The kitchen sink and more is included with AOpen's AX4SG Max II. From 6 SATA ports to 7.1 sound to onboard graphics, this board has nearly everything. The 865G platform has taken a back seat to the newer 875 but is still able to pack a punch. This would be a good board for someone who is not concerned with cutting edge, but good speed and great features.
AOpen's Flagship 875P board that's chock full of features running on the i875P, Intel's newest chipset. There is no questioning the impressive feature set but how does it stack against Intel's reference design in terms of speed?
Intel takes their latest chip architecture and adds the top performing MCHs to one set and the lesser MCHs to another. The top end group is labeled 875P with Performance Acceleration Technology (PAT) and the latter and lower performing group is labeled 865PE. As mentioned above, we've had a chance to look at the performance of the 875P chipsets; now we have a chance to look at two boards incorporating the lesser but lower cost 865PE chipsets.
We're going to see some interesting overclocking features from MSI; such as CoreCell technology, and another lesser, but very interesting addition to the board that I'll keep under wraps until later in the article. Also for mod fans there is an interesting twist for the Northbridge cooling system.
The first thing we noticed looking at this board is the colorful layout that has become characteristic with Gigabyte boards. While garish to some, those who have window cases and light mods should enjoy the pastel colors that make up DIMM, IDE and miscellaneous slots and connectors.
Many of you were impressed by the performance of Intel's 7205 "Granite Bay" chipset when we reviewed the MSI GNB Max-FIR - and rightly so, since the GNB combined high performance with a wealth of features. Unfortunately, the GNB, and the 7205 in general, is limited because it really only supports up to DDR266 in Dual Channel Mode. This is why when Sis announced their Sis655 chipset, with full Dual Channel AND DDR400 support, our eyebrows rose up a knotch.
Dual Channel DDR is now one of the topic buzzwords on everyone's mind. Although we've already published reviews of Nvidia's Nforce 2 boards like FIC's AU11 with Dual Channel support, it was actually Intel that first introduced us to DualChannel memory with their E7205 "Granite Bay" chipset.
While DDR400 and official DDR333 support have been explored on the AMD platform, we haven't taken a look at too many more recent P4 boards in a while. Changes have been happening on the P4 front too, and the introduction of chipsets like the Sis648 has marked improvements that mirror changes to the AMD market.
Today we have a unique product on our plate. The first ever consumer motherboard with a vacuum tube as a part of its onboard audio subsystem. This is not only an industry first, its one of the many industry firsts introduced by AOpen.
FIC is another performance motherboard manufacturers who has constantly produced quality motherboards for more than 20 years. Today, they have the VC19, an Intel P4 based board for us to test. Previously, we were able to test the VC15 also another Intel based board. We should be able to see what improvements has been made since then.
Todays board the AX4B Max uses Intels 845D chipset which brings DDR to the 100Mhz FSB processors. This chipset is targeted to the lower end market. When properly tweaked the 845D can offer performance that rivals the 850 at a considerably lower cost.
FIC has been around since the 80's and produces motherboards, video cards, PC systems and mobile devices. They've made a name for themselves in the low-cost basic boards arena. The Intel 845D chipset is geared directly towards that.