation and on the X38 board the chip will be a MUCH improved second generation type. Interesting to note that most of the CPU area is clean of MOSFETS so third party coolers and water cooling blocks are not a problem unlike other models. You will also note by the photograph below that I have attached a ‘Swiftech Apogee GT’ block to the board, you will also note that there is AMPLE clearance on all sides of the block
CPU area with WATER block
Next we take a look at the heat-pipe array! Once again we have aluminium heats-sinks made to look like copper. However I could have been wrong, so I carried out the good old ‘scratch test’. The results were indeed what I surmised before hand, the heat sink array was indeed Aluminium. However later I was to conclude that COPPER is not need for this board.
As in the last motherboard release the IN932 Max abit have once again utilised the EZ-Clear CMOS switch at the back of the board. This is for when you have set the BIOS incorrectly and the board no longer POST’s correctly. You can then reach around the back of your case, flip the switch, and hey presto your back to default settings. This is a nice feature as then you have no need to crack your case open to clear CMOS!
Lastly it is noted that the fan headers on this board have their own MOSFET so you can connect a high performance fan without blowing the fan header.
Motherboard installation in my case was a breeze. It must be noted that I have a Lian-Li V2000b+ case at the time of writing this review and that the board is INVERTED in this case. The reason why I have mentioned this is that some Heat pipe based systems do not work very well whilst the board is inverted. The abit system handles this with EASE, so for those whom have esoteric cases out there that require an inverted motherboard, please be rest assured that the abit solution will work for you!
Board inside the case
The onboard Soundcard is basically the same as the IN932 Max solution, however with the IP35 pro there is no output to DTS.
Lastly upon looking at the board, I noticed the ‘JMicron’ Controller for the IDE ports. Why Abit decided to utilise this I have no idea, there are far more effective solutions out there. Admittedly Jmicron have improved, but still it’s not the best.
Abit have done a nice job on the BIOS, notice the manual adjustment of the ‘GTL ‘Regs in the setup.
A few criticisms were that the BIOS timings for the RAM would go no lower then CL4 and that the command rate for the RAM could not be set. However updated BIOS has been released which addresses these issues.
IP35 Pro/IN932 MAX Results comparison
In the first instance it could be said that it is an unfair to compare these two motherboards as they are two totally different chipsets. However when we ask the following questions then the comparision then makes sense.
Does the User want/ or need SLI?
Is the user going to overclock? If so then HEAT issues come into effect here
Does the user need a Out-of-the-box Solution or are they happy to modify the board?
When we factor into account these questions then it is worth testing these two boards.
The In932 Max is a great board however, due to the nature of the Nvidia chipset the motherboard gets hot, as a great many users have reported, and to overclock the board to higher levels. Therefore a new heatsink solution with fans is needed.
Generally the IP 35 Pro board is faster in most departments than the IN932max as the following test results will prove. This leaves the only real advantage of the IN932MAX is its SLI facility.
Test Results for the IP35 Pro
3DMARK 05 results with a 8800gts quadcore AT STOCK
Test Results for the IN932 Max
In short if you have a use for SLI then go for the IN932 MAX! If this is not the case then your attention would be better direct towards the IP35 Pro, especially if we factor in the price point of these two boards
Test for this are still being carried out and an update will be posted to you ASAP. However my initial results are positive. On a QUAD core 6600 472mhz FSB is achievable WITHOUT any board modification, which is BETTER than the IN932 MAX!
I am most impressed by how COOL this motherboard runs, and therefore how stable it is. However this applies to the PWM's only! The northbridge still gets quite hot! Pushing this board at the above FSB on a QUADCORE says it all really. True water cooling has been used, however if you note that the board has been utilised with the STANDARD default cooling method only, then you realise the boards true potential.
Despite how good this board is, one can not help feeling that Abit are saving the best for the X38. So with this said, this is another factor that must be taken into consideration.
Once again I must say that I am impressed by the overall speed of the chipset, how cool and stable it is. The Overclocking potential as an Out-Of-The-Box situation is very impressive indeed. I have found a few glitches which can be improved, which I have mentioned above, however Abit’s implementation of this board is superb.
I must confess that I have not tested the RAID potential on this board as of yet as I have only one test drive, so as soon as I mange to get hold of another , will then keep you updated.
All in all the IP 35 pro is just does what it says on the tin. It’s a very good implemented board and is a great performer. It just what we want from Abit, rock solid and a great Overclocker. I am glad to know that abit have NOT included fancy stuff like some other boards that I can name and instead concentrated on a decent board.
In all honesty I would not be surprised if Abit won a award or two for this board, even considering the x38 will be released soon.
Great overclocking potential
Runs very cool on the PWMS only (due to the old style mosfets)
Sorry did I mention Stable, ahem I meant VERY stable
OLD Style MOSFETS
Clear area around the CPU
NO Flashy onboard LED’s I.E around the edge like in previous boards
J-Micron controller for IDE (grrr)
Soundcard has no DTS output like the IN932MAX
Northbridge still can get hot
Firewire performance is not always up to scratch.
Bundled SATA leads (minor observation only)
UGURU CPU temperature is WAY out (under windows)
Shipping Bios does not support CL3 and command rate of 1T (however that has now been fixed)
X38 out soon!
If I had to give this board a rating, I would say between a 89 and 91% percent mark, which therefore should put the board in the ‘gold award’ category.
Lastly if Abit continues to produce work of this quality then I see a return to the glory days of the IC7 MAX 3 (I still have one) All in all a job well done!