AOpen AK79D-400 Max Motherboard Review
With the K7
near the end of its lifespan, it seems as if every mainboard manufacturer
worth its salt is making one last big push with socket A boards. Since nVIDIA
recently rehashed the highly successful nForce2-SPP chipset under the moniker of
the new nForce2 Ultra 400 name there is no better time than
Of course you'll recall
that nVidia's nForce2-SPP chipset officially supported the 400 MHz based AthlonXP processors, but
it was starting to get old (nForce2 has been around for about 11
months already!) so it was time for a refresh. When nVIDIA released the C1 stepping of the nForce2 they decided to rename the
chip the "nForce2 Ultra 400." I suppose any new stepping technically deserves a new
review, PCstats will be testing out the spiffy AOpen AK79D-400
Max mainboard which, obviously, uses the "new and improved"
nForce2-Ultra 400 chipset. The Ultra
name may be more symbolic than descriptive, but I would
expect a little extra performance over stock nForce 2 chipsets at the very
least - maybe even a little higher overclocking potential?
Motherboard manufacturers have never
packed so much into their products. These days if a board is
sparse in terms of features, it's frowned upon. AOpen packs quite a bit
into their AK79D-400 Max so critics remain content. The AK79D-400 includes Serial ATA/Serial ATA
RAID, an additional Ultra/133 IDE channel, 5.1 audio (nVIDIA SoundStorm - the good stuff!),
IEEE 1394, 10/100 LAN and dual BIOS's.
The five PCI slots should keep you happy for future expansion and the three
DIMM's support up to 3GB of PC1600/2100/2700/3200 DDR memory. The board can be used
with 200/266/333/400 MHz FSB based Athlon processors.
Ships with the following:
- Ultra/133 Cables
- Serial ATA Cables
- FDD Cable
- Driver CD
- Serial ATA Driver Disk
- I/O Back Plate
- Users Manual
- Quick Installation Guide
- Norton Anti Virus 2003
USB 2.0 Bracket
The layout of the AK79D-400 Max is identical to
that of the AK79G-Max which PCStats reviewed
earlier this year. It's not surprising as the the only real difference is the update
nForce2-Ultra 400 chipset.
The general layout of the motherboard
is pretty good, it's nice to see AOpen have placed the floppy and main
ATX power connectors to the right of the DIMM slots. Since the MCP-T Southbridge
generates a lot of heat, it's reassuring to see a small passive heatsink
I'm very happy to see that board is bundled
with useful software - hopefully this will be a growing trend. AOpen include
Norton AntiVirus 2003 (IMO the best Antivirus software) along with the AK79D-400Max. With the number
of viruses floating around the internet, a good virus protection program is just
one less thing to worry about.
I was also
pleased at how detailed the accompanying documentation was. Novice
should have no problems installing the motherboard if they
have to reference the manual for advice.
Unfortunately, AOpen did not address
the few issues we brought up when we reviewed the virtually identical AK79G Max mainboard
previously. First and foremost, is the way the CMOS battery is oriented; standing up
on edge via three solder points means that it's very fragile and could
potentially get snapped off easily.
sure why AOpen decided to equip the northbridge with a passive
heatsink instead of an active one... The nForce2 chipset can generate a lot
of heat under intensive applications and this seems a bit counter productive.