ABIT AB9 Pro Motherboard - Not Windows XP Install friendly

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ABIT AB9 Pro Motherboard - Not Windows XP Install friendly

Postby Apoptosis » Tue Sep 05, 2006 10:40 pm

As many of you might have noticed in this other thread that I was recently looking for a Conroe motherboard to use for a local customer. I orderd the ABIT AB9 Pro from Newegg for $157.99 and just got the board in today. I honestly fought with it for HOURS just trying to get Windows to load with out giving me a BSOD every time and was by far the hardest board to get Windows on and all I was trying to do was setup a RAID 1 hard drive configuration via the Intel ICH8R chipset.

Opening the Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 and seeing interesting Thermal Paste Application by Intel:

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The E6300 and Corsair PC2-6400C5 memory installed on the AB9 Pro:

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What was ABIT thinking with this BIOS color... you can't change it:

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The BSOD that I saw a million times:

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ABIT's great location of the IDE header and the Floppy Drive header:

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The ABIT AB9 Pro features 10 SATA (9 x Internal SATA 3Gb/s ports and 1 x External SATA 3Gb/s port) controlled by not one, not two, but THREE SATA Controllers. This means you have to wait for the ICH8R, MB363 and Silicon Image 3132 controllers to load before windows can post, which means long boot times. I wanted to use the Intel ICH8R chipset for my RAID 1 array, so i went into the BIOS set the drives from IDE to RAID and hit CRTL + I when the system was posting and set up the RAID 1 array with the name and size that I needed. I then let Windows XP load off the CD and hit F6 to load the RAID drivers from the floppy disk. The drivers loaded just fine, but I kept getting the above blue screen of death each and every time windows started for the first time. This means you have to start over from scratch. This went on for some time and I tried a number of different settings and had no luck. I even went into the BIOS and tried to disable the Silicon Image and JMicron controllers, but then found the floppy drive and optical drives wouldn't work.

After a dinner break and going home it hit me. ABIT uses the JMicron controller to handle the IDE channels, so when I disabled it that's why the optical drive and floppy drive weren't detected. I was installing the RAID controller for the Intel ICH8R chipset like I was supposed to, but when windows was trying to load it had BSOD's as it couldn't communicate with the installation CD in the optical drive via the Jmicron chip. To get RAID 1 via the Intel ICH8R chipset to work I had to install both the Intel RAID drivers and the Jmicron RAID drivers for the Windows install not to fail. No place in the directions does it mention any of this. ABIT sucked it up on this board... The placement of the IDE headers is really poor. The colors of the BIOS are reall bad. A ton of minor naming issues in the BIOS are annoying (SATA CDROM is really the CD-ROM, but they call it SATA CDROM as it uses the JMicron chip). Overclocking is bad... I corrupted my Windows install by overclocking my E6300 to 325MHz FSB from the factory 266MHz setting. Right now the system is stable at 300MHz FSB with the 2:3 memory divider, so my memory is at 900MHz CL5.

I'm not impressed. The boot time is sooo slow because of all the SATA controllers it's not funny. Spend the extra money and get a different Conroe board.

If you do buy this board load the Jmicron RAID drivers even though you may or may not be using RAID as it won't read the optical drive to install windows without the drivers!
Last edited by Apoptosis on Tue Sep 05, 2006 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Apoptosis » Tue Sep 05, 2006 10:42 pm

here are some BIOS shots if someone is interested. These images are of ABIT AB9 Pro motherboard BIOS version 1.3

The DDR2 Voltage on the ABIT AB9 Pro goes up to 2.5Vdimm

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The core voltage goes all the way up to 1.7250V

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The MCH voltage ranges from 1.25V to 1.45V

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I'm so confused by this board... It offers 10 SATA connections, but only one PCI Express slot. It's running nice and stable now at 2.1GHz, but it was such a pain to setup. I feel sorry for everyone that buys this as their first DIY motherboard... man oh man.

