Abit has followed their phenomenal success with the LX6 by producing another quality motherboard, as well as some additional innovation. Their much emulated SoftMenu feature has now incorporated the ability to select voltages through the BIOS. While this feature is of limited value currently, it is possible that future .18 micron processors may be able to take advantage of it. There are a few minor limitations that make the board slightly less desireable than either the AX6B or the SY-6BA, but it’s lower price makes up for this.
The BX6 is an ATX form factor board with 3 ISA, 4 PCI and 1 AGP slot. Like the AX6B, this is a relatively conservative design which should satisfy most users, other than those moving towards PCI modems and sound cards. The one noticable feature that is lacking is the SB-Link connector, which will prevent using the full features of the Creative Labs PCI sound card.
One other area that is lacking on this board is that only 512MB of system RAM is supported in 4 DIMM slots, though it will accept either SDRAM or EDO modules. The maximum cacheable memory was unknown at the time of this writing, but should included in a future update. The standard 2 EIDE and 1 floppy connector are included, along with 1 Parallel, 2 Serial and 2 USB connectors, as well as an IrDA header. The keyboard and mouse connectors are the PS/2 style.
As they have done so well in the past, Abit has included a full range of system bus speeds and CPU clock multipliers, all of which can be set via the BIOS. The user can choose either the ‘standard’ settings (i.e., 233MHz, 266MHz, 300MHz, etc.) or ‘user defined’. The latter setting provides bus speeds of 66, 68.5, 75, 83.3, 100, 103, 112 and 133MHz as well as multipliers from 1.5x through 5x in .5x increments. This allows for a wide range of processor speeds for experimentation.
The BX6 includes the standard monitoring features, including CPU Thermal Protection, Voltage Monitoring and Fan Monitoring for better protection of your CPU and components. No reference to Wake-Up-On-Ring, or LAN Wake-up was noticed in the documentation, though we might have overlooked it. The monitoring features are sufficient for most, though AOpen has many more options in this area.
Cool and/or Unique Features
Abit’s new SoftMenu II allows the user to select the Core voltage for the processor, as well as the bus speed and multipliers. This is obviously geared towards the overclocking set, and should gain some staunch supporters.
As with most ATX motherboards, the layout here is pretty standard, except for one disturbing thing. For some reason, ABIT decided to position the DIMM slots right on the front edge of the board, which will cause some problems for those with smaller cases. The drive bays may prevent using these slots completely, or even may render the lower drive bays unusable. This is a serious design flaw, in our opinion.
Compatibility & Stability
Processor support is not much of an issue, considering the limited options available at this time. Full support for Pentium II processors from 233MHz through 450MHz is included, with possible support for future offerings.
One of the highly touted features of this motherboard has been the 6-chip TI data buffer. Though we cannot attest to it’s usefulness, the board will accept 4 DIMM modules without any problem.
We were able to run complete Winstone tests using bus speeds as high as 112MHZ, depending upon which processors were used. The only real performance related option in the BIOS is the CAS latency timing, which can be set to either ‘2’ or ‘3’. The benchmark results were on par with the other BX boards we tested, both at standard bus speeds and at the higher bus frequencies.
Abit has provided a very nice set of documentation for the BX6. Not only is a well written user manual included, but they have also included a CD with full documentation. Abit has once again provided some of the best documentation of any manufacturer.
Abit has gotten most of the attention with their previous offerings, and for good reason. In this case, we believe that while the BX6 is a very good board, you will find that there are some minor features that have been left out, which other manufacturers have included. On the other hand, the lower price of this motherboard does make it an attractive product. All in all, you can’t really go wrong in chosing this motherboard.
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