AOpen's AK86-L is fine motherboard. Its appeal is broadened by a sub-?75 online price, rock-solid stability, and decent layout. More good is to be found in the excellent manual and easy-to-use BIOS. By factoring in the price, you could start a Socket-754 adventure with an outlay of as little as ?225 (?150 for a retail Model 3000+). Our numbers have shown the AK86-L to be an excellent performer, helped by the ability to run 2-2-2-6 latencies. The feature set is something that inevitably suffers when value is high on the list of priorities, but AOpen only really misses out on FireWire support and manages to include Gigabit Ethernet.
If evaluated in context of its intended pricing structure the AOpen AK86-L deserves to be included on at least a shortlist of boards. It doesn't particularly excel in any one area, but neither does it falter. An example of what sensible engineering and excellent documentation can create, the AK86-L is good enough for most users' needs. The low price is an added bonus that's kind of hard to pass up. Recommended.
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