Aopen AX6C Motherboard Evaluation

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The Aopen AX6C appears to be an exceptionally stable and reliable motherboard, making it a very good choice for those who require these attributes. While some may not appreciate the on-board audio, most business users do not require a high-end sound card on their system. For many, the convenience of integrated audio will likely outweigh any issues to the contrary – and the AMR slot provides some additional flexibility as well.

Overclockers may find this board somewhat interesting, due to the independent setting of CPU speed and DRDRAM speed. Both use the same FSB setting, but Aopen has implemented a technology which allows the multiplier to be set independently for both these components. It is therefore theoretically possible to run your 533MHz processor at 600MHz (150MHz x 4 vs. 133MHz x 4), while still running the RDRAM at 800MHz (150MHz x 5.33)

All-in-all, we are very impressed with the AX6C motherboard for it’s stability, reliability and feature set. In fact, the only downside we can come up with is the high cost of DRDRAM. This issue alone will likely prevent the majority of users from considering this product, however, with the cost of DRDRAM expected to fall by as much as 50% over the next several months, it may become a much more feasible option in the near future.

Based upon our tests, we have the following set of recommendations:

  • DRDRAM is very expensive and has had it’s share of problems. For maximum reliability, make sure that your modules use Samsung chips and are from the same manufacturer. The reason for this is that Samsung chips were used to qualify the chipset, and at this early stage you may be asking for trouble with anything else. If you do decide to purchase modules based on another manufacturers chips, make sure that they have been fully tested and validated in an i820 based motherboard – and that you get an iron-clad warranty from the vendor.
  • Unless you are very familiar with your memory, and the various timings only the ‘Optimal’ and ‘Fail Safe’ defaults should be used in the BIOS for the memory timings. If you are sure that your DRDRAM can handle it, you might consider tweaking the RDRAM ratio for better performance.
  • Be sure to remember to install the CRIMM modules in any empty RIMM slot. Failure to do so will cause the board to appear dead. This is surprisingly easy to overlook if you are used to dealing with ‘normal’ motherboards, and can cause some slightly raised blood pressure to occur. It will also prevent you from erroneously calling the vendor and cussing him out for sending a dead board, and having to wait several days (or weeks) only to have them install the CRIMM for you.

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