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Reviewed: Aopen AK72
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: November 1st, 2000
Page: 4

The one thing users will really not like about the AK-72 is its overclocking capability: as much as I would like to say so, there just isn't much there. The motherboard has a jumper to go from default 100MHz to 133MHz front side bus, and the rest of the settings consist of very few steps. When the jumper is set low, the available options are 100.2,110, and 115 MHz. When set high, options travel through 120,124,129,133.3,138,143, and 147 MHz. With my Athlon and its locked 8X multiplier, I couldn't go beyond 115 MHz FSB anyways (corresponding to 920 MHz CPU speed). These options are a bit too far apart for safe overclocking, however. For those really trying to tweak an Athlon to its highest speed I'd recommend a gold finger device or a different motherboard with tighter FSB controls, so that going one bin up or alternatively moving the FSB by 1 MHz at a time is doable. I was unfortunately unable to even test my computer at the 120 MHz BUS, since the system wouldn't post or even start up for me (Athlon didn't like it) at the 133 MHz bus speed. It's not too surprising, however. The 133 MHz FSB equates to 1064 MHz, well beyond the performance I'd expect from an 800 MHz Athlon.

Benchmarking the AK-72 didn't prove too many things; the benchmarks in Quake 3 and 3DMark both came out on par with the rest of the system. Since the KX133 is the default option for Athlon users these days, and the benchmarks were all on par with normal Athlon 800 MHz performance, I can offer forth the conclusion that the motherboard is a perfectly usable solution for the gamer looking to put together a non-overclocked rig.

The installation of the motherboard went much like any other, meaning it was a pretty involved process involving setting up the case, plugging everything in, and then requiring a multiple restart to dump in all the drivers. Thankfully, the default drivers in Win98 were enough to get me started, and the installation CD had everything else in one package. It wasn't automated, because AOpen's CD can install drivers for any AOpen motherboard as well as for different options, but the menus were fairly intuitive and everything went smoothly. I eventually settled on "turbo" AGP drivers from VIA, just for that little extra speed boost. Total time to install the drivers was approximately 1/2 hour.

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Added:  Wednesday, November 01, 2000
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 4/5

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