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21 Slot-1 Motherboards using VIA Chipsets

AOpen AX64 Pro

Board Revision: ?

BIOS Version: March 2, 2000

Looking at the hardware, the AOpen motherboard seems to be one out of many. It provides the common three DIMM sockets, one ISA slot, AGP 4x and four PCI slots. In addition, AOpen also integrated the AMR-slot. In my opinion, a fifth PCI slot would have been wiser, since it can be used both for a modem/sound card (like AMR) and for other expansion cards. Of course you will also get Wake On LAN, Wake On Modem and Wake on Timer, which can be quite useful.

AOpen is known for performance and overclocking abilities. This particular model isn't the greatest performer, since the fastest board is 6% ahead. There are certainly some settings, which still can be optimized.

CPU configuration has to be done by setting jumpers for the right FSB. Afterwards, you can select a multiplier within the Chipset Features menu of the Award BIOS. AOpen also provides an item to alter the core voltage. Here you can chose a voltage between 1.3 and 3.5V (in 0.05V instances). Be careful with this option, since you can easily toast your Coppermine or Katmai CPU by choosing the wrong setting. The BIOS lets you raise or lower the memory clock speed by 33 MHz each. Thanks to this, you can run a 133 MHz CPU while using PC100 SDRAM at 100 MHz. Or think about a reversed configuration: 100 MHz CPU and SDRAM running at 133 MHz. In case you should have PCI cards, which require their own IRQ, you may assign one interrupt to every PCI slot if you want.

The AX64 Pro has also been equipped with AC97 sound, including two analog audio inputs. Thanks to the "big" South Bridge (686A), you can use up to four USB ports by default. Two are situated in between the connector panel, while the other two have to be recruited by using the included connector cable. Actually there is no need to complain about the delivery volume, since it includes two IDE cables (one 40 pin, one UDMA/66 80 pin), Norton Crash Guard, Norton Anti Virus and a very detailed manual, which is also suited for beginners.

Last but not least, AOpen makes use of two BIOS chips (upper left corner). The second is merely a backup BIOS, in case the main BIOS gets lost by virus or by a power blackout during the flash process. Just activate the backup BIOS by setting JP30 to 2-3 and you will be able to boot again.