It’s no secret that Universal Abit has been struggling for a while – although it still manages to knock out the odd good board now and then. For those in love, as we were, with the IP35 Pro – there'll be an IP45 Pro to replace it and an IP45 GT3 with DDR3 support instead. Both have the same blue PCB, but a slightly upgraded heatpipe cooling array with an 'interesting' metal cover over the top.
Both will have a standard 8-phase CPU power regulation, without any extra “power efficient” features like the competition. The IP35 is also getting a relaunch into the “XE” model which features support for 1,600MHz FSB instead of your standard 1,333MHz.
The MAX range is still alive and kicking too – the IX48 MAX will launch without
a heatpipe and instead will have separate north, south and power regulation heatsinks. To compensate for this the northbridge now has a fan. We were told that enthusiasts will often change the northbridge cooler, so heatpipes were a hindrance, not a value-add.
The CPU gets a five phase digital PWM power system like the IX38 Quad GT, but a black PCB and extra features like the Realtek ALC888 Dolby Digital sound chipset and a funky new black box it’s packaged in.
Abit’s mainsteam range is still alive too – it has the new Nvidia 8200 and AMD 780G IGP motherboards which both come with HDMI, Hybrid SLI or CrossFire, four phase CPU power but also a somewhat unappealing orange-brown PCB instead. While the blue and black PCB boards from the Pro's, GT3's and MAX's get all solid aluminium capacitors - in comparison, the mainstream range looks far cheaper.
Apart from Abit’s ‘wares, we were also alerted that the UK office has lost all but one person and has effectively shut down. To RMA a board now you have to send it directly to the Netherlands instead – while we were told this should prove a faster turnaround time, it’s also more expensive for us end users to ship it out of the country. So while there were a lot of smiles from (most of) the Abit crowd here in CeBit, it still looks like tough times ahead for UK customers. Tell us what you think in the forums