Motherboards And Their Features - ABIT BX6
|Motherboard Revision||Version 2.03|
|Fan power connectors||3|
|External Clock(s)||66/75/83/100/112/117/124/129/133/138/143/148/153 MHz|
|6 Data Buffers||Acts as a sort of power enhancement to increase stability and integrity when using all 4 memory slots.|
Everyone has come to love the BX6 from ABIT. They were the first to develop a fully CPU configurable and jumper-less motherboard. Besides being the largest motherboard in this review the BX6 also includes 6 data buffers for the memory. These data buffers are typical for high-end server motherboards where large amounts of memory are installed (512 MB or greater). The buffers provide the main memory with a power enhancement to increase the stability when the motherboard is fully populated with memory (all 4 slots filled). As we have seen in our past reviews, this board is one of the top performers in the bunch. In addition to the BX6's great performance, it is also one of the best boards available for overclocking. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that all of the CPU settings (i.e. clock multiplier, and core voltages) can be adjusted via the BIOS. This board also provides numerous external clock settings. This board was designed with overclocking in mind. Our testing shows this to be one of the board's best features.
I have two small complaints with this product. The first is the labeling of the internal IDE connectors. Besides the fact that the BX6 doesn't have color-coded IDE connectors, the labels on the motherboard are extremely hard to read causing the user to plug the IDE devices into the wrong connector. I must also point out another small annoyance of this motherboard's layout.
If you look at the memory lock-clips (white levers) it is apparent that if you do not close them all the way, the lock-clips will cause the AGP adaptor to seat improperly. This could result in a damaged AGP graphics card or a support nightmare for the motherboard seller. (Note: we at Tom's Hardware do install a memory stick before testing :))
Motherboards And Their Features - ASUS P3B-F
|Motherboard Revision||Revision 1.03|
|Fan power connectors||3|
|External Clock(s)||66/75/83/100/103/105/110/112/115/120/124/133/140 MHz|
|Jumper Free BIOS Option||Allows CPU Overclocking and Voltage settings via the BIOS or JumperFree BIOS support can be disabled to prohibit the end-user easy access to these critical settings.|
ASUS's old P2B motherboard was known as one of the best performing products in the BX based motherboard market. Although the performance of this older board was stellar, it lacked some features that would really set it apart from the competition. ASUS recently went back to the drawing boards to improve the old P2B and created the new successor P3B-F. Probably one of the most missed features in the old P2B was a JumperFree setup. Configuring the old P2B required messing around with various jumpers to configure the CPU. The new P3B-F board now includes a JumperFree BIOS configuration. This allows the user the same ease of setup within the BIOS (i.e. clock multiplier, and core voltages). This feature was once only unique to the ABIT BX6. The unique option the P3B-F board brings to the table, is the ability to disable the JumperFree BIOS configuration. This ability is useful for system integrators or MIS departments that do not want to allow the user the ease of entering the BIOS and making configuration settings that might be harmful to the system (i.e. high voltage settings). It's nice to see that ASUS recognizes possible support problems and offers a way to disable the nice JumperFree option. As with the old P2B the new P3B-F provides top-notch performance. This board much like the ABIT BX6 is very overclockable. The ASUS provides the smallest increments with its external clock. This is a nice feature for a user interested in overclocking their system. Allowing small increments in the clock frequencies gives the user the ability to fine-tune their system (i.e. 105 MHz to 110 MHz to 112 MHz).
I only have a few complaints with the ASUS P3B-F. Although the IDE labels are better marked than the ABIT board, I would like to see ASUS use different colored connectors for the floppy and primary IDE connectors (such a white). This allows for a quick identification, of which connector is which. Regarding layout, I wish ASUS wouldn't have placed the floppy connector in front of the PCI slots. Routing the floppy cable around and over a full length PCI card makes the system look a bit cluttered. However, I much prefer the floppy in this location rather than behind the CPU on the back part of the motherboard. Another issue I found which might not affect all configurations, are the capacitors behind the CPU slot. They are a bit high for some of the older Celeron heatsink attach mechanisms.
In this picture one can see the Celeron heatsink attach mechanism touching the top of the capacitors. Simply bending the clips up alleviates this problem.
Motherboards And Their Features - BIOSTAR M6 TBA
|Motherboard Revision||Version 1.3|
|Fan power connectors||2|
|External Clock(s)||66/100 MHz|
The BIOSTAR M6 TBA board provides the standard set of features found on most BX based boards. This was the only board to provide 3 ISA slots and 4 PCI, instead of 2 ISA and 5 PCI that were default on all the other boards tested in this review. Also, all of the motherboard settings of this board are achieved via jumpers. This board was one of the slowest boards tested in our performance suite. Given the results in our test suite are so close the M6 TBA isn't far behind the other boards in the performance area. If you are interested in overclocking then this board isn't one for you. The M6 TBA automatically ID's the CPU and sets the frequency to the CPU's specification. However, I do like that BIOSTAR did use colored connectors to differentiate the floppy and primary IDE connectors.
I only wish that the power connector were located at the back of the board. Running the power cable to the already cluttered front (IDE & floppy cables) of the motherboard makes the inside of the chassis appear less tidy.