Motherboard: AOpen AK89 Review :: Setup and BIOS

04-07-2004 · Category: Motherboards

By Benjamin Sun

One thing about the AOpen AK89 Max that I especially appreciate is the placement of the memory slots outside of the normal position of right below the AGP slot. In most boards removing the memory necessitates removing the video card beforehand. On the AK89 Max, the video card never comes close to the memory. In fact there's nothing blocking the video card at all on this board.

Motherboard: AOpen AK89 Review

Ergonomically, I have one issue with this board. The placement of the power connector on the bottom of the board can and did cause a bit of consternation when the cables got a bit tangled up. Proper placement of the power connector would be near the top of the board. The other minor complaint is the prevalence of jumpers on the board. I prefer a nice clean jumperless design. However, there's a valid reason for each jumper so I decided to let it be.

One of the big issues with motherboards and computer components today is noise. Many people, including myself, would love to have noise levels reduced on their overall system. AOpen included a utility called Silentek with the AK89 Max. From the Silentek application you can change the various voltage settings and fan settings. Without Silentek enabled, the sound from my test bench was very noticeable. With it enabled, the sound was more of a low hum which shows it works as advertised.

The BIOS is based upon the Phoenix Award BIOS that seems prevalent among motherboard makers. AOpen includes a Windows based BIOS update utility which they call EzWinFlash. Further, to prevent BIOS crashes there's a second BIOS called Die Hard BIOS II that works when the first BIOS crashes due to a virus. Simply change a jumper setting and boot with BIOS 2. Set the jumper back and download the BIOS for the first BIOS and use EzWinFlash to update it.


Motherboard: AOpen AK89 Review
Motherboard: AOpen AK89 Review
Motherboard: AOpen AK89 Review
Motherboard: AOpen AK89 Review

AOpen really went all out on this board for overclocking capabilities.The BIOS has several key features that enable easy overclocking. First is something called WatchDog ABS. WatchDog ABS reboots the system to standard FSB settings if the system fails to POST. With this feature enabled you don't have to remove the cover of the case to overclock the system.

AOpen OverHeat Protection Technology is their brand name for their fan failure protection hardware. If the voltage of the fan differs to indicate that the fan is malfunctioning and overheating the system is automatically shut down. It's controlled by an Attansic ATTP10311 chip on the motherboard and is completely hardware based.

The AK89 Max has a utility called WinBIOS. This utility allows you to change BIOS settings from within Windows. No longer is pressing the F1 or Delete key during POST (Power On Self Test) necessary to change a BIOS setting. The interface is familiar to anyone who's changed a setting in the BIOS. You can change the Standard CMOS settings, the Advanced Chipset settings, and set default BIOS or Turbo mode from this menu. In order for the settings to take effect, a reboot is necessary. One note, when I tried to use WinBIOS, the version of my BIOS was newer than the newest WinBIOS available on AOpen's site.


Motherboard: AOpen AK89 Review
Motherboard: AOpen AK89 Review
Motherboard: AOpen AK89 Review
Motherboard: AOpen AK89 Review
Motherboard: AOpen AK89 Review
Motherboard: AOpen AK89 Review

  • CPU FSB: 200-255 in 1 MHz increments
  • CPU Voltage range: 1.10V to 1.85V in 0.05V increments
  • AGP Voltage range 1.5V to 1.6V in 0.03V increments
  • DIMM Voltage Range: 2.5V to 2.8V in 0.05V increments