iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






AOpen AX4B-533 Tube (i845E) Mainboard

The board won't be very popular with users: its high price (because of the unnecessary tube amplifier) negates all its advantages. But the board will remain in the memory of all who have seen its specs and its photo - well, this is what a company stakes on when releases an advertising product. 


  • Dark box with a conceptional picture and an additional section with the vacuum tube; 

  • Documentation: user manual, description of Tube's functions, poster with brief description of installation of the board - in English; 
  • Cables: 1 ATA66/100/133, 1 ATA33 and FDD; 
  • Bracket with audio connectors; 

  • SOVTEK 6922 twin triode; 

  • Bracket for the rear computer panel; 
  • 2 CDs containing: 
    • drivers; 
    • user manuals for several AOpen's boards in PDF; 
    • DirectX 8.1; 
    • Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.05; 
    • DocuCom Reader (for reading PDF files); 
    • System monitoring programs; 
    • AOConfig; 
    • E-Color; 
    • Norton CrashGuard 1.0 (rarity, 1995!); 
    • Norton Antivirus 98 (rarity, 1998); 
    • Norton Antivirus 2002. 

The layout is unusual because of the tube amplifier - the full-size ATX board houses only 3 PCI slots. Audio-ins, IDE and FDD connectors are in not very good positions, and when a video card is installed it's difficult to handle the memory modules. It's not difficult to reach jumpers when the board is already installed. Their functions are shown on the textolite.


The 3-channel switching voltage regulator incorporates 8 capacitors of 3300 uF and 3 of 2200 uF. 

The following controllers are integrated: 

  • audio controller based on the Avance Logic ALC650 AC'97 codec with a connector for front audio inputs/outputs and supporting 5.1 audio systems; 
  • network controller based on the chipset's capabilities supporting 10Base-T/100Base-TX. 
The board supports the AOpen's technologies Vivid BIOS (a picture during booting), AOpen Dr. Voice II (tells about problems during booting) and AOpen EzRestore (data backup on the hard drive). 

The back side of the board houses a metallic plate that prevents the textolite from distortion when massive coolers are installed. 

+5V in the StandBy mode is indicated with the red LED. 

Non-unsoldered connectors: none. 

The system monitoring is supported by the Winbond WT83627HF-AW chip. What is controlled: 

  • processor voltage, +3.3, +-5 and +-12 V, VBAT, +5 V Standby; 
  • speed of 3 fans; 
  • temperatures of the processor (a built-in sensor), and the board (a built-in sensor). 
There are 3 connectors for adjustable connection of fans.

Brief characteristics of the board: memory slots - 3 DDR SDRAM; expansion slots - AGP/ 3 PCI; I/O ports - 2 COM/ LPT/ 2 PS/2/ 6 USB 2.0; dimensions - 305x245 mm.  

Adjustment can be carried out with:

jumpers and switchesJumper to clear up the CMOS 
Jumper for starting up computer from a PS/2 keyboard 
Jumper to supply power to the tube amplifier 
Jumpers for selecting a language for the Dr. Voice IIEnglish/ Chinese/ Japanese/ German
BIOS based on the AwardBIOS 6.00PG from PhoenixSetup of memory timings+CAS Latency, Active to Precharge Delay, RAS to CAS Delay, RAS Precharge
Setup of memory frequency+Auto, DDR200, DDR266
Setup of AGP bus- 
Setup of PCI bus- 
Changeable scaler of AGP and PCI buses- 
Manual assignment of interrupts- 
Changeable FSB frequency+100 - 248 MHz in 1MHz steps
Changeable CPU multiplier+x8 - x50
Changeable core voltage+1.1 - 1.85 V in 0.025V steps
Changeable memory voltage- 
Changeable chipset voltage- 
Changeable AGP bus voltage- 

We used the latest available version of the BIOS - R1.02. 

This product is not going to boast of speed, settings or functionality, it's meant for a person who wants a piece of art instead of a noname Chinese fake-up. However, its basic part - sound section - doesn't have outstanding characteristics at all. 

Test results: 

Dmitry Mayorov (destrax@ixbt.com

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