AOpen AK77-400 Max: BIOS
The BIOS of the AOpen mainboard is remarkable for two sections. First of them is the exclusive Silent BIOS/HW Monitor section (only the first part is “exclusive”, to be more exact). Here we have the basic SilentTek settings, including fan rotation speeds for mainboard startup, for the POST and for OS boot-up and operation. AOpen warns that setting the fan rotation speeds without installing the SilentPC utility may lead to CPU and/or system overheating. All changes you do to the cooler speeds are enabled immediately, so you can check the noise level right in the BIOS and correct it to your taste.
The second remarkable section is Frequency/Voltage Control. All frequencies are shown right after you make any changes, with an appropriate multiplier. For example, the memory frequency is shown as 166x2.00=333MHz. The AOpen mainboard seems to be the only one in this review to tell the multiplier instead of hiding it behind the memory type name. I guess that’s a significant advantage.
FSB, memory, AGP and PCI frequencies as well as four voltages (memory, AGP, PCI and processor) are displayed during the POST procedure with their nominal values so that you could see how far this or that parameter goes beyond the nominal (if you forgot this nominal). This monitoring is not as detailed as by EPoX mainboards, but still is quite enough for checking the system operation at a glance.
That’s about all I’ve got to say about the AOpen mainboard. Let’s get to the next one – ABIT KD7-S.
This creation from ABIT is a more functional variation of KD7: two SerialATA and one ParallelATA channels were added. However, it is slower than the KD7-G model in the Ethernet speed (100Mb/s against 1Gb/s). It’s a curious fact ABIT didn’t change the name of the mainboard on transition to the KT400A chipset. Once, it was rumored that ABIT wouldn’t produce KT400A-based mainboards at all (see this news story), so it’s quite possible that we have got nothing but a sample. It means ABIT’s KT400A-based mainboards may not make it to the shops, or at least there won’t be too many pieces selling. However, since we have this product, let’s review it.
The package we got the thing in included nothing besides the mainboard itself, so we are not sure what accessories are supposed to come with it. Anyway, I doubt they will differ much from the accessories of the KT400-based ABIT KD7 mainboard and the only thing interesting in it is the Serillel ATA adapter intended to connect Parallel ATA devices to Serial ATA connectors. We have already met this gadget in our ABIT NF7-S Mainboard Review.