Basic Features

This board is designed around Intel's flagship i975X chipset with one purpose in mind, the ability to let your Core Duo or Solo processor reach its maximum potential while still maintaining the low noise and power consumption benefits of this impressive processor series. It is the only true ATX size board on the market at this time featuring a non-mobile chipset for the Intel Core Duo/Solo series processors.

If our test results are a true indication of the performance potential of the upcoming Conroe and Merom processors, then we foresee a sizable interest within the AMD community for taking another look at Intel based products in the near future. The Conroe/Merom processors should realize a performance improvement of around 15% above the current AMD lineup. An excellent overview of the Core architecture and comparison to the current AMD offerings is located here - Intel Core versus AMD K8 by Johan De Gelas.

If nothing else, the overall platform performance of the Intel Core Duo and AOpen i975Xa-YDG should convince anyone seriously considering building an ultra quiet performance oriented game or HTPC system to think at length about purchasing this combination.

AOpen i975Xa-YDG
Component Description
CPU Interface Socket 479 - Intel Core Duo or Core Solo
Chipset Intel 975X - Northbridge
Intel ICH7 - Southbridge
Front Side Bus 667 / 533 MHz
CPU Clock 166MHz ~ 199MHz in 1MHz increments
Jumper change allows 200MHz ~ 320MHz in 1MHz increments
Memory Speeds Auto, 533MHz, 667MHz, standard multipliers apply to overclocks
PCI Bus Speeds Locked
PCI Express Bus Speeds Auto, 100MHz ~ 160MHz in 1Mhz increments
Set Processor Multiplier Locked to CPU
Core Voltage Auto, .7375V to 1.5000V in 0.0125V increments
DRAM Voltage Auto, 1.80V to 2.15V in .05V increments
Northbridge Voltage Auto, 1.525V, 1.575V, 1.625V, 1.675V
PCI-E Voltage Auto, 1.500V ~ 1.700V in various increments
Memory Slots (4) x DIMM, max. 4GB, DDR2 667/533, non-ECC or ECC support
Expansion Slots (2) x PCI-E x16
(operates in 2x8 mode in dual graphics or CrossFire mode)
(2) x PCI-E x1
(2) x PCI 2.3
Onboard SATA Intel ICH7 - Southbridge
(4) x SATA 3Gb/s
JMicron- JMB360
(1) x External SATA 3Gb/s
Onboard IDE Intel ICH7 - Southbridge
(1) x 100/66/33
ITE IT8212 IDE
(1) x 133/100/66/33
IDE RAID ITE IT8212 IDE
(2) x 133/100/66/33
RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1
Onboard USB2.0 (8) USB2.0 ports
Onboard IEEE-1394 Agere 1394A - FW3226-100
Onboard LAN Marvell 88E8053 PCI-Express x1
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC-880, 8-channel capable High Definition Audio
Power Connectors 24-pin ATX
4-pin 12V
4-pin ATX 12V
Back Panel I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x PS/2 Mouse
1 x IEEE-1394
1 x External SATA 3Gb/s
1 x Optical S/PDIF - In
1 x Optical S/PDIF -Out
1 x Audio I/O Panel
1 x RJ45
4 x USB
Other Features (C.O.O.) - Code of Overclocking System
AOConfig - Windows based System Information Utility
EZ Skin - Windows based Jukebox Player
C.O.O. Paradise Utility - Windows based utility for Remote Control, real time information
Remote Control - I.R. based remoter control unit for basic media player, on/off, and FSB overclocking control
EZWin Flash - Windows Based Bios Update Program
BIOS 1.03b


The AOpen i975Xa-YDG is a member of AOpen's Mobile on Desktop Technology Series product family and as such is a board targeted towards both the HTPC and enthusiast user. The board ships with an accessory package that includes the standard assortment of IDE/SATA cables, power connectors, CPU heatsink/fan, and a unique Remote Control unit. AOpen also includes a driver CD along with several desktop utilities for Windows based monitoring and tuning of your system.





AOpen ships the motherboard and related components in an eye catching box that certainly plays on the Star Wars theme. We will find out shortly if this board is truly worthy of Darth Maul status or if we have another Jar Jar Binks wannabe in the labs.

Index Board Layout
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81 Comments

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  • Per Hansson - Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - link

    Hi Gary, just wanted to drop in and give you a kudos on this very nice review!

    It also makes me smile to finally see Intel catching up with AMD, this can only be good news for the customer...

    And a small heads up, there are a few Intel Core Duo Engineering sample CPU's on sale at eBay, "hint hint engineering sample=multipler unlocked"

    And also a big thanks for finally posting those capacitor shots and mentioning them, keep up the good work!

    Also I think Aopen deserves recognition for designing a mainboard with so high-quality components, Rubycon=Way to go!!!
    Reply
  • goinginstyle - Friday, May 19, 2006 - link


    quote:

    Hi Gary, just wanted to drop in and give you a kudos on this very nice review!


    Agreed....

