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AOpen AK79D-400 Max (nForce2 Ultra 400)
By Vijay Anand
Category : Mainboard
Published by Jimmy Tang on Monday, 17th November, 2003
Rating : 4.5 out of 5 stars   (Most Value For Money Award)

The Features

If you have read our review on the AOpen AK79G Max (nForce2 IGP) motherboard review, you would find that it bears uncanny resemblance to the AK79D-400 Max in appearances and as well as features. Like most motherboard manufacturers, this board reutilized that same motherboard layout as the various nForce2 platform processors are pin compatible.

A bird’s eye view of the motherboard.

The first item that we would like to bring your attention to is the Promise PDC20375 SATA/IDE controller chip. Note that this model does not support RAID functions, but only acts as an additional controller for more storage options in addition to what the nForce2 chipset supports. This controller supports two SATA and two IDE ATA-133 hard drives, but if you were to take into account the dual IDE controllers on the MCP-T, a system based on this motherboard can support up to eight drives in total.

The Promise PDC20375 SATA/IDE controller.

Digital video editing is no longer for professionals only since computing power has grown in leaps and bounds over time and any individual with a decent system with plenty of storage space can perform this task on their own and perhaps add their own personal creativity touch. If you own a digital video camcorder, it would very likely be equipped with an IEEE-1394a (Firewire) interface, which the AOpen AK79D-400 Max is also equipped with. This means, you do not need to spend on additional hardware to transfer videos to your PC unlike old video camcorders that still utilize analog input/output connections. The motherboard integrates an Agere FW802B Firewire PHY that supports two ports, which are available via a bracket; while the media access controller itself is embedded within the MCP-T.

The Agere IEEE-1394a PHY IC.

The 2-port Firewire bracket.

Speaking of the MCP-T, we are sure many of you are aware of NVIDIA’s APU and Dolby Interactive Content Encoder are part of this Southbridge chip, but according to NVIDIA’s motherboard design, these cannot exist on their own without a third-party AC’97 sound codec. On this board, this latter part is taken care by the widely used Realtek ALC650 sound codec. Additionally, this AOpen motherboard provides for an S/PDIF audio bracket for input and output on both Optical and Coaxial connector formats.

The S/PDIF input/output interface for both connector formats.

It would have been even more convenient if AOpen had an analog surround sound bracket so that users do not need to share the MIC-in and Line-In ports integrated on the rear I/O deck.

The rear-I/O deck reveals the presence of only one COM port because this is the exact same motherboard layout used for the nForce2 IGP version in which the sealed port seen on this board would actually house a VGA output connector.

The rear I/O port has a LAN port that has a maximum throughput of 100Mbps and is handled by a combination of the Realtek RTL8201BL 10/100 PHY and the NVIDIA Ethernet MAC (within the MCP-T). Too bad the board isn’t equipped with another LAN port since a secondary 3Com Ethernet MAC is already integrated into the MCP-T Southbridge.

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