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Aopen AK77 Plus Motherboard Review

Aopen AK77 Plus Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: This good looking jet-black motherboard from Aopen is the hallmark of a new trend in motherboards - designer colours!
 83% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Aopen Jan 15 2002   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Aopen AK77 Plus

Socket and Heatsink Mounts

Have you ever wanted to use a large heatsink on your Athlon XP? If so, you know the importance of clearance around the processor socket, and the need for mounting holes (standard on most motherboards these days). Users looking to strap on a Swiftech or Zalman will absolutely need the four holes, which on the AK7Plus measure 6mm in diameter. Clearance for the Swiftech at least may be tight as there are several large capacitors located in the vicinity of the processor socket.

Getting out the ruler we can see that there is about 5-6mm of clearance on either side of the socket from where the clips are. On the opposite sides there is at least 20mm of clearance for a total possible heatsink length of 95mm.

Just adjacent to the processor socket is a small dip switch that controls the processor clock ratio if you want to lock it in. The settings can also be adjusted in the BIOS up to 12.5X.

The processor socket is located clips are located close to the ATX power connector and a handful of 2200 micro farad capacitors. Given the small amount of space this leaves to maneuverer the clip the AK77Plus works best with heatsinks that use a screwdriver to engage the clip - as this gives you more room, and seemed t be a bit easier for use to work with.

At the very least the ATX power connector is not positioned so that the cables drape all over the heatsink, and at the very worst the wires may get a bit dusty from the exhaust air. I don't believe they will pose much of a problem for the heatsink in terms of air flow.

Almost forgot to mention the little yellow bit of tuff plastic under the clip which helps to prevent heatsink installation from damaging the PCB - good to see AOpen keeps an eye on the little things.

Overclocking, Safeguards

AOpen have included something called "watchdog timer" with the AK77Plus that basically kicks in when the system is overclocked. If the system is too unstable to pass the BIOS POST, the timer will reset, and reboot within five seconds, giving you another opportunity to go at it.

Heat is a killer, and a motherboard without enough places to plug in fans isn't of much use. Consequently, we are seeing most boards these days come with at least three fan headers. However since the active cooler on the Northbirdge uses one of the, this effectively leaves you with just two, one for the processor, and one by the base of the board for a system fan or GPU cooler perhaps.

On a side note, those big Delta fans that draw 0.81Amps should be connected to the powersupply by molex pass through - I've been hearing a few stories about boards burning out over time but have never experienced this first hand so keep that in mind.

Finally, on the long list of safeguards we have two more power related features. The first is a little red LED at the base of the board that tells you if power is still going through the components. It's always a good idea to fully unplug your system if you are adding or removing components, and this little LED servers as a visual reminder.

The other component is one we're not too familiar with, but that caught our interest so I'll make brief mention of it. A resettable fuse is not something one would immediately think about when looking at a motherboard, but all system boards have fuses of one type or another. The fuse protects the mainboard from over-currents or shortages to the USB or keyboard ports. Of the two types of fuse, the AK77Plus uses a resettable version. The alternate version, like the kind you may have in your house, burns out and needs to be unsoldered and replaced, where as the resettable version will resume normal function afterward.

The resettable fuse works on a positive polymeric temperature coefficient (PPTC) and consists of conductive carbon black particles. Under allowable operating conditions, the strings of carbon particles conduct current while exhibiting a very low internal resistance. When the fuse is tripped or fault current is exceeded, the particle strings break up and disburse randomly, followed by a rise in internal component resistance of several orders of magnitude. This rapid increase in resistance limits current flow to nearly zero effectively protecting the mainboard circuitry. When the fault subsides or power is removed, the fuse cools and resets returning to it’s pre-tripped state. (source: Wickmann)

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Contents of Article: Aopen AK77 Plus
 Pg 1.  Aopen AK77 Plus Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — Socket and Heatsink Mounts
 Pg 3.  Northbridge Heatsink
 Pg 4.  Test system specs and benchmarks
 Pg 5.  Sandra, 3DMark2001, Conclusions

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