AOpen i915GMm-HFS review

£128
Price when reviewed

In keeping with the futuristic feel of the board, there’s support for two Serial ATA and two Serial ATA 2 hard disks. The ICH6-M south bridge provides two Serial ATA channels with NCQ (Native Command Queuing). A Silicon Image 3132 chip takes a PCI Express lane (250MB/sec in both directions) and runs two Serial ATA 2 (300MB/sec) ports from it. As you can see, the numbers don’t quite add up, but you’ll rarely need the lost bandwidth, even with the fastest of current hard disks. These Serial ATA 2 connectors do support Hot Plug though, which could be handy if you have a removable hard disk. There’s an IDE connector for an optical drive too, but no floppy controller.

There isn’t much that AOpen could do to make this a better basis for a media-centre PC. Even a low-end Pentium M has enough power for most conceivable tasks, and AOpen’s heatsink keeps it cool without whining about it. The size of the board makes it ideal for small cases, and it’s incredibly power-efficient. The superb AV support and reasonable pricing are the finishing touches, making this the ideal basis for a powerful yet discreet PC system.

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