Abit AV8-3rd Eye review

Price when reviewed

If you want to go down the Socket 939 Athlon 64 route, Abit has a very tempting offer. In keeping with the high-end CPUs for this platform, there’s very little missing from the AV8-3rd Eye.

Abit AV8-3rd Eye review

Based on VIA’s K8T800 Pro chipset, the board has five PCI slots, an AGP slot and four DIMM sockets. There are also two Ultra ATA and two Serial ATA connectors. RAID is available through the VIA VT8237 controller, which offers both RAID0 and RAID1 configurations – not quite as complex as others, but sufficient for most people.

But it’s with the I/O backplane where the AV8-3rd Eye really stands out. Both parallel and serial ports are included for users with older peripherals. There are also four USB 2 ports, gigabit Ethernet and a FireWire socket. The six-channel support offered by the Realtek ALC658 audio chip will constrain a few people, but the MSI K8T Neo2 offers eight-channel sound if you need it. We like the fact that Abit’s three line-out ports mean you don’t have to unplug line-in and microphone connectors, and there are also optical S/PDIF in and out ports. Most other boards don’t provide connectivity like this without relying on PCI backplates. Yet Abit still ups the ante by bundling a backplate with another two USB 2 ports along with FireWire and mini-FireWire.

The most interesting accessory is the Guru Clock. It’s an LCD that attaches to the motherboard’s header via a backplate and USB lead. With it, you can dynamically overclock your PC as you use it, watching the frequencies, voltages and temperatures in real-time. The device also tells you when email and Instant Messages arrive, not to mention your ambient room temperature and the time. Overclockers will also appreciate the Guru utilities available in the BIOS. These allow a good degree of manual tweaking of the CPU, memory and expansion card slots, while at the same time including dividers to isolate them all.

Even if you’re not interested in this, the Abit is still a great value Socket 939 motherboard. Performance is top-notch too: the K8T800 Pro chipset produced the fastest benchmark scores on show. Just remember that while the new FX-55 CPU is cheaper than Intel’s Extreme Edition Pentium 4, it’s still a great deal more than a Socket 754 processor.

Abit makes a big thing of using Japanese capacitors, proven ‘to be the most stable in the world’. We can’t say whether this is true, but we can say that this is the board to buy if you want to invest in Socket 939. It’s almost identical to MSI’s K8T, but as long as the short warranty and lack of bundled software doesn’t bother you, it’s the best choice.

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