i820 Motherboard Roundup - January 2000by Anand Lal Shimpi on January 28, 2000 2:44 AM EST
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Over the next few weeks you will see individual reviews of all of the motherboards covered in this roundup, and, as we publish them, we will add the links to the reviews in this section However, until then, here are brief looks at all of the motherboards present in this roundup.
AOpen AX6C & AX6C-L
AOpen has always produced very solid motherboards and they continue their strong tradition with the two entries supplied for this roundup. The AX6C was AOpen’s original i820 solution and it was one of the first i820 based motherboards to ever come into the lab. Unfortunately, because of the layout issue with 3 RIMMs, AOpen was forced to re-design the AX6C and outfit it with only 2 DIMMs.
Though, instead of scrapping the AX6C, AOpen decided to leave it as is and produce another motherboard, the AX6C-L, with only 2 RIMM slots. AOpen’s internal testing proved that the presence of the 3rd RIMM slot on the AX6C didn’t adversely affect its stability and thus they saw no reason to deprive their customers of the third RIMM slot if they desired one.
Our tests tended to agree with AOpen; the addition of the 3rd RIMM slot didn’t seem to change the stability of the AX6C at all from the AX6C-L. However, for those of you that still don’t feel safe with that third RIMM slot there, AOpen offers the AX6C-L which is the exact same board, minus the third RIMM slot.
AOpen has made their i820 boards very appetizing to the hardware enthusiast population as they offer the most flexibility out of all of the boards in this roundup. This flexibility comes in the form of the jumperless frequency and voltage control options present within the boards’ AWARD BIOS Setup utility (v6.00).
Not only does AOpen offer a decent selection of FSB settings, they also allow for the RDRAM clock multiplier to be set independently of the FSB setting. This allows you to increase your FSB setting without worrying about your RDRAM being overclocked to speeds it cannot handle. The AOpen boards are the only ones capable of doing this but now that the secret is out, don’t be surprised if others follow in their footsteps.
The AX6C and AX6C-L both provided the stability and reliability we’re used to from AOpen which gave these boards some of the highest stability ratings in this roundup.