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Aopen AK77 Plus Motherboard Review
Aopen AK77 Plus Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
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

Aopen AK77 Plus Motherboard Review

This good looking jet-black motherboard from Aopen is the hallmark of a new trend in motherboards - designer colours! While this really makes no difference in terms of performance, anything is better than the old brown standard of old.

The AK77Plus is one best looking boards we've seen in a long time - you can never go wrong wearing black I guess. With three 184-pin DIMM's supporting upto 3GB of PC2100 DDRAM the AK77Plus is able to provide a good foundation for an XP, Athlon or Duron processor. Additionally, on board ATA/100 RAID (Promise FastTrak100 Lite) will support RAID 0 for data stripping or RAID 1 for data mirroring if you require a more intensive setup.

IDE RAID has exploded over the last year or so to the point where it now a basic feature - like on board sound. Promise rules this market and offers users RAID 0 or RAID 1 with its FastTrak100 chipset located just below the southbridge. IDE RAID on the AK77Plus will work with ultra ATA100/66/33 drives and brings about two features. The first, known as RAID 0 is data stripping. With data stripping two identical drives are set to read and write in parallel to increase overall performance. The only downside can occur if either one of the drives dies.

The second option, and the one that makes RAID so attractive is RAID 1. With this, two identical drives mirror the data and with load balancing and elevator seek to provide a good fault tolerant solution for entry-level servers or simply data security. It's basically like having a continuous backup drive. If one of the hard drives should fail, the other drive has an exact mirror of the information and can soldier on. When the other drive is replaced, the software that ships with the AK77plus, FastCheck, will rebuild the data.

Aopen AK77 Plus Motherboard
Ships with the following:
  • IDE ATA33 Cable
  • IDE ATA66/100 Cable
  • FDD Cable
  • USB bracket
  • Driver CD-ROM
  • FastTrak100 Driver
  • Norton Antivirus 2001
  • Instructions

The Chipset: VIA KT266A


The VIA Apollo KT266A chipset builds upon the earlier KT266 chipset by introducing tighter timings and deeper queues to help improve memory and system bus performance. The KT266A chipset itself will supports up to 4GB of PC1600 or PC2100 DDR memory although the KK77Plus only supports 3GB worth. The board supports 200/266MHz FSB Athlon and Duron processors by means of a small jumper by the DIMM slots. By default this is set to 200MHz for some un explicable reason.

Additionally, the KT266A chipset provides native support for 4X AGP, ATA 33/66/100, six USB ports and comes with integrated 6 channel AC-97 Audio, Modem, and networking (though not often utilized). The 552-pin BGA chip is accompanied by the VIA VT8233 south bridge and forms the basis for many of today's more performance oriented motherboards.

DDRAM Memory and IDE Connectors

The AK77 Plus can support up to three PC2100 DDRAM modules of 1.0GB in size which sandwich the ATX power connector between the processor socket at the top of the motherboard.

It's nice to see that all the IDE and FDD cable connectors have been located at the top of the board and are thus out the way in terms of PCI cards and accessible to even the tallest of cases (ie. the HX08). It can get a bit tricky when you have four IDE cable connectors side by side, but so long as you are not constantly moving cables around you should survive. Personally, I've always preferred when the IDE connectors are in groups of two, side by side as it makes it generally easier to get at them.

One very important jumper that everyone should be aware of on the AK77Plus is located just between the blue IDE connector and the 3rd DIMM slot. This little yellow jumper controls the FSB (Front Side Bus) that the motherboard operates at. Moving the jumper will tell the board to operate at 100MHz FSB or 133MHz FSB.

This jumper comes into play if you are using a Duron processor, an Athlon at 1.0GHz or higher, or an Athlon XP. The Duron works at 100MHz FSB, while the latter two work at full speed with 133MHz. The Duron won't work if the jumper has been set to 133MHz so the default is left at 100MHz. Conversely, an Athlon XP1900+ (for instance), will be underclocked if the jumper is left in the default position. This is what we did by mistake while we were reviewing this board - embarrassing but true. If there is something to overlook on this board, Jumper #21 is it. :)

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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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