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   Review : AOpen AX3S Plus »  
 

 

AOpen AX3S Plus
   
 Date  : Aug 6th, 2001
 Category  : Motherboards
 Manufacturer   : AOpen
 Author  : Jin-Wei Tioh
Last November, after quite a fair bit of brouhaha, Intel finally released the long-awaited Pentium 4. However, many parties found its performance in most applications to be abysmal in relation to the AMD Duron, Thunderbird and even the Pentium 3. Not only is the cost of the processor higher, but the Pentium 4 requires the use of RDRAM, which costs roughly 4x as much as standard PC-133 SDRAM. Clearly, with the Pentium 4 not having the right price/performance ratio, the majority of end-users who remain faithful to Intel will have to stick with the Pentium 3 until the launch of the Tualatin processor later this year.

However, according to Intel's latest roadmap, the Pentium 3 family is going to be out of production by the end of August, with the price of the Pentium 4 being lowered to address cost concerns. Although this appears to be the imminent demise of the Socket-370 platform, a few critical factors must still be considered. For starters, Socket-370 motherboards have been firmly entrenched in the market, not to mention the legions of Slot 1 motherboards which in many cases can accept Socket-370 processors by the use of a Slotket (eg. the MSI MS-6905 Master). Next, there is still a fairly large quantity of Pentium 3 processors on the market.

While these factors certainly lend strength to the Socket-370 platform, the newest Socket-370 chipset, the i815E and i815EP are probably the end of the line. The i815E is basically a revised version of the 440BX, with the biggest features being support for a 1/2 AGP multiplier and the ATA-100 protocol. It is quite a good chipset, save for the 512MB memory limitation. The i815EP is the i815E minus the onboard video.

In our first Socket-370 motherboard review, we present AOpen's impressive i815E solution, the AX3S Plus. The high-end i815E/EP motherboard market looks to be an area into which most manufacturers will expand, with ABIT already lining up an equivalent product, the ST6-RAID (we should be receiving an eval unit soon. Stay tuned!). Let's see what feat AOpen's engineering department has achieved :

AOpen AX3S Plus Specifications
CPU Type Socket-370
Chipset Intel i815E (82815E GMCH, 82801BA ICH2)
Form Factor ATX
FSB Speeds 66 - 248 MHz (1MHz increments)
CPU Core Voltages Auto Detect
1.300 - 3.500 V (0.05 V increments)
I/O Voltages 3.3 V
Memory Banks 4 168-pin DIMM Slots
Expansion Slots 1 AGP Slot
6 PCI Slots (4 Full Length)
0 ISA Slots
1 CNR Slot
Integrated Features On-board Audio (Analog Devices AD1885 AC'97 CODEC)
PROMISE FastTrack 100 Lite RAID
BIOS Type Award Modular BIOS 6.00PG
BIOS Revision R1.06

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