While the AW9D series does boast several changes over the Abit AW8 series, there are many similarities in the board design. One of the most apparent changes is the blue PCB as opposed to the black PCB found on the Abit AW8 and AW8-MAX. Found in the upper right hand corner of the motherboard is an 8-pin EPS 12V power connector, four DDR2 DIMM slots, and the 24-pin power supply connector. The DDR2 slots support DDR2-800/667 with a maximum memory capacity of 8GB. These memory slots are positioned far enough away from the top PCI Express graphics slot to prevent any installation problems. For those that do not have an 8-pin + 24-pin power supply, a molex connector can be found in the lower left hand corner of the motherboard to provide the additional power.
In the lower right hand corner of the motherboard is the single IDE connector and four Serial ATA 2.0 connectors. The SATA ports are provided by the ICH7R and supports Intel Matrix Storage with RAID 0/1/0+1/5. Covered beneath the passive heatsink in this area is the Intel ICH7R Southbridge. This Southbridge is attached to the PCB via pushpins in opposing corners and is not part of the Silent OTES cooling system, which we will discuss later in this article. Also in this corner of the motherboard are the front panel headers, two USB 2.0 headers, and Abit uGuru controller. Unfortunately, Abit has yet to fully support uGuru under GNU/Linux. Abit's latest revision of uGuru allows an AutoDrive feature through OC Guru. AutoDrive allows the user to use different overclocking settings depending upon the application.
Moving near the expansion slots is the floppy disk connector, 4-pin molex connector, and BIOS chip. There are also a few empty areas on the motherboard where the Abit AW9D-MAX has additional ASICs. The AW9D-MAX supports seven Serial ATA 2.0 ports and one eSATA port. The MAX variant also supports IEEE-1394a Firewire. The expansion slots on the motherboard include two PCI Express x16, two PCI Express x1, one PCI, and one port for the Abit AudioMAX sound card. The two PCI Express x16 slots are capable of using ATI's CrossFire and NVIDIA's SLI MultiGPU technology. However, the NVIDIA SLI drivers do not presently support the Intel 975X Chipset. Once this support is appended, users will be able to use SLI (the SLI bridge is also included with this motherboard). Unfortunately, there is no known ETA for when NVIDIA will append this support. To allow for adequate cooling positioned between the two PCI-E x16 slots are the two PCI-E x1 slots.
Moving our way to the LGA-775 socket area, we first are presented with the Silent Q-OTES cooling system. We had first seen Silent OTES at Computex Taipei last year, and then we had seen it adapted with the AW8 series. While the original OTES adaptation on the IC7-MAX3 had used a 40mm fan at the I/O panel and an active Chipset cooler, as implied by its name, Silent OTES does not. While different from the Silent OTES on the i955X AW8 series, Silent OTES on the AW9D and AW9D-MAX use a heatpipe to connect the Northbridge to the rear of the motherboard for exhaust. Additional heatsinks are also placed on the power circuitry around the socket area. This design is certainly much quieter than what was found on the IC7-MAX3 and the Fatal1ty edition of the Abit i925XE motherboard, while it should offer adequate performance in all environments except for extreme overclocking. The AW9D series also features OC strips on the rear of the PCB.
Finally moving onto the Socket T (LGA-775) area, supported by the AW9D series is support for Intel's Core 2 Duo and Quad as well as compatibility with the Pentium 4 and D series. A maximum FSB of 1066MHz is supported along with support for Hyper Threading, EIST, and Virtualization Technology. Around the socket area there should be no obstructions causing any problems if you are using an after-market heatsink or water block. At the rear of the motherboard are two PS/2 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and one 10/100/1000 networking connection. As Silent OTES takes up quite a bit of room in the I/O panel area, the legacy ports have been removed. The AW9D-MAX motherboard features an additional networking controller, Firewire, and eSATA port.