iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Sapphire Axion 9100 IGP Motherboard Preview

The board we received is a preproduction sample though it came in its own box with a user manual and a software suite. But it's not clear whether this is a "release candidate" or a beta version (it could also be an alpha version). The board has average functionality, scarce settings and unimpressive accessory pack (though it's not a disadvantage for everyone).

The layout is standard for the mATX format. It's not difficult to reach some jumpers when the board is already installed. Their functions are not indicated on the PCB. The 3-phase switching voltage regulator incorporates 6 capacitors of 3300 uF and 3 of 2200 uF. There are also voltage regulators of the memory bus (4 x 1000 uF and several less capacious ones).  The board measures 245x230 mm (6 fastening screws, the front edge hangs loose). 

System monitoring is supported by ITE IT8712F-A chip. It controls: 

  • processor, memory bus, AGP, battery voltages, +3.3, +5 and +12 V;
  • rotation speed of 2 fans; 
  • temperatures of the processor (built-in sensor) and the board (built-in sensor).
There are no variations based on the same PCB with different functionality. We couldn't find even in-depth information on this board on the manufacturer's site (3 months after the announcement!). That is why we think that this model will remain the only in this line since ATI, unlike NVIDIA with its nForce2, is much less aggressive on the chipset market and doesn't make chipsets without integrated graphics. There is space for a CNR slot though we don't know what for. 

Ports & connectors onboard

  • CPU socket (Socket 478); 
  • 2 slots for DDR SDRAM DIMM; 
  • AGP slot (not Pro, with a retention clip); 
  • 3 PCI slots (32bit, 33MHz); 
  • Standard power supply connectors (ATX, 4pin for 12V); 
  • FDD; 
  • 2 IDE slots (Parallel ATA) - on chipset; 
  • Connector for a bracket with additional USB (2.0) ports; 
  • Connector for Game port;
  • Connector for IR module;
  • Connector for audio-out from CD/DVD drive;
  • Connector for AUX-in;
  • Wake-On-LAN connector; 
  • Connector for a bracket with additional audio-outs and S/PDIF; 
  • 2 connectors for fans (both with regulation of rotations). 

Rear panel (left to right, units)

  • PS/2 ports for keyboard & mouse; 
  • 2 USB (2.0); 
  • 1 LPT, 1 COM, 1 VGA;
  • 2 USB (2.0) and RJ-45 (Ethernet);
  • 3 audio ports.


  • Package in the monster-style design;
  • Documentation: user manual in English;
  • Cables: ATA66/100/133 and FDD;
  • Bracket with TV-Outs (S-Video and RCA);
  • I/O Shield;
  • Software CD:
    • drivers;
    • PC-cillin 2002;
    • DriveImage 4.0;
    • Partition Magic 6.0SE;
    • DirectX 9.0.

Integrated controllers

  • Audio controller based on the Avance Logic ALC650 AC'97 codec; 5.1 audio system supported, front audio-outs and S/PDIF connector provided; 
  • Network controller based on the Realtek RTL8100C, 10/100 Mbit Base-T (Fast Ethernet) supported.


jumpers and switches Jumper to clear the CMOS  
Audio controller activation jumper  
Network controller activation jumper  
BIOS based on Phoenix Award WorkstationBIOS 6.00PG Setup of memory timings + CAS Latency, T(RAS), T(RCD), T(RP)
Setup of memory frequency + Auto, Sync, DDR200, DDR266, DDR333, DDR400
Setup of AGP bus -  
Setup of PCI bus -  
AGP/PCI frequency setup -  
PCI IRQ manual assignment -  
FSB frequency setup + +1-+15 MHz related to default value in 1MHz steps
CPU clock ratio -  
CPU voltage control -  
DIMM voltage control -  
NB voltage control -  
AGP voltage control -  

We used the BIOS 04.09.2003 as the latest available version.

The Axion 9100 IGP board was tested together with the Pentium 4 3.2 GHz (800 MHz FSB) though the support for this FSB clock wasn't announced separately. But the BIOS Setup supports it, and the board works correctly though the first several attempts to enable this features failed. But the board's operation was very stable for a preproduction sample.

Test results: 

Stanislav Garmatyuk(nawhi@ixbt.com)
Dmitry Mayorov(destrax@ixbt.com)

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