So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Abit Computer AL8
- Includes RAID diskette, excellence performance, high speed firewire transfer
- Capacitors close to graphics card slot
Rock solid performance and pain-free installation make this board a sweet choice as a new Intel Pentium platform. It's a particularly good board to consider if you use a lot of FireWire devices.
Price$ 269.00 (AUD)
ABIT thoughtfully includes a floppy disk with RAID drivers in this Intel 945P-based motherboard, which is convenient if you want to install Windows XP on a RAID array. We did just that with this board, using the integrated Intel RAID controller (it also has a two-port Silicon Image RAID controller), and experienced no issues at all during the operating system installation nor during benchmarking. In fact, this board produced excellent scores in all of our tests, especially in the FireWire test, in which it topped nearly all other boards we have looked at.
The design of the board places the PCIe graphics slot just below the memory slots, which means you would have to remove your graphics card to add or remove memory modules. Four capacitors reside very near the PCIe release lever, which could make graphics card removal tricky. There is only one IDE port is on this board as well as a floppy drive port, which is located on the bottom edge of the board and may cause cable routing headaches. Legacy ports are present on the rear connectivity cluster, along with a FireWire port.
The Northbridge has an active cooling device attached to it, which was not noisy, and ABIT's mGuru utility can be used through Windows to control its profile--whether you want it to be running at full-speed or slightly stifled. The package includes IDE and floppy cables, four secure SATA cables as well as a dual-head power cable, and an expansion bracket that connects to the internal USB 2.0 and FireWire ports.
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