Writeup: AOpen i945GMm-HL shenanigans

AOpen i945GMm-HL – The Retro Web

Welp. This board is weirder than I ever thought it’d be. Not the board in general, but the specific one I bought.

To begin, it turns out that my particular board, and likely many others of the same model, are OEM-customized boards that AOpen provided to a little company called RM Education. They make all-in-one PCs for the UK market.

…And they are using evaluation BIOSes (in other words, BIOS software that’s normally only meant for prototyping and… well, evaluation) in their retail boards.

My specific board contains BIOS version R1.08, which is actually R1.02 apparently. There is evidence of an R1.07 existing as well from a reddit thread on the r/buildapc subreddit, but I doubt that it’s been dumped anywhere.

Moving on to the original point of this writeup, I got this board because I wanted to build a system that pushed the 32-bit Core Duo T2700 as far as possible, meaning I needed a mobile-on-desktop board. AOpen built a reputation for doing this sorta stuff in the 2000s, so I went ahead and picked one of their boards for use (although I would’ve much preferred using the top of the line AOpen i975Xa-YDG instead if it were being sold anywhere. That’s a VERY tasty looking board with its full size DIMM slots and SLI-compatible dual PCIe x16 slots and ability to crank the FSB all the way to 305MHz).

Slightly surprisingly, the Core Duo T2700 is quite the overclocker! It’s able to push from 2.3GHz all the way up to 2.7GHz with some FSB overclocking using the SetFSB tool. It’s multiplier-locked to a range from 6.0 to 14.0, so I can only push it through this means.

The board I’m using, the AOpen i945GMm-HL, supports running the FSB up to 195MHz. It’s okay-ish in terms of stability, but crashes when running Aida64 benchmarks unless I loosen the memory timings from the 5-5-5-15 settings that it uses at 333MHz to 5-6-6-18, which is just the tiniest bit faster than its stock settings for 400MHz operation by SPD. With these settings, it’s much more stable and is able to run the benchmarks, though unless I lower the FSB from 195MHz to 190, it will consistently crash Chrome when trying to play Youtube videos on integrated graphics. I’ll likely experiment some to see if adding a card capable of handling the video playback in hardware helps.

For now, this is all for this blog post. Follow-up posts may be made as experimentation progresses. As follows are the specs of the system:

  • AOpen i945GMm-HL (OC’ed from 166MHz FSB to 195MHz, 190MHz for more stability)
  • Intel Core Duo T2700 @ 2.7GHz (OC’ed from 2.3GHz)
  • 2x 2GB Crucial DDR2 SO-DIMMs @ 5-6-6-18 timings
  • Some random 40GB Hitachi hdd lol
  • Windows XP Pro SP3, fully updated via LegacyUpdate
  • Supermium Browser (fork of Google Chrome and the reason why I was able to test Youtube playback in the first place)

Coming up: Installing One-Core-API and Java 21 to play Minecraft 1.21 on a 32-bit system out of spite for Microsoft “dropping support” for 32-bit CPUs.

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