AOpen AK89 Max: From Ugly Duckling to Swanby Wesley Fink on April 21, 2004 4:16 PM EST
- Posted in
AOpen AK89 Max: Basic FeaturesThe AK89 Max is the top model in the AK89 series. There are also two other versions of the AK89 board with reduced features, namely the AK89-L and AK89-N, but not all versions are available in all markets. The AK89 MAX is the only version of the 3 that includes SATA, Firewire, and a special PCI slot with an independent Power Supply.
|AOpen AK89 Max Motherboard Specifications|
|CPU Interface||Socket 754 Athlon 64|
|Bus Speeds||200MHz to 250MHz (in 1MHz increments)|
|PCI/AGP Speeds||Adjustable. 66 to 100 in 1 MHz increments|
|Available CPU Ratios||CPU ratios below rated multiplier can be selected in the range of 4x-16x|
|Core Voltage||Normal, 0.8V to 1.55V in .025V increments|
|DRAM Voltage||Normal, 2.50V to 2.80V in 0.05V increments|
|AGP Voltage||1.5V, 1.533V, 1.566V, 1.6V|
|Memory Slots||Three 184-pin DDR DIMM Slots
Regular Unbuffered Memory to 2GB Total
|Expansion Slots||1 AGP 8X Slot
5 PCI Slots (1 Special PCI with Power Supply)
|Onboard Serial ATA RAID||Silicon Image 3114 (4 Drives, 0, 1, 0+1)|
|Onboard IDE||Two Standard nVidia ATA133/100/66 (4 drives)|
|Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394||6 USB 2.0 ports
Two FireWire ports provided by Agere FW323
|Onboard LAN||Realtek RTL8110S Gigabit LAN|
|Onboard Audio||Realtek ALC655 codec AC '97 2.3
6-Channel with UAJ
|BIOS Revision||1.06M (4/12/2004)
"Die-Hard II" Dual BIOS
The packaging is the same green on white theme that we first saw in the AK86-L review.
As a top-end AOpen board, you get the full range of features including SilentTek smart fan controller to lower system noise, the Die-Hard Dual BIOS similar to that seen on Gigabyte top-end boards, EZWin Flash for BIOS updates from Windows, Watch Dog for recovering from bad overclocks, and the EzClock utility for overclocking while in Windows.
AOpen includes a full set of black cables to match the motherboard. Also included are 3 accessory brackets that provide 2 firewire slots, 2 additional USB and a game port, and a 4 port digital/optical IO bracket. We were also happy to see that AOpen included a floppy with the Silicon Image SATA drivers. Many manufacturers have started leaving this necessity out of the box, forcing the installer to find another PC to create the install floppy.
We often see Illustrated Easy Installation Guides included in boards from the top motherboard manufacturers. The purpose of the quick guide is to describe all the ports clearly to allow complete board installation without having to refer to the manual. AOpen does one of the best jobs here, since all ports and jumpers are clearly illustrated and described. The thick manual allows users to find more detail and includes complete information on how to get Technical Support and how to contact AOpen.
The AK89 Max back panel includes 4 USB 2.0 ports, 3 individual mini-jacks for audio, Gigabit LAN, PS2 mouse/keyboard ports, Parallel, and 2 serial ports. There are additional headers on the motherboard for the 3 included accessory brackets.
The nVidia nForce3-150 is a single-chip chipset with a 600 Hyper Transport speed and very few features built into the chipset. Details of the nF3-150 architecture were covered in our Athlon64 motherboard launch review. A large passive heatsink is used on the nF3-150 instead of an active solution used in some other designs. However, we did not have any overheating problems in our benchmarking or overclocking tests of the AK89 Max.
The Silicon Image 3114 provides 4 SATA connectors and SATA RAID 0, 1, and 0+1 capabilities.
The AOpen AK89 Max uses the Realtek audio codec called ALC655, which is compliant with the latest AC '97 Rev. 2.3. This audio codec features 6-channel sound and UAJ or Universal Audio Jack, with a better than 90db signal-to-noise ratio. This allows automatic jack programming as we've seen on boards based on Intel's 865/875 chipsets. The ALC655 is quite similar to the Realtek premium ALC658 sound solution. Additional information and specifications are available at Realtek.
An SPDIF bracket is included in the AK89 Max package, providing both coaxial and optical IO connections.
AOpen provides five fan headers on the AK89 Max, which should handle just about anything you can think of doing with fans and fan control. Fans can be controlled with "Silent Tek" in the AK89 Max BIOS.
The AK89 Max includes Realtek 8110S Gigabit LAN. Dual color LEDs in the LAN socket indicate 10/100 or Gigabit operation.
Three DIMM slots support standard unbuffered Single-Channel memory. AOpen claims support for up to 2GB of DDR400 memory in 2 DIMMs, and up to 3GB of DDR333 or slower memory in 3 DIMMs.
Dual BIOS is very useful for recovering from a bad BIOS flash, a far too common reason for motherboard failure. AOpen and Gigabyte are two companies that provide this feature on their top motherboards. AOpen call their dual bios solution "Die Hard II".