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:
The E6300 and Corsair PC2-6400C5 memory installed on the AB9 Pro:
What was ABIT thinking with this BIOS color... you can't change it:
The BSOD that I saw a million times:
ABIT's great location of the IDE header and the Floppy Drive header:
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!