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AOpen AK89 Max Cool'n'Quiet (was: Man with many questions..)

Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2004 5:25 pm
by wombler
Right, I've been lurking and reading for some time now, and I think I'm about ready to buy, so any last minute crys of "DON'T BUY THAT" would be appreciated right about now. Here's what I've specced:

AOpen AK89 Max
Athlon 64 3000
Zalman CNPS7000B-??
512Mb PC3200 (Possibly Crucial/Kingston Value)

Acousticase C6607
Enermax Noisetaker 420W PSU
2x Nexus 120mm Case fans

Samsung SpinPoint P80 160GB SATA150

To this I'm going to add my existing Seagate 7200.7 120GB, and my optical drives.

My questions then, in no particular order:

Motherboard wise, is the AOpen a good choice? I know MikeC has one, so it can't be THAT bad i'm guessing! Specifically, I want to make use of Cool'n'Quiet, as a lot of the time I just use the PC for p2p, but I have to sleep in the same room. But apparently the AK89 Max doesn't officially support Cool'n'Quiet - so can someone confirm that it will definitely work (assuming I update to the latest BIOS)? Also, what's this I hear about SilentTek being able to stop the fan completely at low CPU temps? Can anyone confirm that?

On the Zalman 7000, i'm a little confused. There's only a £3 ($5) difference at - so i'm guessing the copper one is probably the one to go for, but I know there's some debate about whether it's actually any better?

Memory I've never really understood. Is 512mb enough (tight budget here) or will I be seriously compromising system performance? I don't really understand about memory pairs, and i've read about the Socket 754 boards having problems with two sticks of double sided memory - but being honest I don't really know what that means.

So far as the silence specific bits, i've gone for the Enermax over the Seasonic - mainly becaue it's much cheaper and easier to source in the UK, and Nexus fans - though I could get Papst ones for less, if that's not a false economy?

I did briefly consider the Nexus Breeze case, which would save me a whole lot of money (well over $100) but I was a bit concerned that since it has no blow holes apart from the one at the bottom that it's going to leave me no upgrading opportunities, and that the Hard Drives would get very hot. It's a shame MikeC hasn't had one to review yet - but if anyone wants to tell me that it's the best and quietest case ever, then feel free, cos i'll be able to save a lot of money!

Right, sorry for going on, I hope I haven't asked too many stupid questions. Thanks in advance for your valued help.

Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2004 5:42 pm
by sthayashi
Yes, SilentTek can stop fans at low CPU temps. However, if the SilentTek program for later boards is just as crappy as it is for the AK79D-400VN, then I can only half heartedly recommend it.

The Zalman 7000 has almost no debate. Nearly every review I've read on both have shown that the Cu was not much better than the AlCu. Save that $5 and buy a beer with it instead.

Dunno about the memory. It sounds like it ought to be enough, but it depends on what you plan on doing with it.

The Nexus and the Enermax are perfectly reasonable. I applaud you. As for the case, you can save money by going with the Antec 3700AMB. Though you won't be getting the Acousticpak that comes with the Acousticase.

Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2004 7:10 pm
by Dos_Junkie
the zalman 7000 differences are thus:

lightweight and under intel/amd weight limit, thus giving you the ability to pick up and move your case without worrying about breaking something.
about 3-5C lhotter CPU

WAY over the intel/amd weight limit. If you pick up and move your case often, this will damage something over time.
3-5C cooler CPU

Posted: Wed Aug 11, 2004 8:01 pm
by MonsterMac
you don't need that high wattage of a PSU... I think a 350 would do fine, but again I think a 300W would work great too. EdwardNg is running his 6800GT with a 300W psu...

Posted: Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:23 am
by wombler
Thanks for your help so far, can someone confirm though that the AOpen AK89 will definitely do Cool'n'Quiet? I'd be gutted if I buy it and it won't.

So far as cases go, i looked at several, including the Antec AMB or BQE. But the Acousticase comes with the pre-cut Acoustipack material, and if you take that into account there's not much difference price wise - especially since i'd want to change the PSU anyway.

Point taken on the Enermax PSU - maybe I should go with the 370W? Is it likely to make much difference volume wise? I was thinking of the future more, as I'm going to be using an old(ish) 64mb graphics card (i don't really play games) and my Audigy is the only other card I'll have in there.

Finally, if I was going to go for something like a Thermalright heatsink rather than the Zalman, would a Nexus 80mm fan be a good fan to put on it? I was a bit concerned because I read that the Nexus fans stop under 10v, which I assume means they don't push too much air even at 12v - and I don't want to risk overheating my CPU because the fan isn't good enough.

Posted: Thu Aug 12, 2004 11:19 am
by burcakb
The Zalman is so good you really needn't look any place else. I know there is little or no difference in the AlCu and Cu versions at low speed but I hope someone tests an AlCu at 3V and compare it to the Cu version. Maybe there may crop up a difference at such low speeds.

The Nexus fans are real quiet at 12V, don't worry about undervolting them. The 120mm fans push enough air.

