Singapore Hardware Zone

ABIT BX6 Slot 1 Motherboard -- click to enlarge

ABIT BX6 Slot 1 Motherboard
Reviewed by Jereme Wong Jong Siang (09/08/98)

Motherboard Specifications

Processor

  • Intel Pentium II Processor 233MHz-366MHz (66Mhz).
  • Intel Pentium II Processor 350MHz-450MHz (100Mhz)
  • Slot 1 Socket for Future Expansion.

Chipset

  • Intel 440 BX chipset (82443BX and 82371EB)
  • Accelerated Graphics Port connector supports AGP 1x and 2x mode

Cache memory

  • CPU Built-in 256KB/512KB L2 cache for Pentium II Processor

System Memory

  • 4 x 168-pin 3.3v DIMM sockets support
  • Supports 8/16/32/64/128 MB DIMM Module
  • Supports EDO RAM, SDRAM (Support ECC, 72 bit)
  • Supports 8MB to 512MB DRAM Size
  • Supports 66/68/75/83/100/103/112/133 MHz System Clock Speed Setting
  • Supports 2.0--5.5 Multiplier Setting

PCI IDE

  • 2 X PCI Bus Master UDMA/33 IDE ports (up to 4 ATAPI Devices)
  • Supports for PIO Mode 3, 4, UDMA/33 IDE & ATAPI CD-ROM

I/O Interface

  • 1x floppy port (360KB-2.88MB)
  • 2x serial ports (16550 high-speed)
  • 1x parallel port (SPP/EPP/ECP)
  • PS/2 Keyboard
  • PS/2 Mouse
  • 2x USB

Expansion slot

  • 4 x PCI 32-bit slots, PCI 2.1 compliant
  • 3 x ISA 16-bit slots
  • 1x AGP (1x & 2x Mode,66/133MHz) slot

Power Management

  • Power On by PS/2 Keyboard, PS/2 Mouse, LAN, RTC Alarm, Modem Ring & Soft-Power Switch
  • Power Off by Windows 95 Shut down & Soft-Power Switch

Form Factor

  • ATX Form Factor, 4 layer PCB
  • Fits in Regular ATX Case
  • Double Deck ATX Back Panel

BIOS

  • 2 Mbit (256KB) FLASH RAM
  • Award PCI BIOS with Green, PnP, DMI, INT13 (HD>8.4)and Anti-Virus Functions
  • LS120, ZIP, ATAPI CD-ROM, IDE #1, #2, #3, #4 Bootable

<Introduction><The Good><The Bad><Conclusion><Rating>

Back to top


Introduction

I remembered vividly the experience I had with my first ABIT motherboard, the IT5h. It was my first socket 7 motherboard which had the Softmenu Setup integrated into the CMOS bios. Without having to open up the casing, I could tweak my system to my own delight by changing the multiplier as well as the bus speed settings inside the CMOS bios. In addition, the ABIT IT5h came with the 75MHz and 83MHz setting, which achieved the amazing feat of complete stability when I overclocked my Pentium Classic 200MMX to 250MMX @ 83x3 using 60ns EDO RAM. Ever since then, the name ABIT has a special place in my heart.

A few months later, the HX chipset was quickly replaced by the TX chipset which supported the UDMA 33mb/s. After which, when the first Pentium II chip arrived, the Slot 1 motherboards which used the LX chipset were also released to capture the first wave of eager users. ABIT made an entrance to the LX generation when they unveiled their LX6 motherboard which supports the unofficial 100MHz setting. However, the LX6 was also plagued with quite a few problems with the initial batch released to the consumers.

On April 15, with the release of the BX chipset, ABIT learned their mistakes by the invention of their newest creation of the BX6. Overclockers in the hardware scene were flocking to town to lay their hands on this motherboard. Every shops that sold the board were busy trying to bring in more stocks. What could then be the reason for this mad rush to purchase this motherboard? Let’s find out.

   Back to top


The Good

Like all other ABIT motherboards, the BX6 is a completely jumperless motherboard. This time round, it has upgraded its version of SoftMenu to SoftMenu II. Besides allowing users to tweak their clock speed and multiplier settings under the CMOS bios, ABIT has also included in this version of SoftMenu II, the ability to alter the VCore of the Pentium II. This unique feature which could not be found on most other Pentium II boards is the main selling point for this motherboard. Known to many overclockers, voltage tweaking is an old trick used to achieve stability at higher speed. By providing increments in steps of 0.1v from 1.30v to 3.2v, ABIT has provided the pathway to allow end users to push their Slot 1 chips into another dimension!