To recap... I installed winxp using the SATA0 and SATA1 port. You definitely need the jmicron driver (for the CDROM drive) and the intel driver for the main SATA devices. Also, make sure you don't have any of the floppy disks in the drive before setup asks you for the first manufacturer disk - this will make it so you can only install the first driver (because apparently windows setup thinks it is a non-removable device, and wont ask you to put any other disk in again). Make sure the floppy is empty until after you press 'S' and it asks you to insert the diskette.

I ALSO had to use a regular PS/2 keyboard, because windows setup wouldn't detect my USB keyboard (you may be able to switch to USB LEGACY BIOS MODE in the motherboard BIOS to get legacy device support working in the windows installer).

It's sad that in 2006 we are still stuck using Floppy drives and PS/2 devices to set up our operating systems!
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Postby DMB2000uk » Wed Sep 06, 2006 6:18 am

Is that a Lian Li case by any chance? :P

Sound's really sucky that they have given it so many additional 'enthusiast features' yet done a really bad implementation of them. imo, 9/10 you get what you pay for! Though it shouldnt have to be that way.

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Postby pastorjay » Wed Sep 06, 2006 6:30 am

Dang, that has got to be one of the worst boards to setup ever! That is a sad, sad board! Sorry abit wasted so much of your time man!
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Postby Apoptosis » Wed Sep 06, 2006 6:35 am

DMB2000uk wrote:Is that a Lian Li case by any chance? :P

Sound's really sucky that they have given it so many additional 'enthusiast features' yet done a really bad implementation of them. imo, 9/10 you get what you pay for! Though it shouldnt have to be that way.

Dan


Yes, It's the LIAN LI PC-7B plus II and I love it... the two 120mm fans work great and the only thing that wasn't right was the removable hard drive tray... with hard drives installed in the tray it can't be re-screwed into the case as the hard drives are blocking the screws... lol

After messing with it a bit more I don't think the 667MHz memory divider works too well... crashes (BSOD when Windows loads) with the Corsair PC2-6400 memory when I use it.
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Postby DMB2000uk » Wed Sep 06, 2006 7:25 am

lol, I had that trouble on my friends case too! It is held down pretty good without screws though, but the way I did it was to leave the HDD's loose so they could be slid along the rail and then screwed the cage in, then tightened the screws up on the HD. I still couldnt get to a screw or two on the back of the cage though.

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Postby crotale » Wed Sep 06, 2006 12:16 pm

Apoptosis:
I have also had some problems with BSOD at the beginning of the installation. There is a new BIOS coming for it to fix the IDE emulation problem with the JMicron controller.

To make it work with BIOS 13 or earlier you need to press F6 and add the JMicron driver disc. That's for the BSOD. Then you need the RAID driver as you figured out.

I only used a single HDD, so I used the IDE emulation on both the Intel and the Silicon controller. Other than that, I haven't had a single problem with it :)
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Postby Apoptosis » Wed Sep 06, 2006 2:40 pm

They need that BIOS really really bad if you ask me.

Have you tried overclocking the board? What little that I did wasn't impressive.
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Postby dicecca112 » Wed Sep 06, 2006 4:40 pm

I'm pretty active in the abit forums, so I'll offer the limited knowledge i know. All conroe ABit boards have memory compatibility issues. Its a joke. The BSOD is common, and was no fix, until they released the newest bios. Abit is done as far as I'm concerned if they don't hit it out of the park with the aw9 series
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Postby HONkUS » Wed Sep 06, 2006 5:00 pm

The layout on that board is hilarious! were they trying to give it as bad airflow as possible whats up with the IDE placement?
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Postby Apoptosis » Wed Sep 06, 2006 5:47 pm

dicecca112 wrote:I'm pretty active in the abit forums, so I'll offer the limited knowledge i know. All conroe ABit boards have memory compatibility issues. Its a joke. The BSOD is common, and was no fix, until they released the newest bios. Abit is done as far as I'm concerned if they don't hit it out of the park with the aw9 series


