AOpen AX6F

by Anand Lal Shimpi on October 23, 1997 7:36 PM EST
AOpen showed us how quality can effect the overall experience we will have with their products with the AX5T, lets see how well their AX6F stacks up against the competition.

Motherboard Specifications

Socket Style: Slot-1
Chipset: i82440FX (NATOMA)
Cache: N/A (On Chip)
Form Factor: ATX
BUS Speeds: 60 / 66 MHz
Clock Multipliers: 3.0x / 3.5x / 4.0x / 4.5x / 5.0x / 5.5x
Voltages Supported: 1.5v - 3.5v (Auto Detect)
RAM Slots: 4 72pin SIMM Slots (EDO/FPM)
PCI/ISA Slots: 4 PCI Slots
4 ISA Slots (1 Shared / 4 Full Length)
PCI EIDE Controller: Super I/O
2 EIDE Channels
1 FDD Channel
2 Serial /1 EPP


The Good

When choosing a Pentium II board, it really comes down to stability, quality, and expandibility...since the speed of most Pentium II boards are as close as they will ever be right about now. The AOpen AX6F excels in all of these categories, making it a knockout choice for your new Pentium II. Like the AX5T, the mighty AX6F is packed full of oversized Sanyo Capacitors (12 total) all of which surround the Slot-1. Like most other Pentium II boards, the AX6F is an ATX form factor design...however there are some interesting aspects of this design I address in The Bad points of the motherboard. Performance wise, the AX6F isn't the fastest, but then again it is far from the slowest Pentium II board I've tested. I felt quite at home with the AWARD BIOS setup function of the AX6F, and the setup went very quickly (quickly in that it easily accepted my most aggressive timings). I was very pleased with the AX6F's stability, mostly an after-effect brought on by the plentiful Sanyo capacitors =)

The disk performance, as well as the graphics performance I achieved with the AX6F was truly amazing, it was among the highest in my testing lab. However this board does have a few downsides...

The Bad

The AOpen AX6F is quite like its cousin, the AX5T, in that it doesn't stay true to the ATX specification completely. This was not as much of a problem with the Pentium motherboard, but with the Pentium II's immense heat dissipation...well you might be able to tell where the problems came into play, especially since the Slot-1 isn't located underneath the P/S fan. The other problem I encountered with the AX6F wasn't really a flaw in the manufacturing process, just mainly a wish the AX6F left me with. If AOpen had included support for the 75MHz bus speed, this would have been an even better motherboard. Unfortunately, like most Pentium II boards, the AX6F is limited to the 60 and 66MHz bus speeds alone, ah well...can't have it all.


IRQ Usage

  • Allows user to individually set IRQs for each Legacy ISA card

  • Allows user to reserve IRQ/DMA Channels if necessary

  • Auto-detects PnP Cards after HDD Detection


BIOS Settings

Trust me, you don't need my recommendations for this, the AOpen AX6F was amazingly stable even with the most aggressive memory timings.

The Test

In recent times, choosing a motherboard cannot be completely determined by a Winstone score. Now, many boards come within one Winstone point of each other and therefore the need to benchmark boards against each other falls. Therefore you shouldn't base your decision entirely on the benchmarks you see here, but also on the technical features and advantages of this particular board, seeing as that will probably make the greatest difference in your overall experience.

Test Configuration

Processor(s): Intel Pentium II - 266 (512K)
BIOS Revision: Std BIOS
RAM: 2 - 32MB Micron 50ns EDO SIMMs
Hard Drive(s): Western Digital Caviar AC21600H
Video Card: Matrox Millennium (2MB WRAM)
Busmaster EIDE Drivers: Intel v3.01
Video Card Drivers: MGA Millennium
OS: Windows 95 Service Release 2
Cooling: Enlight 7230 ATX Mid Tower Case
2 Secondary Brushless Case Fans
OEM Pentium II Heatsink


Windows 95 Performance of the AOpen AX6F

CPU Business Winstone 97 Business Graphics Winmark 97
Intel Pentium II - 300 64.1 145
Intel Pentium II - 266 62.0 133
Intel Pentium II - 233 60.1 118


Disk Performance of the AOpen AX6F

CPU Business Disk Winmark 97 High End Disk Winmark 97
Intel Pentium II - 300 2920 3600
Intel Pentium II - 266 2900 3530
Intel Pentium II - 233 2880 3480



The Final Decision

Quality, Reliability, and Stability, the three key words that perfectly characterize the AOpen AX6F, not bad for a Pentium II board..not bad at all.

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