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Abit BE6 i440BX Motherboard (Page 2/3)

Posted: October 16, 1999
Written by: David "Spunk" Grampa
Estimated retail price: $119.99


Perhaps the most troublesome part of any new motherboard, is installation. This is basically because the motherboard is literally the base at which all other components plug-in. Obviously, this involves removing all your components, mounting the motherboard, and slapping all your components back in. Being the first motherboard review here at Tweak3D, I would like to say we disregard all that being that it is so with any motherboard.

Moving on, hardware installation was fairly simple- for a motherboard to say the least. There are a few placement issues I had with the motherboard's design, however. First of all, the ATX power supply connector is inconveniently located directly under where the actual power supply box is in most Mid-ATX cases. This makes for an uncomfortable, acrobatic procedure of wrapping the power cords under the power supply and dangerously close to the CPU. Although this will not cause problems in the long run, like I said, it's a little too close for comfort. Next is the placement of the PN1 and PN2 (Power LED, and Keylock Switch Headers). Located off to the bottom left corner of the mobo, some serious 'installational' stretching must be achieved in order to get them all hooked up before dinner... Just a few small design flaws that I noticed affecting hardware installation.

Software and Driver installation, on the other hand, made for a sweet, stress-free task. To get you up and going, the BIOS defaults fit most systems. Usually the only parameters that need changing are located in the Soft Menu II section of the BIOS where you define your processor. Your hamster can scroll through the options to find the correct speed of your processor along with clock frequency. Restart and you are on your way into Windows where PCI Bridge drivers and the rest are installed. One problem that I have heard occurring with this mobo lies in the HPT ATA/66 Controller chip and the BIOS. Reported Ultra ATA/66 Hard Disk detection errors stopped many from feeling the breeze of setup. I, however, did not encounter any of the such with my Western Digital ATA/66 Hard Drive. For the unfortunate, a fix is available at Abit's website right here. All in all, both software and hardware installation was none out of the ordinary.

ATA/66 versus ATA/33

Upon the arrival of this motherboard from Abit, many have said it is merely a less costly version of the BX6 r2. One of the main differences (besides the missing DIMM slot and lesser-guaranteed processor support) is on-board support for Ultra DMA/66 support, or as I like to refer to- ATA/66.

Ultra DMA/66 or ATA/66 is an IDE interface for hard disks capable of transferring at a theoretical rate of 66MB/sec. This is double the speed of most current ATA/33 devices. Inevitably, this advancement usually requires a controller card as older IDE buses do not support 66MB/sec, right? Yes, usually, but not with the BE6. Built-in ATA/66 support was added courtesy of HighPoint Technologies, alleviating the need for an ATA/66 controller card. This addition should not only excite those with ATA/66 capable hard drives, but also those IDE maniacs who pleasure themselves with four CD-Rom drives. Reason being that the technology ups the highest capable amount of IDE devices from four, to eight. Most will not take advantage of this added bonus, but it's nice to be aware of its presence. Here are a few benchmarks taken with HDTach between a Western Digital 6.4gig ATA/33 and Western Digital 18.4gig ATA/66 Hard Disk:

Ultra ATA/33 Ultra ATA/66 Performance Increase
Random Access Time 15ms 11.9ms 3.1ms (good)
Read Burst Speed 28.3mbps 57.9mbps +29.6mbps (good)
CPU Utilization 5.1% 6.2% -1.1% (bad)
Average Read Speed 11,456kbps 15,533kbps +4,077kbps (good)

Getting down to the facts, built-in ATA/66 support on the BE6 sets it apart from the rest of the Abit family and serves as good defense against the claim that the BE6 is simply a watered-down BX6 r2 pop. A rather nice feature implemented into the BE6 benefiting all those ATA/66 hard disk owners.

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