440BX Motherboard Review - Fall 1998

AOpen AX6B

  • BIOS Version: 1.20 (July 24, 1998)
  • Board Revision: 1.1A
  • External clock speeds: 66, 68, 75, 83, 100, 103, 112, 133 MHz
  • Slots: 4x full size PCI, 3x full size ISA, full size AGP
  • Memory: 4x DIMM

The AOpen board is clearly bigger than most others and I'm happy to see that the floppy connector is not behind the CPU this time. Other AOpen board have the FDD connector behind the CPU, so that the cable may prevent an optimum air flow around the CPU. The connector descriptions for the LED cable, reset or other cables are quite little, but they are present at least. Good is the power switch connector which has been placed away from the other pins, so creating a short circuit is here almost impossible. It's only a pity that there is no third fan connector on this huge board.

AOpen uses jumperless design for months now and as you can imagine it works perfectly. The AX6B allows to freely chose a external clock between 66 and 133 MHz. AOpen also integrated the option to release the USB interrupt. The board is also one of the very exotic ones which supports "suspend to disk" which many of you may know from notebooks. It is also one of two boards in this test that are able to run with my 32 chip PC-66 SDRAM module at 100 MHz FSB! In the meantime I have the impression that boards which run properly with this memory module also run fine with any other SDRAM - and this theory was right, all other memory ran fine at up to 112 MHz. At 133 MHz the system was only able to boot with the 256 MB modules, since they are the only 6 ns memory I have at the moment.

Thanks to the convincing flexibility and features this board is a very good choice and for all who don't insist on maximum performance it is even a recommendation.

Asus P2B

  • BIOS Version: 1005 (July 15, 1998)
  • Board Revision: 1.02
  • External clock speeds: 66, 68, 75, 83, 100, 103, 112, 133 MHz
  • Slots: 4x full size PCI, 3x full size ISA, full size AGP
  • Memory: 3x DIMM

The Asus P2B is the classic Slot-1 BX motherboard. It's actually not necessary to mention that it performs very well in all benchmarks. Asus also placed a third fan connector to enable using two chassis fans.

I did not face any problems during my tests: The USB IRQ can be released and every type of SDRAM ran fine at all clock speeds up to 112 MHz. For 133 MHz it had to be the 7 ns LGS memory. Overclockers will also be happy since all external bus speeds can be chosen independently from the CPU. What we still have to criticize are the old fashioned jumpers. The BIOS is ready for some kind of jumperless CPU setup menu, but Asus still doesn't make use of it - why? A high end board should also have four DIMM sockets today. This, a fifth PCI slot and a jumperless setup solution would make this board the absolute winner of this review. Nonetheless it's a very good choice and made it into my recommendation list once again.

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