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AOpen AX3S Pro

Heir To The BX: 18 Pentium III Motherboards Using The 815 Chipset
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Board Revision: 1
BIOS Version: 1.02 (July 7, 2000)

Motherboards of Aopen's Pro series always come with great features and the golden chipset cooler, which make the AOpen boards look different. Besides the common hardware (5 PCI, CNR, 3 DIMM, AC97 sound, UltraATA/100), the AX3S Pro comes with AOpen's 'Die Hard BIOS', which basically is a dual BIOS. A little jumper on the lower left edge lets you chose whether you want to boot from the primary or the backup ROM. All actual shipments of this motherboard include a lever (so-called controller ) which has been mounted into a slot cover. If your BIOS upgrade fails or a virus destroys it, you don't even have to open the case any more. Just put the lever in the opposite position to change the active Flash ROM.

The on-board AC97 sound system has three internal line-in ports - which are important for users with several multimedia cards. The three DIMM sockets will hold up to 512 MB SDRAM. The AX3S Pro is one of the motherboards that worked with Enhanced Memory Systems' HSDRAM. Actually the AOpen board did not have any difficulties with any of the 8 different DIMMs, which is a respectable result.

AOpen includes an USB adapter cable so that you can use the ports 3 and 4 without additional hardware. The COM2 port is available on the motherboard, but no cable is provided. In my opinion the USB adapter cable is more important than the second serial port, so I can live with that. All AOpen Pro motherboards do also come with a proprietary bus interface called GPIO. AOpen is currently designing hardware adapters that are supposed to make use of it. The interface is supposed to control every kind of external hardware, e.g. a radio control. Basically, you can realize such ideas with PCI hardware as well, but the GPIO would be a much cheaper solution.

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