Introduction

Stepping into 2001, VIA released a “fine-tuned” version of the KT133 chipset, known as the KT133A. The KT133A's major improvement over the original was the officially supported 133MHz DDR (effectively 266 MHz) FSB frequency for the Athlon platform.  This was not possible with the KT133 chipset, which was designed only for 100 MHz operation and when overclocked tops out around 115MHz.  That means overclocking by increasing the FSB speed has not been a good option for AMD processors. 

But with the new KT133A chipset the power of AMD processors was truly unleashed quite a few motherboard manufacturers were forced to bring KT133A solutions to the market. With DDR SDRAM continuing to carry a small but noticeable price premium over PC133 SDRAM, the KT133A chipset is a very attractive solution and some boards have already started to appear online.

While there seems to be very few reasons for any motherboard manufacturer continue to build boards around the "old" KT133 chipset, AOpen has released yet another KT133 based solution--the AK73-1394.  The release of this motherboard comes just weeks after the release of another KT133 solution from AOpen, the AK73 Pro.  So what can this new KT133 motherboard provide?  And most important, can this motherboard compete with other KT133A motherboards that will be appearing in the market soon?  Let’s take a look at the AK73-1394 to find out.

AOpen AK73-1394

CPU Interface
Socket-A
Chipset
VIA KT133
Form Factor
ATX
Bus Speeds

100 / 102 / 104 / 106 / 107 / 108 / 109 / 110 / 111 / 112 / 113 / 114 / 115 / 116 / 118 / 120 MHz

Voltages Supported

Auto Detect 1.100 - 1.850 V (in 0.025V increments)

Memory Slots
3 168-pin DIMM Slots
Expansion Slots

1 AGP Slot
5 PCI Slots (5 full length)
1 AMR Slot
0 ISA Slots

On-board Audio
AD 1885 AC 97 CODEC
BIOS

Award Modular BIOS 6.00PGN

BIOS Revision
R 1.02 (12/22/2000)

Looking at the same PCB?

Lay the AK73-1394 and the AK73 Pro side by side and you will notice that the layouts of the boards look awfully similar.  The only exceptions, if you got really picky, would be the color of the PCB and the heat sink on the North Bridge, and the choice of some capacitors. 

This does not mean that AOpen is has gotten lazy, but rather they planned ahead with the original design of the AK73 Pro.  There are several advantages in doing that.  For starters, this gave them the flexibility to add in new components easily without the need to spend the time and money in redesigning the whole motherboard.  Secondly, AOpen now can sit tight, look at the market and their sales on the first release of the KT133 motherboard, and decide if it is worthwhile to add in those new components.

This PCB design has a decent layout.  With a PCB of around 12 by 9 inches, AOpen made very good judgments in the placement of components.  The placement of the power supply connector prevents the power cables from running around the CPU, which may block airflow when installed in a case.  The IDE connectors are right in front of the DIMM slots, so they will not block any potential add-in cards.  Moreover, the placement of the DIMM slots will ensure that the AGP video card, after being seated in the AGP slot, will not affect the installation of any memory.

The same ol' overclocking features

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