Memorywise, I'd suggest you get 1 Gb right from the start. A64 likes as few memory slots filled as possible and really, Windows just absolutely loves memory so 1Gb will serve you longer. You don't need pairs on the A64, a single stick will do fine.

I also would love a Breeze review. From what I understand it's an excellent case but horrible for hdds. One can never be sure without testing though. Btw, I did a similar desing on another case (opened up a 120mm hole on the bottom and covered up the front intakes). Hdd temps did go up but less so as I moved the hdds up and the hdds are higher on the breeze so it just might work - at least as long as you don't suspend them.

Posted: Thu Aug 12, 2004 11:30 am
by MikeC
wombler wrote:Thanks for your help so far, can someone confirm though that the AOpen AK89 will definitely do Cool'n'Quiet? I'd be gutted if I buy it and it won't.
It does not do Cool'n'Quiet. I run an A64-3200 @ 1.4V and it stays pretty cool with a Zlaman 7000alcu at 5~6V. Have to increase case airflow these days w/ hot weather in Vancouver - 28~31C late afternoon in my room.

Posted: Thu Aug 12, 2004 5:06 pm
by wombler
Thanks Mike. Well, now I'm upset. See, I'm mostly keen on the AOpen because I can get one half-price (maybe i'll tell you where after I decide!) which probably means a saving of £40 ($60) over the Asus board I'd buy otherwise. Anyway, I'm sure I'd read someone on the SPCR Forum say it COULD do Cool'n'Quiet, so I went and did a bit of searching again, and sure enough: ... n+ak89+max (near the bottom)

So I delved further and found the following on the AOpen tech support forum (this is the best from a couple of posts about the same issue):

Topic: Cool'n'Quiet with AK89max works !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted to MOTHERBOARDS on 7/21/2004 3:26:08 PM by Helmut Auer

After a long time my AK89max now agrees to throttle the CPU when no load is there :-)
When searching through the forum I found a thread with the statement that C'n'Q will work with Bios 1.06h and 1.06m but only with one RAM Module.
But I never got this running.
Now I just tried the new 1.07c Bios and for the first time I found a BIOS option for Cool'n'Quiet !
Its hidden in the Advanced Chipset section in the RAM settings menu !
After I set this to Auto ( disabled is the default ), my linux system is now able to throttle the CPU to 800 Mhz and sometimes even the CPU fan stops !!!!
P.S: This setting is also available in older BIOS versions, but I didn't see it there !

I also read in another thread (which I now can't find) that only certain revisions of the AK89 will do Cool'n'Quiet - which leaves me wondering whether I should take the plunge, play around with some different versions of the BIOS and hope for the best. How hard did you try to get Cool'n'Quiet working Mike? I saw you mentioned in one thread that you'd like to have it, so if you as the guru definitely can't then I wouldn't rate my chances!

Posted: Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:13 pm
by Straker
this sounds really familiar; if this is the board I'm thinking of, AOpen had to finalize some of the design before getting complete info from AMD regarding the A64's memory controller. I'm not going to say much else because I'll end up getting something wrong, but from what I understand the bottom line is CnQ requires that all installed RAM be using the clock signal generated by the A64, which is apparently limited to 4 banks/2 dimms on a single channel (ie, s754) motherboard. Any additional slots (since most boards have 3) will be using a clock generated by the mb... and so you'll be able to use CnQ with at most 2 dimms, or one if you're unlucky and the manufacturer decided to use the mb clock for two slots.

Posted: Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:35 pm
by MikeC
wombler --

In all the BIOS versions I've had/tried, that hidden switch has always been blanked -- ie, you can't change the setting from DISABLED. But I had not tried for a month or two, so after I read your post, I went to check the AOpen site to find BIOS v 1.08!

So a few mins later, I have the new BIOS, and for the first time, set the CnQ to AUTO. :)

I have to check the make sure the AMD utility is loaded and so on, so will be back in a while...

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 1:41 am
by wombler
Excellent news Mike, fingers crossed that the rest works equally well.

How many sticks of memory do you use? My budget might just about stretch to 1gb, but i can either get one stick of vanilla or a pair of 512mb Crucial or Kingston Value - something I obviously don't want to do if it's going to permanently disable C'n'Q.

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 7:53 am
by MikeC
Bad news --

The CnQ is set to AUTO.

I downloaded AMD Athlonâ„¢ 64 Processor Driver for Windows XP, Version (exe) ... driver.EXE and it installed properly as far as I can tell.

But no utility I have shows the CPU speed ever dropping from 2.2 GHz. Not the My Computer / Properties, not CPU-Z, SiSoft SANDRA, etc.

I've asked for AOpen & AMD's help on this. We'll see what comes of it...

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 8:34 am
by wombler
I don't want to be accused of trying to teach a granny to suck eggs, but I assume you set the Windows XP power management to Minimal Power Management as well?