In addition, incorporated into the SoftMenu II Setup is a whole range of bus speeds (75MHz,83 MHz,100 MHz,103 MHz and 133 MHz ) besides the two official 66MHz and 100MHz setting. This allows overclockers to have a whole range of combination of settings to play around with, in the process of pushing the limits of your already overclocked system.

Another feature which is not commonly found on other BX motherboards is the 6-chip Texas Instruments Data Buffer which provides additional stability when all of the 4 DIMM slots are filled up. However, if you only have 1 – 3 DIMMs installed, the Data Buffer serves no extra purpose at all.

The Test

A Pentium II 266 Klamath and a Pentium II 400 Deschutes were used for testing with the ABIT BX6. For all the tests conducted on both chips, I couldn't push the board above the 112MHz setting. This was probably due to the -GL Samsung ram which I used. It was really a pity not to be able to test out the 133MHz setting. As for the Klamath chip, I managed to push it to 360 @ 103x3.5. However the system hanged after running Wintune 98 for the second time. My next test was the 112MHz setting. The highest speed achieved was 336 @ 112x3. I had to increase the VCore setting to 2.9V for the system to run smoothly for my tests. My best setting for the Pentium II 266 chip was at 100x3.5 which yeild a clock speed of 350MHz. I did not have to step up the CPU VCore setting and the chip was relatively cool running under Windows 98.

As for the Deschutes Pentium II 400 chip, the processor seemed to be frequency locked at 450MHz. There was no way in which I could push the chip above the 450MHz barrier even with the wide range of bus speed settings the BX6 offered. The successful overclocks for this chip was 412 @ 103x4, 448 @ 112x4 and 450 @ 100x4.5. The last two settings had to be done at 2.1V for the system to go through the Wintune 98 tests.

Test Configuration

Processor(s): Pentium II - 266 & 400 Retail
RAM: 2 - 64MB Samsung PC100 SDRAM DIMM
Hard Drive(s): IBM DeskStar V 6.4Gb
Video Card(s): Diamond Viper V330 (4MB SGRAM - PCI)
Bus Master Drivers: Windows 98 Bus Mastering Drivers
Video Drivers: Diamond Viper V330.4.10.01.0127
Operation System(s): Windows 98 (build 4.10.1998)

Wintune 98 Result for Intel Pentium II 266 Mhz @ 4 x 66 Mhz

CPU (1) Intel Pentium II with MMX@266 MHz
Video Board Diamond Viper V330
Video Mode 1152x864@16bits/pixel
RAM 128 MB
OS Windows 98 4.10.1998
Area Tested Value
CPU Integer 754.3522 MIPS
CPU Floating Point 303.7007 MFLOPS
Video(2D) 56.89913 MPixels/s
Direct3D 55.76044 MPixels/s
OpenGL 50.41193 MPixels/s
Memory 465.1168 MB/s
Cached Disk 54.67955 MB/s
Uncached Disk 2.625442 MB/s

Wintune 98 Result for Intel Pentium II 266 Mhz @ 3 x 100 Mhz

CPU (1) Intel Pentium II with MMX@300 MHz
Video Board Diamond Viper V330
Video Mode 1152x864@16bits/pixel
RAM 128 MB
OS Windows 98 4.10.1998
Area Tested Value
CPU Integer 849.4602 MIPS
CPU Floating Point 343.9947 MFLOPS
Video(2D) 66.15624 MPixels/s
Direct3D 59.33626 MPixels/s
OpenGL 51.76382 MPixels/s
Memory 532.586 MB/s
Cached Disk 63.46759 MB/s
Uncached Disk 1.663153 MB/s

Wintune 98 Result for Intel Pentium II 266 Mhz @ 3 x 112 Mhz

CPU (1) Intel Pentium II with MMX@333 MHz
Video Board Diamond Viper V330
Video Mode 1152x864@16bits/pixel
RAM 128 MB
OS Windows 98 4.10.1998
Area Tested Value
CPU Integer 950.5728 MIPS
CPU Floating Point 384.6728 MFLOPS
Video(2D) 78.47332 MPixels/s
Direct3D 61.8451 MPixels/s
OpenGL 52.91261 MPixels/s
Memory 597.3259 MB/s
Cached Disk 73.13657 MB/s
Uncached Disk 2.070476 MB/s

