Aopen AK77 Plus VIA KT266 socket A DDR

Wednesday, February 27, 2002


Introduction

The AOpen AK77 is available in four different flavor. First, we have the AK77 Plus, which we'll be reviewing today, is based on the VIA KT266 chipset, and includes an integrated RAID controller. Next, there's the AK77 Plus A, which comes with the RAID controller, and - like its name suggests - the KT266A chipset. The AK77 family is further complemented by the AK77 Pro, which - like the AK77 Plus - is based on the KT266, but forgoes the RAID chip. Finally, there's the AK77 Pro A - another KT266A board, without-RAID.

So, now that we've cleared up the family-tree, lets say we take a closer look at the AK77 Plus, and see what it has to offer .

Characteristics of the Aopen AK77 Plus
CPU
Socket A CPU AMD Duron CPU with 200MHz FSB
AMD Athlon CPU with 200 / 266MHz FSB
Chipset
VIA KT266 VT8366 + VT8233
Form factor
ATX - 30.5cm X 24.4cm
Expansion
5 PCI - 0 ISA - 1 CNR - 1 AGP - 6 USB
Memory
3X 184-pin DIMM 4Gb DDR SDRAM PC1600 - PC2100
FSB
100Mhz to 248Mhz in steps of 1Mhz
Vcore adj.
1.1 to 1.85v in steps of 0.025v
Vio/Dram adj.
NA
Audio chipset
integrated into chipset


Configuration

The AK77 Plus is based on a fairly conservative design - as evidenced by its configuration. As mentioned earlier, its based on the KT266 chipset, and comes equipped with few Overclocking functions. On the other hand, it is quite simple to use and install. Its circuits, for instance, only incorporate two jumpers, and a single array of Dip switches. One jumper is used to reset the BIOS, while the other can force the FSB to 100MHz or 133MHz. The Dip switches are equally useful, and can be used to set the CPU's clock multiplier to between 5X and 12.5X, assuming that the CPU comes without the usual multiplier lock.

Most other important adjustments are performed from within the "Frequency/Voltage Control" BIOS menu. Once located there, users are presented with a number of options. These include the ability to set the FSB frequency to between 100MHz and 248MHz in 1MHz increments, and to set the Vcore voltage to any of the values indicated in the table above.

As expected, the "Advanced Chipset Features" menu also includes a number of functions that permit users to tweak their system's memory timing values. This includes the ability to set the memory-bus frequency to 3 or 4 times that of the PCI bus, or to SPD (Serial Presence Detect), which will allows the system to determine a proper setting automatically.



Comments

As you can tell, implementing the KT266 chipset has made the AOpen AK77 Plus long in the tooth before its time - especially given that the KT266A is about 10% faster than its predecessor. You really have to ask yourself then, why exactly AOpen decided to use the aging KT266 in one of its newest products. Whatever the reason, its clear that board-conaisseurs will undoubtedly prefer the AK77 Plus A, which has all the Plus's features, and the added benefit of a newer chipset.



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