Other than that, bad news indeed. I was so pleased, and now i'm upset again. :( Let me know if you get any response from AOpen or AMD. I emailed AOpen about it yesterday, but no response yet - I guess as the owner of a highly influential hardware review site you might get a quicker response than me. :)

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 9:19 am
by MikeC
granny looks up with :!: and says, ah, so that's how you suck eggs! :lol: :lol:

wombler, thanks for that comment. As soon as I set Windows XP power management to Minimal Power Management, the CPU speed dropped to 989 MHz! Surprisingly, Vcore has not changed, it remains at 1.5V.

Still, my CPU temp is now at 34C -- this is the same temp as the SYS temp on the board, in a room that is now 27C.

Success at last!! :lol: 8) (I'll report on any changes to Vcore later)

PS -- When I turned folding @ home back on, CPU speed jumped right back up to 2.2 GHz. It really works...

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 6:57 pm
by wombler
I'm glad I dared to mention the XP Power settings then!

Anyway, just to follow up, as hopefully this thread will be useful for anyone else considering buying the AOpen AK89 Max m/b, I received the following reply from AOpen (I asked them whether the AK89 supported C'n'Q):

Hi David,

Thank you for your support on our motherboard and for taking your time to report the issue to us.

Due to certain limitations we do not fully support AMD¡¦s Cool and Quiet technology on our present Socket 754 motherboards, however this does not mean that it will not work. Knowing that certain customers still will need this, we have made the option of Cool and Quiet available in BIOS, they can enable it and made use of the feature but one factor should be considered, that is, only one memory module should be used for it to work properly.

I am hoping this will help Sir, have a nice day.

Best Regards,
AOpen Technical Support Division
August 14, 2004

On which basis I've just bought an AK89 (from in the UK - half price as used stock, but listed as opened/unused - bargain at £45, hope it works!). I also got a single 1gb stick of generic PC3200 DDR, so hopefully I shouldn't have any problems - I'll let you know how i get on with C'n'Q and the other things I've bought:

Athlon 64 3000
Zalman CNPS7000B-Cu
Acousticase C6607
Enermax Noisetaker 320W PSU
2x Nexus 120mm Case fans
Samsung SpinPoint P80 160GB SATA150

Out of interest, how many sticks of memory have you got on your AK89 Mike?

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 9:00 pm
by DryFire
incease anyone cares, that got cool n'quiet to work on my motherboard aswell. (chaintech vnf3-250).

I have 2 sticks of ram.

Posted: Sat Aug 14, 2004 6:06 am
by DryFire
Umm ok, well right after i posted this my computer crashed, cool n'quiet is definatly the culprit.

I tried upping the voltage adn running it at defautl it still was not working.

acousticase aesthetics and the search for the perfect case.

Posted: Sat Oct 09, 2004 3:29 pm
by dglevy
hey wombler, how does that acousticase look? is the front panel made out of plastic?

i'm looking to buy a really nice case but, you've heard the refrain before--i don't want to pay a lot of money! right now it looks like it's between the nexus breeze and the V-Tech EC-7105 which i found thanks to another discussion on this forum (thanks, bluefront!).

i will spare you all the gory details of how my last few weeks have been spent (wasted, more likely...) looking at literally hundreds of cases and barking up the wrong treees (i keep telling myself it was a 'learning experience'). if anyone has a suggestion on a good alternative to the above two, i'd appreciate it. obviously, every case has its pluses and minuses and one just has to settle on something. but both of these cases have major drawbacks. my criteria:
  1. cost without psu not more than ~$120 (that's US $. i assume there are many commonwealth citizens out there--in which case, hello to my fellow & sister colonists!!)
  2. good aesthetics--that means no cheap plastic (redundant phrase?) front panel or other cheesy-looking touches. silverstone and lian-li are obvious choices but they tend to be either too expensive or, see next item
  3. must be quiet--my impression is that using 120mm fans exclusively or almost exclusively will do the trick, hence my hesitation with the V-Tec
  4. must cool adequately--i'm only going to run an Athlon XP 2400+ (T-bred B core), one hdd & no agp card, but i would like to have the ability to upgrade down the road. what's more, we keep the house pretty warm in the summer (81 deg. F [27 deg. C]). hence, my hesitation with the Nexus
  5. must have exposed bays so that i can put fancy lights on it. check out this cool hdd activity meter, for an example.
  6. preferably, would have a side panel that comes on and off easily. the antec 160 was an excellent candidate, but that damned plastic front panel, as happened so many times before, threw me off.
  7. preferably, has been reviewed in a reliable forum, like SPCR or anandtech, where noise and temp are quantified and, preferably, compared with other makes
thanks in advance for any thoughtful, reliable advice folks can give.

--david levy
washington, dc

Posted: Sun Oct 10, 2004 11:48 am
by canthearyou
I notice that my ASUS K8N manual says CnQ compatible and does not mention any memory limitations. It does mention that you need a stock AMD heatsink with the temperature probe to fully use the feature.

I got 2 x 512MB Crucial, it was a bit cheaper than a single 1GB. I hope it won't foul things up.