AOpen puts SO-DIMM spin on Core Duo desktop board
Akiba has spotted yet another (in Japanese, bring a translator) addition to the Core Duo desktop motherboard club. AOpen's i945GTm-VHL combines a 479-pin socket with two Serial ATA ports, PCI Express x1 and x16 slots, S/PDIF input and output ports, and three flavors of video output, all on a microATX board. In an odd twist, AOpen has eschewed standard DIMM slots in favor of a couple of SO-DIMM DDR2 memory slots. That's an unfortunate switch considering the price premium commanded by SO-DIMMs, but with the board expected to sell for the equivalent of $235, it's hardly a budget offering.
Like most Pentium M desktop boards, the i945GTm-VHL comes bundled with a low-profile processor cooler. However, the board also appears to use a standard Socket 478 heatsink retention bracket that should be compatible with a much wider range of aftermarket coolers. The same bracket can be found on AOpen's 975X-based i975Xa-YDG, which features a Core Duo-compatible socket, four standard DDR2 DIMM slots, and a pair of PCI Express x16 slots with CrossFire support. The i975Xa-YDG is actually available in North America, and is selling for just under $300.