    Reply
  • vailr - Thursday, May 04, 2006 - link

    Updated driver:
    (from: http://www.station-drivers.com/page/intechip.htm)">http://www.station-drivers.com/page/intechip.htm)
    Intel Chipset software Installation Utility
    Version 7.3.1.1013 - Windows 2000/XP 32/64bits/2003Server Multi Langues & officiel
    ftp://aiedownload.intel.com/df-support/10392/eng/i...">ftp://aiedownload.intel.com/df-support/10392/eng/i...

    Version 8.0.0.1005 Alpha
    Windows 2000/XP 32/64bits/2003Server Multi Langues & non officiel
    http://www.station-drivers.com/telechargement/inte...">http://www.station-drivers.com/telechargement/inte... Alpha.exe
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, May 04, 2006 - link

    Thank you for posting these links. :) We have a policy of utilizing the latest driver sets on a supplier's website at the time our testing starts, in this case the Intel general download page is still posting the 7.2.2.1006 driver set. However, I am using the 7.3.1 driver set on our retail board sample tonight. ;-) Reply
  • irev210 - Sunday, May 07, 2006 - link

    Hello Gary,

    Sorta funny how that other fellow has absolutely no idea what he is talking about.

    I just wanted to touch upon something that I didnt see get much attention.


    You should have mentioned in your article about how efficient the core architecture is, and how well it scales with increased frequency. The chip turns into a total monster once you get past 3ghz, and continues to perform better and better as you increase the speed. The fastest I could get on air was around 3.1ghz. I wouldnt be afraid to crank the volts to the 1.5 max on the aopen board... with a different cooler, you should hit some nice speeds. Try swapping out for a zalman 9500, or a big typhoon.

    The shortfalls, are as you mentioned the southbridge lacking raid, and the poor bios options. Vcore should let us up to 1.65-1.7, while Vdimm should let us do atleast 2.3.

    While this may not satisfy the most serious enthusiast, this board does fill a nice niche. The price is pretty high, but core duo CPU's can be had on the cheap, which makes up for it. For someone that is worried about their electric bill, and wants performance and performance per watt, this is a great alternative.

    For others who must have the fastest. This just makes them drool. This is the low end of the core architecture. Merom and Conroe to follow... we shall be stunned.

    Consdering Meroms being tested now at 3.0Ghz are faster than 3.2Ghz Yonah's... AND YOU WILL SEE Conroe EE at 3.33 w/ a 1333fsb doing 4ghz w/ 1500mhz FSB :)


    For those that dont get it yet... AMD will need a AM2 processor running at about oh 4.8Ghz to beat a 4Ghz clocked conroe :)

    Good things to come. I take no sides, im just excited about new stuff :)






    Reply
  • Marlowe - Thursday, May 04, 2006 - link

    How come a ~1 % cpu usage translates into a massiv 20 fps drop in BF2? Looks like EA have a deal with Creative :(

    A lot of world records have been beaten with this mobo already over here at XS :)
    coolaler even got SLI enabled on it ;) also running a merom in it ;)

    Your 266 FSB is very good and about normal for aircooling. Give it some cold and it will go further ;)
    Reply
  • Frumious1 - Thursday, May 04, 2006 - link

    [font color="#000000] (Damn white text. Nice comment engine AnandTech.... Need a new programmer?)

    Because RightMark is a theoretical test and not actually a real game or audio application. Also, look at the 3D/EAX scores - it's more than 1% CPU usage, but still less than 20% or whatever.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, May 04, 2006 - link

    quote:

    How come a ~1 % cpu usage translates into a massiv 20 fps drop in BF2? Looks like EA have a deal with Creative :(


    It has to do with the Realtek driver load and Creatives to some extent being split between the cores during the RightMark testing. I noted in the text that although the cpu utilization is extremely low in our Rightmark results due to the load balancing that the actual game results (percentage differences) were basically the same as our single core scores. The drop in BF2 is due to the audio algorithms being generated by the CPU rather in hardware as on the X-FI card. Our audio settings in BF2 are set to hardware, medium quality, EAX enabled, the high quality setting extracts another 6FPS but we generally have not noticed an increase in audio quality. This is one penalty you pay for on-board audio in a CPU limited game although Serious Sam II is the one exception for either solution.

    We are hoping to receive a T2700 chip from Intel shortly and will "chill" it to see what results come from it. :) Yes, we had SLI working on the board also, but that is a topic that will be buried with Jimmy Hoffa at this time. ;-)
    Reply
  • NT78stonewobble - Friday, May 05, 2006 - link

    Intriguing last 2 sentences.

    The comments section has some really good info alot of the time :).

    And kudos for bringing into the review something about the penalty for using onboard audio versus dedicated hardware.

    You're not by any chance planning on writing something about audio quality some-time? Not that im an audiophile or the like, just curious.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Friday, May 05, 2006 - link

    quote:

    You're not by any chance planning on writing something about audio quality some-time? Not that im an audiophile or the like, just curious.


    We will expand our audio section in the next update to our motherboard review section. We are looking at several variations of the review process as we enter a very busy time of the year with AM2, Conroe, and others all launching over the next 90 days. :)
    Reply

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