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Reviewed: Aopen AK73-1394(A)
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: August 12th, 2001
Page: 2

The AK73-1394(A) is set up to expand in just about any direction: five PCI slots, one AGP slot, and a solitary AMR slot (I really can't tell what this thing is doing in a high-end board) make up the basics, along with the obligatory AC'97 onboard sound, two USB slots on the back, and an IDE1 channel running ATA-100.  IDE-2 is standard, and so is the Floppy connector, obviously. Rounding things out are three RAM slots, plenty for a normal user. The difference is in the little extras the board offers, which push it above and beyond a normal board.

Two main extras stand out for the AK73-1394(A): a second pair of USB ports, and a pair of IEEE-1394 ports (FireWire for those who prefer the name). Initially, these are attached to slats and are intended to sit in the PCI slots, but a slight adjustment can easily sit them in better places.  Use your imagination, the cords are long enough to reach just about anywhere. FireWire is important because Digital Video cameras, newer CD burners, and even some external hard drives are coming out on this connection, and because its high speed (much faster than USB) connection makes it the perfect way to hook up these devices.

The minor items are just as helpful; AOpen's BIOS in the board is much easier to use than previous versions, and adjustments take less time.  For those who must have security, there's an optional die-hard BIOS feature that can be purchased as an add-on.  A real treat is the "Dr. Voice" setup: once the PC Speaker is engaged, instead of forcing the user to cluelessly seek out problems if the motherboard won't boot, certain (obvious) malfunctions will trigger a recorded voice message.  I tested this out, first by booting the motherboard with no RAM and then without the CPU, and finally with the FSB jumper removed. In each case, the error stood out clearly -- though the FSB jumper removal gave a CPU warning, which was slightly on the vague side.

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Added:  Sunday, August 12, 2001
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/5

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