In early March, AOpen provided me with a pre-production sample of their AX64 Pro motherboard, based upon the VIA Apollo Pro133A (VT82C694X) chipset.
During the past six weeks or so, I’ve been putting this motherboard through its paces, and giving it the ‘twice over’. Since many of the tests I run require several days of continuous operation, a complete test cycle is generally almost two weeks long. Unfortunately, two BIOS updates were necessary, so complete testing took a bit longer than usual.
AOpen is one of the best motherboard manufacturers, in my experience, which means that I expect to have few problems with their products. Because this was a pre-production board, I did have a few issues to deal with, which surprised me. The first problem I encountered was that my Adaptec SCSI controller would not be reinitialized after a ‘warm’ boot (i.e., Windows restart or Ctrl-Alt-Del), resulting in a hang during POST. A BIOS update solved this, however a glitch in the new BIOS prevented Windows 2000 from booting because it was not ACPI compliant! The third BIOS update (rev 1.04) solved these problems, and no others were encountered.
As is their usual practice, AOpen has included some of the best features found on other manufacturers products, as well as adding some of their own innovations. One very useful item is the ‘Die-Hard’ BIOS, which is really two BIOS chips that can be selected via a jumper. In addition, the ‘Battery-less’ design keeps the critical CMOS information intact, even if the battery is completely drained (or not present). Both of these features can be very valuable for those who want the best in system reliability.
Our test system included the following components:
- Aopen AX64 Pro motherboard – provided by Aopen
- Pentium III 500E processor – purchased
- IWill Slocket II – provided by IWill
- 128MB Corsair PC133 SDRAM – provided by Corsair
- W.D 8.4GB UDMA/66 HDD – Purchased
- Diamond Viper V770 Ultra (32MB) – provided by Diamond
- Adaptec AHA-2940UW SCSI Controller – purchased
- Toshiba TA5401B 4x SCSI CDROM – purchased
Software used for evaluation:
- Winstone99 Business Tests (Win98, Win2K) – ZDBOp
- Content Creation 2000 (Win98, Win2K) – ZDBOp
- Burn-in Test (Win98, Win2K) – Passmark
- QuickTech Pro 2000 (Self-booting) – Ultra-X
- RAM Stress Test (Self-booting) – Ultra-X
Diagnostic Hardware used for evaluation:
- PHD Plus – Ultra-X
- PHD PCI – Ultra-X
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