Price: $140 Street
New motherboard chipsets come and go, and only the very cream of the chipset crop will be rewarded with mass acceptance by both the motherboard manufacturers and consumers. When speaking of Intel-based solutions, that used to mean the Intel BX and the VIA Apollo Pro 133A, but a new name has definitely been added to that list.
Of course we are talking about the Intel 815E, a chipset that has been a long time coming but is definitely worth the wait. After the ill-timed i820 and budget-level i810, Intel really needed a shot in the arm and the i815 and i815E seem to be just what the doctor ordered. With its combination of a rapidly aging feature set and Intel's newer 133 MHz Pentium III EB models, the viability of the BX was growing shorter by the day. This is where the i815E comes in, with its support for PC133 SDRAM, AGP 4X and ATA-100, as well as a level of performance that will challenge even the Intel BX.
AOpen is part of the Acer Group, one of the largest manufacturers of computers and computer hardware in the world. This sort of market clout has its advantages and you will find AOpen motherboards on many retail shelves and well represented with online retailers as well. When a new chipset appears, AOpen is usually not among the first to market with a new board, but they are quick to release new products once initial market acceptance is reached. Like other large hardware companies such as ASUS, ABIT and MSI, AOpen is also actively involved in secondary markets such as 3D video, computer cases and even soundcards.
The AOpen AX3S Pro is an i815E motherboard that offers the stability and compatibility of a basic AOpen product, along with overclocking options such as FSB and CPU core voltage adjustments through the system BIOS. This combination of stability, performance and features have made the AOpen Pro motherboard line a very popular choice among both home and business users.