If you’ve seen one Nvidia 680i reference board, you’ve seen them all. Not so with Abit’s IN9 32X-MAX board, which thumbs its nose at the me-too crowd. The IN9 32X-MAX features Nvidia’s top 680i chipset, which gets you two x16 PCI-E slots for SLI, a third full-length x8 PCI-E slot for graphics, and support for unannounced, unofficial 1,333MHz FSB processors.
We’ve nagged Abit about funky slot configurations before, but the IN9 makes no such mistakes. With dual 8800s installed, you have access to one PCI, one x8 PCI-E, and one x1 PCI-E slot. The layout of the IN9 is nearly flawless; our only complaint is that our unit didn’t come with an auxiliary fan to cool the voltage regulators. It’s supposed to be included, but ours was apparently lost.
To make the board worthy of the “MAX” moniker, Abit bundles in Wi-Fi, surface-mounted buttons, an HDMI header for audio, and a rear-mounted CMOS reset switch, should your overclocking project go sideways.
Overclocking is one area in which the IN9 has a big advantage over the MSI board (reviewed next). We ran the IN9 with a 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo E6300 with the FSB pushed up to 1,333MHz and even did a few runs at over 1,400MHz with no issues. With performance a nonissue, we think the choice comes down to features. The enthusiast-oriented features of the IN9 push it beyond the budget MSI board. Still this isn’t the best 680i board we’ve seen. That honor goes to Asus’s awesome Striker Extreme.
Easy-to-use BIOS is still our favorite.
Mediocre documentation; Realtek audio doesn’t support EAX.