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Recently AOpen has been known for their well made Slot 1 based motherboards. These include the FX Based AX6F, LX based AX6L, and BX based AX6B. The AX6B Plus is another BX based offering from AOpen except this time it includes the Adaptec AIC-7880 SCSI controller on the motherboard. Inside the box you will find an ATX backplate, Adaptec 7800 Family Manager Set on two floppies complete with a printed User's Guide, the user guide for the AX6B Plus, and a CD that includes Norton AntiVirus, User Manuals, a mirror of the AOpen website, and some assorted AOpen software. Further along in the review you will notice that I did not run the large array of benchmarks that I usually run, this is because of some circumstances I've had to deal with in the past few weeks left me short on time. I will try my best to make sure that this is a one time occurrence.
There's not much for me to say about the specifications except for the SCSI controller and optional RAIDPort it's pretty much the standard feature set of most BX based motherboards, though the inclusion of four DIMM slots instead of three may be important to some users. As you can see above there is a wide array of bus speeds to choose from, the notable exception is the 124Mhz speed which isn't all that important since all new Intel processors are multiplier locked and very few can handle the 124Mhz or 133Mhz bus speeds because of this. Apparently the board will only let you pick speeds of 100Mhz or higher if you have a processor designed for the 100Mhz bus, this is why I did not do any benchmarking at 266 (4x66), 300 (4x75), or 333 (4x83). Whether or not the board will let you run a processor which was designed for the 66Mhz bus speed at speeds of 100Mhz or greater I am unable to test since the only Pentium II I have available is a Pentium II 400.
Installation of the AX6B Plus was fairly simple. I had no problems installing the board except that the ATX Power Connector was in the very annoying spot between the Slot-1 connector and the ATX Panel. The processor retention mechanism was the best I've seen yet. Unlike all the other boards I've tested which make you screw in the retention mechanism the AX6B has it already screwed on and has fold up sides that allow the board to be shipped safely inside a standard sized box.
As mentioned earlier I could not run my usual Benchmark Suite, I do not feel this is much of a problem however since most BX based boards fall within a few percent of each other in performance and the AX6B Plus is no different. I would strongly advise against buying a BX board simply because it is the fastest according to a few programs and a reviewer. In the motherboard market these days I believe that you should make your purchasing decisions based upon how well the feature set meets your needs and stability.
Overall the AX6B Plus is an excellent board with good performance and features, great expandability, and only a few drawbacks. Though it only has 4 PCI slots the on-board SCSI will eliminate one of the PCI cards that you would have used (Assuming you are using SCSI). I would recommend this board to users looking for a new Slot-1 based board and are planning on using SCSI.
Although the board has a few minor drawbacks I think the advantages it presents (4 DIMMs, Optional RAIDPort, On-board SCSI) nearly cancels out the disadvantages.
All tests are performed on Windows 98, with DirectX 6 installed unless otherwise noted.
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