AOpen i915GMm-HFS: 2nd Gen Pentium M desktop board

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Next up on our little tour will be the section of the board reserved for the Luddites out there in Computerland. There's an internal Parallel Port header, a set of COM port headers and a vestigial FDD header. The floppy header is the standard 34 pin connection, but it's been squeezed into a proprietary width, due to space constraints on the board itself. AOpen has included a custom size FDD cable along with all the other cables and goodies, but if this cable ever got lost or broken, you'd be out of luck. Last, but not least in the Luddite section is an internal PS/2 header. The rear I/O panel is devoid of both PS/2 keyboard and mouse connectors, but AOpen has kindly provided an internal PS/2 keyboard header, and a PCI bracket to cater to those consumers (like yours truly) that are still using the centuries-old PS/2 keyboards.

PS/2 keyboard adapter plugs into internal header on board.
AOpen has provided both full and half size PCI covers to mount this.

The rear I/O header shows off many of the extra features of the 915GMm board. In place of the PS/2 connectors is a set of six analog and S/PDIF in/out digital ports for the board. These ports are 7.1 channel HD Audio connected through the integrated Realtek ALC880 CODEC. AOpen includes two optical S/PDIF adapters with the motherboard, so the motherboard will be able to connect directly to digital speakers. Inhabiting the previous location of the Serial and Parallel ports are the video output connectors, one being the standard analog VGA connector, and the other being a DVI-I digital-out connector. Next in line are an S-Video TV out and a set of YPbPr (HDTV) connectors. All of these connectors are fed from the integrated Intel GMA900 graphics core. Intel's GMA900 is DirectX 9.0 compatible, and supports DVI connections up to 1600 x 1200.

Intel touts the GMA900 chip thus:

"Graphics designed with media in mind. Incredible visual quality with native 16x9 formats for wide screen flat panels, motion compensation for smooth DVD playback and support for popular HDTV display formats. Outstanding overall media experience when combined with Intel® High Definition Audio (Intel® HD Audio)."

Next on the rear I/O panel is a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports which are connected by a Marvell Yukon chipset. Last, but not least are yet another four USB 2.0 connectors. These are external connectors, and when combined with the four internal connectors give this board an impressive eight USB 2.0 connectors. You'd really have to try to run out of USB connectivity on this board.

Rear I/O with no Legacy ports at all.
L-R: HD Audio, VGA, DVI, HDTV, S-Video, 2 x GigE LAN, 4 x USB 2.0.

If the integrated Intel GMA900 graphics chipset isn't your cup of tea, AOpen and the Intel ICH6M chipset have provided a PCI Express x16 graphics card slot for more powerful video choices, as well as one PCI Express x1 slot and two good 'ol 32-bit PCI slots.

Top to bottom: PCIe x 16, PCIe x 1, 32bit PCI x 2.

AOpen has included a complete set of accessories along with the 915GMm. There's the usual manual and driver disc, along with a RAID driver floppy and rear I/O plate. Also included is a set of 2 SATA cables, an ATA100 ribbon cable and the proprietary FDD cable. A set of Molex-to-SATA power adapters, the PS/2 keyboard adapter and a pair of S/PDIF adapters round out the accessory kit for this board.

Accessory kit included with the board.

So there's the kit, now let's assemble it and see how it works. As a bit of a Luddite myself, I'm a bit concerned about having only one P-ATA channel, and no PS/2 ports, but for this review I'll jump firmly into the 21st century and see how I fare.

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