The AOpen MX4GVR is a bit different that the previous two boards, and is designed for a more entry-level system. The most important distinctions are that this board includes integrated Intel graphics (but without the option for a dedicated AGP card) and supports on DDR266 memory speeds. There is an ADD (AGP Digital Display) card that can be used in the AGP-like slot, but this runs complementary to the integrated graphics and simply offers DVI and TV-out connectors.
The MX4GVR doesn't match up to the feature list of the AOpen i845PE or GE boards, but it certainly isn't a slouch either. It features USB 2.0 (x6), integrated AC'97 audio, along with Realtek 10/100 LAN. On the other hand, there are no fancy extras like IDE RAID, Serial ATA or IEEE 1394 Firewire.
The AX4GE Max retail box includes the motherboard, one Floppy and ATA-66/100/133 cable (jet black), an I/O Shield, a quick install guide, a hardcopy user manual and a driver CD. This is quite a bit less that we found in the other two packages, and due to its lower price, there are more "optional" components (such as secondary USB brackets).
The AOpen MX4GVR features a Micro-ATX design, which means it's quite a bit smaller than a standard motherboard. Even so, the layout is still very nice, owing both to a smart design and a lower number of onboard features. The CPU and two DIMM sockets are nicely situated, and we had no problem adding the required hardware. Due to the shortness of the PCB, the floppy and IDE connectors are well in reach, even if you decide to load this board into a full tower case. AOpen still has the secondary ATX connector to the side of the CPU socket, though the primary one is next to the DIMM sockets and well placed. Our only issue has more to do with the strange ADD connector, which is quite similar to an AGP slot (and fits AGP cards no problem), but will not function as such. This may cause some confusion with buyers who may try an AGP card upgrade when no option really exists.
The MX4GVR may be a MATX design, but the PCB itself was a bit wider than we're accustomed to, and exhibited a bit of board overhang in our reference case. Apart from that issue, we had no problem installing the AOpen MX4GVR, and even the software load went off with an issue. The integrated graphics booted up immediately, and Win XP easily loaded the drivers. While the 3D performance left a bit to be desired, the 2D image quality is actually quite good, especially compared to previous editions of Intel onboard graphics.
Due to its entry-level design, it might seem logical that the AOpen MX4GVR would not include any overclocking options, but this isn't the case. Certainly, the MX4GVR isn't going to give the other two boards a run for the money, but there are some interesting options present in the BIOS. This starts with full FSB speeds up to 248 MHz (in 1 MHz increments), along with AGP and PCI divider selections (AGP bus is 88, 75 or 66 MHz,
PCI is 33, 37 or 44 MHz). After that, it goes a bit downhill, as there are no CPU, DDR or AGP voltage options, which makes the FSB speeds a lot less useful.
Although its features don't lend well to the performance market, the AOpen MX4GVR is a nice bet for a standard business/Internet PC, or even a secondary workstation or network computer. Everything works as advertised and by adding a low-cost Celeron or Pentium 4 processor and some inexpensive PC2100 DDR, you're pretty well off to the races.