Aopen – i975Xa-YDG review

overclockable ATX motherboard for mobile Core Duo CPUs
Photo of Aopen – i975Xa-YDG
£225

With Intel’s introduction of the Core Duo mobile processor, desktop motherboards that use mobile CPUs have suddenly become a lot more interesting, but unfortunately they are still seen as niche products and so carry niche product price tags. AOpen’s latest mobile board, the i975Xa-YDG, certainly doesn’t go against this grain, costing over £200.

One of the few companies to keep going with mobile CPUs in desktop motherboards, AOpen has persevered, starting from Intel’s less than feature-rich i855 notebook chipset, through the much more viable i915 chipset. Now, in the i975Xa-YDG, AOpen has produced probably the ultimate in mobile motherboards, using as it does Intel’s latest, high-end, i975X chipset.

Not only does this produce a feature-rich board, it also makes for an outstanding board to overclock, as can be witnessed by the amount of times the board is mentioned on ‘tinkering with your PC’ forums.

Feature-wise, the board brings support for the latest Intel Core CPUs – both Duo and Solo – with a 667MHz FSB, Crossfire support through two x16 PCI-E slots, RAID support for both ATA and SATA II (including a port on the rear panel which supports Hot Swapping), integrated Gigabit LAN and 7.1-channel audio.

Built on a full-size, black, ATX PCB, the i975Xa-YDG is neatly laid out with a fan cooling the Northbridge. Talking of fans, AOpen provides a low-profile CPU fan as with all of its mobile boards. Intel’s Core Duo might be a powerful CPU, but with a maximum TDP (thermal design power) of just 35W, you can get away with a small, quiet fan.

When it comes to connecting up your drives, the i975Xa-YDG is a bit more flexible than a lot of today’s motherboards. Besides the default, single, ATA/100 port of Intel’s chipset design, AOpen has added an ITE8212 controller chip that handles the two additional ATA/133 ports on the board, as well as offering RAID 0, 1 and 0+1.

Since the ICH7 Southbridge is the non-RAID version, this is the only RAID support available on the board, which is a surprise seeing that there are four SATA II ports as well. As previously mentioned, there is another SATA II port on the back plate: this is a hot-plug socket combining both the power and data cables into a single wide connector, which is supplied in the box.

As with a number of high-end platforms, there are no legacy parallel or serial ports on the back panel, just two PS/2 ports, along with a single FireWire 400 port (the board supports two) and four USB 2.0 ports with headers on the board for another four. Also on the back plane are two S/PDIF ports.

The box contains a surprise in the form of a remote control unit. This not only allows you to control your media files in the normal way, but also lets you to overclock the FSB speed in 1MHz stepped increments.

Company: Aopen

Contact: +31 73 645 9516


Verdict
This is an impressive motherboard for Intel's latest CPU technology, but with an equally impressive price tag that will put off the vast majority of people. But if you have deep pockets and want a motherboard that supports serious overclocking for Core Duo, this is the board for you.