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Abit's AV8 motherboard

uGuru comes to Socket 939

Price (street)$109

WE MAY BE experiencing something of an overclocking renaissance. Athlon 64 processors allow lower multipliers, and new chipsets boast locks for AGP/PCI speeds. Meanwhile, a range of companies is offering DDR memory running at speeds up to 550MHz. All the necessary ingredients are there, but to bake up a stable system running faster than stock, you'll need a motherboard built with overclocking in mind—a board like the AV8, Abit's latest in a long line of enthusiast-oriented motherboards designed to laugh at stock clock speeds. With all the must-have integrated peripherals, a working AGP/PCI lock, a sub-$110 price tag, and a BIOS laden with tweaking and overclocking options, the AV8 has the potential to be the ultimate Athlon 64 overclocking platform. Let's see if it delivers.

The specs
Before we dig into the board, let's give the AV8's spec sheet a quick once-over.

CPU supportSocket 939-based Athlon 64 processors
Form factorATX
ChipsetVIA K8T800 Pro
North bridgeVIA K8T800 Pro
South bridgeVIA VT8237
InterconnectUltra V-Link  (1.06GB/sec)
PCI slots5 32-bit/33MHz
AGP slots1 AGP 4X/8X (1.5V only)
Memory4 184-pin DIMM sockets
Maximum of 4GB of DDR266/333/400 SDRAM
Storage I/OFloppy disk
2 channels ATA/133
2 channels Serial ATA 150 via VT8237 south bridge with RAID 0,1 support
Audio6-channel audio via VT8237 integrated audio and ALC658 codec
Ports1 PS/2 keyboard
1 PS/2 mouse
1 serial
1 parallel
USB 2.0 with headers for 4 more
1 Firewire via VIA VT6306 with headers for 2 more
1 RJ45 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet via VIA VT6122

1 analog front out
1 analog bass/center out
1 analog rear out
1 analog line in
1 analog mic in
1 digital S/PDIF output (TOS-Link)
1 digital S/PDIF input (TOS-Link)
BIOSPhoenix AwardBIOS
Bus speedsCPU: 200-336MHz in 1MHz increments
Bus dividersCPU:AGP:PCI: 8:2:1, 7:2:1, 6:2:1, fixed
VoltagesCPU: 1.5-1.85V in 0.025V increments
AGP: 1.5-1.65V in 0.05V increments
DRAM: 2.5-2.8V in 0.05V increments
Northbridge: 1.5-1.65V in 0.05V increments
Southbridge: 2.5-2.65V in 0.05V increments
HT: 1.2-1.4V in 0.05V increments
MonitoringVoltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring

With integrated Serial ATA RAID, Gigabit Ethernet, Firewire, and six-channel audio, the AV8 has most of the peripherals you'd expect from an enthusiast-oriented mobo. The board does lack "parallel" ATA RAID, though; VIA's VT8237 RAID is Serial ATA only.

In addition to the absence of ATA RAID, the AV8 notably lacks extra Ethernet or RAID controllers. With many high-end boards sporting extra Gigabit Ethernet and RAID chips, the AV8's spec sheet comes off looking a little sparse. However, it's important to note that the AV8 is available for under $110—a price few peripheral-laden boards can match.