abit NF-M2 Motherboard Review :: Setup Layout and installation

12-15-2006 · Category: Motherboards

By Benjamin Sun

Setting up a system is second nature to me by now with all of the different motherboards we've tested and reviewed over the last few years here at Motherboards.org. We use a custom open-air test station that gives easy access to the computer components. The first step in any installation of a new motherboard is of course to make sure the motherboard is mounted properly, with screws and washers to mount it.


abit NF-M2 Motherboard Review CPU Socket area

CPU Socket area


Installing an AM2 CPU is easy. Simply take the CPU and mount it aligning the notched corner with the CPU notched corner. There's only one way to install the CPU and if it doesn't slide in easily, you are likely putting it in the wrong way. The AVC cooler we use is a simple affair to install as well. Simply mount the CPU cooler atop the AM2 CPU, lower one arm over one of the hooks on the side of the Socket and use the lever to lower the other one over the other side and lock it into place.


abit NF-M2 Motherboard Review 4-pin power

4-pin power

abit NF-M2 Motherboard Review 24-pin power

24-pin power

abit NF-M2 Motherboard Review FDD position

FDD position


The location of the 4-pin power connector facilitates easy installation as it on the edge of the board, allowing easy routing from the Power Supply. The 24-pin power connector is likewise located in a prime position as cables won't get in the way of installing the system. The one issue I have with the layout of the board is the location of the FDD connector. It is on the far left side of the board. As a mini-ATX board that means that the cable will have to be snaked in some cases around or over the video card especially if a 8800GTX is used.


abit NF-M2 Motherboard Review DIMM slots

DIMM slots


The NF-M2 nView board has 4 DIMM slots which can be installed in either single or dual-channel mode. For testing purposes we use a pair of Crucial Ballistix DDR2 667MHz memory. The board, however, takes up to 800MHz DDR2 memory and I installed a pair of Corsair XMS2 8500 which are rated for 1066MHz without issue as the memory was detected correctly and set to 800MHz, which is the maximum the board supports. There are faster memory modules available, we just got some Kingston 9600 memory in that will be reviewed forthwith.


abit NF-M2 Motherboard Review Expansion slots

Expansion slots


The PCI Express x16 slot takes modern PCI Express video cards. I installed a XFX 8800GTX on the board. A couple of things stuck out at me as I installed it, the card reaches the end of the motherboard, but does not block any of the DIMM slots if the DIMM slots are open, a good thing. This is due to the length of the card and not the motherboard layout. Be aware that the new NVIDIA cards are 23cm long, reaching the end of most motherboards or overhanging them even.


abit NF-M2 Motherboard Review IDE controllers

IDE controllers

abit NF-M2 Motherboard Review SATA ports

SATA ports

abit NF-M2 Motherboard Review nForce 430

nForce 430

abit NF-M2 Motherboard Review USB headers

USB headers

abit NF-M2 Motherboard Review Sysfan

Sysfan

abit NF-M2 Motherboard Review CPUfan

CPUfan


The NVIDIA nForce 430 MCP supports up to four SATA ports natively and abit chose to outfit their NF-M2 nView with four ports. Also present on the board are two IDE controllers, allowing for up to four IDE devices to be connected at one time. Newer chipsets like the nForce 680i only support a single IDE port. Two headers are present to bring the total USB ports supported by the board to 8 along with a Firewire header bringing the total Firewire ports on the board to two.