Wintune 98 Result for Intel Pentium II 266 Mhz @ 3.5 x 100 Mhz

CPU (1) Intel Pentium II with MMX@350 MHz
Video Board Diamond Viper V330
Video Mode 1152x864@16bits/pixel
RAM 128 MB
OS Windows 98 4.10.1998
Area Tested Value
CPU Integer 990.9175 MIPS
CPU Floating Point 400.9974 MFLOPS
Video(2D) 78.58519 MPixels/s
Direct3D 61.11833 MPixels/s
OpenGL 53.06387 MPixels/s
Memory 617.3725 MB/s
Cached Disk 73.50154 MB/s
Uncached Disk 2.024318 MB/s

Wintune 98 Result for Intel Pentium II 400 Mhz @ 3.5 x 112 Mhz

CPU (1) Intel Pentium II with MMX@400 MHz
Video Board Diamond Viper V330
Video Mode 1152x864@16bits/pixel
RAM 128 MB
OS Windows 98 4.10.1998
Area Tested Value
CPU Integer 1111.97 MIPS
CPU Floating Point 446.5118 MFLOPS
Video(2D) 86.5192 MPixels/s
Direct3D 63.83429 MPixels/s
OpenGL 53.33064 MPixels/s
Memory 660.3087 MB/s
Cached Disk 76.0716 MB/s
Uncached Disk 2.575691 MB/s

Wintune 98 Result for Intel Pentium II 400 Mhz @ 4 x 103 Mhz

CPU (1) Intel Pentium II with MMX@401 MHz
Video Board Diamond Viper V330
Video Mode 1152x864@16bits/pixel
RAM 128 MB
OS Windows 98 4.10.1998
Area Tested Value
CPU Integer 1153.809 MIPS
CPU Floating Point 472.1543 MFLOPS
Video(2D) 82.77888 MPixels/s
Direct3D 62.10629 MPixels/s
OpenGL 53.00167 MPixels/s
Memory 694.1835 MB/s
Cached Disk 76.81637 MB/s
Uncached Disk 2.821603 MB/s

Wintune 98 Result for Intel Pentium II 400 Mhz @ 4 x 112 Mhz

CPU (1) Intel Pentium II with MMX@437 MHz
Video Board Diamond Viper V330
Video Mode 1152x864@16bits/pixel
RAM 128 MB
OS Windows 98 4.10.1998
Area Tested Value
CPU Integer 1256.709 MIPS
CPU Floating Point 514.1469 MFLOPS
Video(2D) 88.48017 MPixels/s
Direct3D 63.85499 MPixels/s
OpenGL 53.59826 MPixels/s
Memory 756.9976 MB/s
Cached Disk 82.34076 MB/s
Uncached Disk 2.670981 MB/s

Wintune 98 Result for Intel Pentium II 400 Mhz @ 4.5 x 100 Mhz

CPU (1) Intel Pentium II with MMX@437 MHz
Video Board Diamond Viper V330
Video Mode 1152x864@16bits/pixel
RAM 128 MB
OS Windows 98 4.10.1998
Area Tested Value
CPU Integer 1271.151 MIPS
CPU Floating Point 514.3904 MFLOPS
Video(2D) 84.97449 MPixels/s
Direct3D 62.13504 MPixels/s
OpenGL 54.05749 MPixels/s
Memory 754.6826 MB/s
Cached Disk 87.57407 MB/s
Uncached Disk 2.665584 MB/s

Back to top


The Bad

The only uneasy feeling the BX6 left me was when the system refused to boot up after a change to the CPU Parameters under the SoftMenu II setup. It would take a few manual reboots to reset the whole system to its basic setting. A point to take note of is that the temperature monitoring system under the CMOS setup is not an accurate gauge of the CPU's temperature. The LM79 chip which ABIT used for the thermo-monitoring did not appear to directly support CPU temperature monitoring.

Back to top


Conclusion

Of all the boards I have heard about in the PC arena, the BX6 fits the closest description of an overclocker's dream board. With its jumperless design and a wide range of supported bus speed settings, users are free to experiment for themselves the best setting for their chip without having to open up their casing to set any jumpers. Although the board comes with a rather pricey price tag, it would be your best choice if you are an avid overclocker with a Slot 1 chip.


MOTHERBOARD RATING

Overall Rating (Out of a maximum of 5 Star)

Installation ****
Performance ****
Price ***
Overclockability *****
Material Quality *****
Stability *****
Overall Rating ****1/2

Copyright 1998 by Singapore Hardware Zone. All rights reserved.

None of the above shall be reproduced, copied and/or
modified without the permission of the WebMaster.