AOpen, ECS, Foxconn SiS760GX Motherboard Reviews
AOpen s760GXm-S Features & Bundle
The AOpen s760GXm-S supports AMD's Socket 754 using DDR memory with 2GB capacity. The s760GXm-S has a single AGP 8x and three PCI expansion slots which should be sufficient since many features are already integrated onboard (i.e. audio and LAN).
Like all SiS 760GX motherboards, the AOpen s760GXm-S uses the integrated SiS video. This video is useful for those buyers who only need basic 2D functionality, or those users who want to save money. The integrated video isn't good enough for today's DirectX 9 games (only DirextX 8.1 supported), but it is good enough for general usage, business applications, and possibly basic HTPC functions.
There are two IDE headers on the s760GXm-S which allows you to connect up to four legacy parallel ATA devices which is very useful for those of you with older drives. If you are looking for RAID support, you will only find it on the two SATA connections.
The integrated LAN is supported by the RTL8100C which is a 10/100 solution (if you want gigabit, you will have to get the s760GXm-SL model). Audio is also driven by Realtek using an ALC655 chip which supports the AC'97 codec. As you can see this is a very basic configuration. If you want higher-end audio or LAN connectivity, you will have to use PCI expansion cards.
Since there are only 3 audio connections on the back shared between the mic, line-in, and the 5.1 audio, the ALC655 supports jack-sensing so you can connect on your devices. However if you plan on using a mic with your 5.1 audio, you will have to swap cables or use the front audio panel.
Also on the backpanel are parallel and serial ports, four USB 2.0 connections, legacy PS2 connections, the VGA output for the integrated SiS video, and finally the 10/100 LAN port.
In the hardware bundle, there are the essential drive cables (floppy, parallel and serial ATA), a SATA power adapter, and the back I/O plate.
The AOpen s760GXm-S does not come with the heatsink retention mechanism installed like the ECS. Instead, it comes in a separate package inside the box where you have to install it yourself. I assume this was done to save on production/labor costs.
One word of caution if you are planning on using the retention clip, DO NOT remove the paper covering the adhesive if you think you will want to use a different heatsink in the future! By removing the adhesive (like I did) the clip will be stuck to the back of the motherboard and nearly impossible to remove.
I made this mistake during this review and had to pry it off the board in order to install the Zalman CNPS-7700Cu.
The software bundle is fairly comprehensive for a budget motherboard. It has system information reporting tools as well as a boot screen changer.