Abit IP35 Pro – Design
Compared to some of the other high-end P35 motherboards, the Abit IP35 Pro is very simple and even looks a little undressed. That said the IP35 Pro features more of a smart and neat design that is far from over the top. Those worried about how much clearance they will have around the CPU socket should not be too concerned with the IP35 Pro.
Abit has done an excellent job making sure that the IP35 Pro will not cause any (physical) compatibility issues with other hardware. The six SATA ports are mounted on a 90 degree angle making them easy to access and possible to use even when paired with Crossfire Radeon HD 2900XT graphics cards, for example. The same has been done with the single IDE port, though this is less of a problem for IDE cables.
The four DIMM slots are also clear of the PCI Express x16 area making it possible to add and remove memory with the graphics card(s) installed. The large 24-pin power connector is well placed along the right hand side of the board, towards the middle. In the bottom right hand corner you will notice two little buttons, a yellow and a brown button. The brown button is actually a power button while the yellow is a reset button. Directly below these two buttons you will find the floppy drive connector tucked away.
At the center of the board you will find the P35 northbridge chip which is cooled by a large aluminum heatsink. This heatsink is linked to the southbridge heatsink and the power circuitry heatsink using a single copper heatpipe. This design while quite simple by today's standards works very well. Surprisingly the Abit IP35 Pro only features a 4-phase power design which is more compact and easier to cool.
The I/O panel is not as busy as we would have liked it to be featuring just four of the ten USB 2.0 ports. Furthermore with so much vacant real-estate on the I/O panel why not include the Firewire ports? Instead you get two PS/2 ports, a clear CMOS switch, dual S/PDIF ports, two eSATA ports, six audio jacks, two LAN ports and the aforementioned four USB 2.0 ports.
Given that the IP35 Pro does only come with one expansion bracket out of the box it would have been nice to find a few more USB 2.0 ports on the I/O panel (so you are getting 6 out of 10 possible ports out of the box). Nevertheless the Abit IP35 Pro is still a good buy at $185 but it becomes more apparent why this motherboard is cheaper when compared to the high-end ASUS and Gigabyte boards. This does not necessarily make the IP35 Pro a lesser option as the PCI LAN controller and 4-phase power design are yet to show any problems.