I hate to say it, but I agree with you. Bad layouts and designs will hurt, but when you're already at an all time low it will kill you. The ASUS / Gigabyte merger is really going to impact smaller companies like ABIT and DFI. If they don't get things right now they wont be around in the future.
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Postby dicecca112 » Wed Sep 06, 2006 6:18 pm

frankly its sad, my old NF7-M was and still is rock solid. The Aw8D I had is terrible and died on me. Was told that it could not be RMAed due to some stupid reason. What irks me the most is that they label this boards as for overclockers, and they have stupid issues like your windows problem, and the ab9 and aw8d's lack of memory support
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Postby dicecca112 » Sat Sep 09, 2006 4:25 pm

apop it appears the solution to the BSOD is to install all the sata drivers, the Jmicron, via I believe and Intel ones. All that are supplied with the mobo. I'd help you, seeing i have the board next to me, but its going back, after seeing all the problems, and I really want a Conroe
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Postby warlockza » Mon Sep 11, 2006 12:43 am

AW9D-MAX Rocks
I think abit went through tough times, but now thwey have come out firing.
With backing from Anandtech and Bit-tech, you can bet this board is on the money...except for the lack of PCI slots.:-(

I heard this board is Quad Core ready, and judging by the benchmarks I've seen at both those sites, it seems to be a winner..:-)

abit to the max:-)
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Postby Apoptosis » Fri Sep 22, 2006 2:37 pm

warlockza wrote:AW9D-MAX Rocks
I think abit went through tough times, but now thwey have come out firing.
With backing from Anandtech and Bit-tech, you can bet this board is on the money...except for the lack of PCI slots.:-(

I heard this board is Quad Core ready, and judging by the benchmarks I've seen at both those sites, it seems to be a winner..:-)

abit to the max:-)


Thanks Peter --- Just wanted to let everyone know that Peter works for ABIT over in Taiwan and we are glad to have him in the forums! Peter and I have talked in person back at E3 and we both spoke about the PCI slot issue as I was the one that pointed it out to them the first time they showed off the FATAL1ty board in person and wrote the following article on it. We pointed out the fact that the PCI slot was blocked back in May, so it's shocking that the AW9D-MAX doesn't have the issue fixed nearly 5 months later.
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Postby DMB2000uk » Fri Sep 22, 2006 3:50 pm

heh, hasnt stopped me buying one :P
(though it is pretty shocking to think that if i would go down the crossfire/sli route i would lose my one and only PCI slot.

Hopefully add in card manufacturers will be kicked into making more PCI-x versions of things.

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Postby kenc51 » Fri Sep 22, 2006 4:05 pm

DMB2000uk wrote:heh, hasnt stopped me buying one :P
(though it is pretty shocking to think that if i would go down the crossfire/sli route i would lose my one and only PCI slot.

Hopefully add in card manufacturers will be kicked into making more PCI-x versions of things.

Dan


Sound cards are not going to be on the PCIe bus for a while, if at all.......supposedly PCI has lower latency which is required for sound cards!

Lets hope onboard sound gets better!
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Postby dicecca112 » Fri Sep 22, 2006 4:48 pm

Hopefully add in card manufacturers will be kicked into making more PCI-x versions of things.


Its PCI-E PCI-x is a server PCI slot, 64 vs 32
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Postby DMB2000uk » Fri Sep 22, 2006 6:58 pm

oh, i always thought the little 1x slots were x, but i was wrong :P
Always learning!

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Postby dicecca112 » Sat Sep 23, 2006 9:28 am

Its a common mistake and one of my pet peeves. PCI-X slots are longer than normal PCI slots but still PCI. A lot of people try to use the PCI-Ex but for some reason drop the E. I mean we all know what you mean was PCI-E just that I'm crazy and that stuff bothers me
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