AOpen's first Athlon 64 motherboard, the AK86-L, was based on the VIA K8T800 chipset. After going through several BIOS updates, the AK86-L emerged as our Editor's Choice for Best Value in Athlon 64 motherboards. When AOpen's second Socket 754 board began appearing in the US market, we were interested in taking a closer look.

The AOpen AK89 Max, as suggested by the model number, is a premium board compared to the AK86-L. Based on the nVidia nForce3-150 chipset, the AK89 Max is loaded with features, including 4-drive SATA, Firewire, and the dual-chip die-hard BIOS. For those not familiar with the company, AOpen is the components division of Acer, the huge company that has their hand in many consumer electronics markets. They produce motherboards, chipsets with their ALI brand, optical drives, displays, memory, and many other components.

Just to clear the air from the start, we were very disappointed with the AK89 Max when we first began testing. The Front Side Bus was limited to 250, and the Clock Gen utility for nForce3 from www.wcpuid.com would not even work with the shipping BIOS. The AGP/PCI lock present in the BIOS seemed to stop functioning as soon as multipliers were selected. While the AK89 Max with the shipping BIOS was very stable, the most interesting options either didn't work or they exhibited very limited ranges.

However, AOpen supplied 2 BIOS upgrades during the course of the review, and this dramatically improved the flexibility and capabilities of the board. It was almost as if the AK89 Max grew from the ugly duckling into a swan.

AOpen AK89 Max: Basic Features
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  • cowdog - Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - link

    I have had a very different tech support experience with AOpen and my AK89 Max. I have filled every online tech support option through the AOpen website over the past 4 weeks or so and have yet to receive any kind of reponse. I have additionally sent email and posted on the AOpen support forum.

    My negative AOpen customer service goes back to buying the board with an AOpen rebate. After numerous calls trying to obtain the rebate form, I twice talked to someone at AOpen who took my email and promised to reply. They never replied.

    I have to wonder about your glowing comments about AOpen's tech support. Either that or I have simply had the worst possible luck.
    Reply
  • Pumpkinierre - Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - link

    Good review Wesley. You should include 3mark 2001 results for the FSB275 (1:1) and 347 async.. I suspect the asynchronous would be disappointing as the RAM is the bottleneck not the ondie mem. controller. Also the FSB200 and 250 results should be run at the same mem. latency (the looser one- CAS3) so that we can see how FSB increase alone affects performance on the a64. Sorry if I sound like your mother but you were missing her anyway.

    Reply
  • Pumpkinierre - Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - link

    test again Reply

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