AOpen showed us how quality can effect the overall experience we will have with their products with the AX5T, lets see how well their AX6F stacks up against the competition.


Motherboard Specifications

Socket Style: Slot-1
Chipset: i82440LX
Cache: N/A (On Chip)
Form Factor: ATX
BUS Speeds: 66 / 68 / 75 / 83 MHz
Clock Multipliers: 1.5x - 8.0x
Voltages Supported: 1.5v - 3.5v (Auto Detect)
RAM Slots: 4 168pin DIMM Slots (EDO/ECC/SDRAM)
AGP/PCI/ISA Slots: 1 AGP Slot
4 PCI Slots
3 ISA Slots (1 Shared / 3 Full Length)
BIOS: AWARD PnP BIOS w/ Jumperless CPU Setup
PCI EIDE Controller: Super I/O
2 EIDE Channels
1 FDD Channel
2 Serial /1 EPP

 


The Good

AOpen had a fairly good product on their hands with the AOpen AX6F, however there was much room for improvement. This time around, AOpen, equipped with the advanced features of the LX chipset, and a bit more experience with the Pentium II Slot 1 architecture, produced an utterly awesome product, the AX6L.

Why on Earth would a company decrease the quality of a motherboard when they add the features of a new and improved chipset? Most manufacturers haven't realized that we need more than 3 DIMM slots and more than 2 ISA slots for a LX based Pentium II motherboard, fortunately, AOpen has. They managed to release a board based on Intel's latest and greatest, the long awaited LX, chipset early on without making any sacrifices to quality or features, two of the most important areas when considering a motherboard. Any company can make speed their ultimate goal, however what good is speed if you have no peripherals to take advantage of it with? It is ridiculous for a manufacturer to expect us to settle with degraded features in order to receive the absolute best in quality and absolute latest in technology, a marketing decision like that is absurd. AOpen took their amazing feature set, mostly surrounded by its excellent power saving features and intelligent mainboard functions as well as its rock solid stability and improved on it by taking the largest step they have ever made in their history...

This jump? More like a leap, a leap onto the ever growing bandwagon of jumperless motherboards, a feature pioneered by such companies as ABIT and QDI. When dealing with the Pentium II it is so very easy to incorporate a jumperless CPU setup that I would be quite surprised if a manufacturer chose to do otherwise. However, unlike other Pentium II motherboards the AX6L has much more support for the upcoming Pentium II's. The AX6L's switching voltage regulators all allow for full support for the Pentium II - 333 due out later this year which may require a lower voltage if our prayers are answered, not only does it support the Pentium II 333's supposed clock multiplier of 5.5x it also provides built in support for multipliers up to a whopping 8.0x!!! Couple that with its 83.3MHz bus speed support and you have the possibility of running a Pentium II 666 on this board (uh oh...that number doesn't seem too "friendly" if you know what I mean...burn burn hot hot, not a pleasant thought =) ) In any case, its doubtful that you will ever use that 8.0x setting, but the 6.0x setting might prove to be useful in the future especially for some really serious overclocking.

4 DIMM slots, thank you! Yes, AOpen realized, unlike most manufacturers, that the market doesn't really have the money to buy 128MB SDRAM DIMMs and we are stuck, for the most part, with 32 and 64MB modules and three DIMM slots isn't enough!! With 4 - 32MB DIMMs you can easily fill the AX6L with a nice combination of 128MB of SDRAM, now if you have 4 - 64MB modules laying around...well...that should make that NT transition even easier =)

The manual, classic of AOpen boards is very in depth and well written, it even goes as far as to document and describe each aspect of the motherboard in much greater detail than most manuals. If it were a bit easier to follow for the novice user I would even go as far as to say that is rivals the ABIT quality of manuals, however it may not be that well written it does come very close.

Performance wise, the AX6L is about on par with the Chaintech 6LTM, and a little slower than the ASUS P2L97. After receiving a genuine Intel Pentium II - 300, I was surprised to find out that it, like the 266 and 233, didn't support clock multipliers greater than 4.5x. However, that didn't stop me from trying 83.3 x 4.5...which worked flawlessly!!! Upon bootup at 375MHz, the AX6L's BIOS reports the CPU clock speed as being 366MHz, however in all actuality it is running at a screaming 375MHz! Also, with the genuine 300, the 83.3 x 4.0 and 75 x 4.5 settings were quite easy to achieve. Take a look at the updated scores below in The Test.Overall the AX6L is one of the best Pentium II LX boards out, although that isn't saying much now, I believe it will hold its ground along side the Chaintech 6LTM and possibly even ASUS' LX boards as well as Supermicro's series.

The Bad

Since I managed to get the 75 and 83.3MHz Bus Speed settings to work AOpen has surpassed Chaintech at the top of the Pentium II LX motherboard list (at least of those motherboards which I have tested...the ABIT LX6 may compromise this position). AOpen even includes a complimentary copy of Norton Anti-Virus with the motherboard along with some other helpful utilities, not bad at all...more bang for your buck from AOpen.

 


Recommended SDRAM

This little addition to my review layout was put in here just so you all can have an idea of what brand of SDRAM I recommend and have tested
with the board, just to avoid problems in the future if you decide to purchase the board.

Recommended SDRAM: Advanced Megatrends SDRAM; Corsair SDRAM; SmarTech SDRAM
SDRAM Tested: 2 x 32MB Advanced Megatrends SDRAM DIMMs; 2 x 32MB SmarTech SDRAM DIMMs; 2 x 32MB Corsair SDRAM DIMMs

Manufacturer: Corsair Microsystems

Purchase Web-Site: http://www.nf-ny.com

 


IRQ Usage

  • Allows user to individually set IRQs for each Legacy ISA card

  • Allows user to enable the use of an IRQ for PS/2 mouse

  • Allows user to reserve IRQ/DMA Channels if necessary

  • Auto-detects PnP Cards after HDD Detection

 


BIOS Settings

Coming Soon

The Test

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