The Abit BH6 440BX based motherboard

Monday, January 18, 1999

Introduction

>Since several months now, this motherboard is one of the most popular motherboard among Overclockers and performance amateurs. This computer products provided to us with the courtesy of SID Distribution Canada has a very interesting design and is offering a very high usability provided by its jumperless design. As a fact, the "Soft Menu" feauture of this motherboard is allowing to change all the processor settings including the multiplier, the Front Bus frequency and the core voltage directly from the BIOS control panel.


The board

The below picture is showing a very good view on the motherboard layout. However, even if this motherboard is of a very good design, it has some minor flaws. For instance, as we can see on the picture, the IDE connectors are placed one behind the other in an inverted order where the port 1 connector is behind the port 2 connector lying on the edge of the card. So, with the port 1 connector located behind the port 2 connector, it means that the main hard disk drive cable has to be placed behind the cable of the drives using the IDE port 2 and this has not been encountered on any other motherboard we've tested until now. Furthermore, the SB-Linkk connector is located between the PCI number 1 and number 2 slots which means that if both these slots are used that you will have to unplug the cards using these slots to gain access to this connector. On the other hand, the front panel casing accessories connectors are wrongly printed on the motherboard compared to the indications included in the users manual. So, the Keylock, Pwr-Led and Hdd-Led pins should not be used as indicated on the motherboard but as indicated in the users manual. However, the Pwr-Led pins polarities are inverted so we couldn't get this Led to operate with this board and again we never faced such a problem before with any of the other motherboards tested in the past. Finally, as you can see, there are only 3 memory banks and this is a bit deceiving because we would have highly appreciated an additional memory bank.

Note: Look at the bottom of the page
for the information corresponding to the picture numbers.


Installation

This motherboard is one of the easiest motherboard to install that we've seen. Its jumperless design means that there are no jumpers to set so it is only a matter of a few minutes to install this motherboard. Besides, the users manual included with this motherboard is not only one of the most beautiful we've seen but it is also one of the most detailed we've seen to date. Contrarily to all other motherboard tested until now on this site, the installation CD is not enclosed in a paper envelope but in a soft vinyl envelope.



Functionalities

Many missing functionalities not found on several motherboards are exactly those found in the BIOS Soft Menu of this motherboard and these functions are directly addressing to the processor itself. Thus, the front Bus frequency can be selected from a frequency choice going from 66Mhz to 133Mhz including: 66Mhz, 75Mhz, 83Mhz, 100Mhz, 103, 112Mhz, 124Mhz and 133Mhz but no provision to use 60Mhz. The multiplier values available are ranging from 2x to 5.5x in .5 steps but not beyond this value so it is not possible to use a 8X multiplier as it can be found on many motherboards. The processor core voltage can also be selected manually and adjusted in .05 and .1 volt steps. Some special features are also included and for instance it is possible to deactivate the signal detection "SEL100/66#" of the processor to use a different multiplier value than the one normally used by the processor but bear in mind that this feature may have no effects on some processors. A Turbo function is also available to give about 2.5% performance boost to the system. Finally, a function named "AGPCLK/CPUCLK" is allowing to set the AGP port frequency to the CPU Bus frequency. Normally, the Bus frequency is divided by 3 and multiplied by 2 to give a 66Mhz AGP port frequency but with this feature you can set a 1/1 AGP port frequency.



The Software Bundle

Among the software and programs included on the installation CD you will find the standard Intel Bus master drivers, BIOS flashing program, Win95 PCI bridge drivers and a low level hard disk drive formatting utility. The other applications are a screen saver, a users manual, an Acrobat reader, the Abit Web site and a freeware section including: PointCast Network and Inforia Quest98.


The tests were all performed under Win95 OSR2.

The system setup was as following:

Motherboard: Abit BH6
CPU: Intel Pentium II 350mhz
Memory: 128mb PC100 SDram (LGS)
IDE first channel Primary port: Quantum Fireball EIDE ST 3.2A
IDE second channel Primary port: AOpen CD-ROM drive CD-936E
PCI slot number 2: Matrox Mystique G200 16Mb AGP
ISA slot number 2: Ensoniq Soundscape soundcard
ISA slot number 1: US Robotic 56k X2 modem
OS: Win95B OSR2 4.00.950B
DirectX 6



Winbench98 CPUmark 32


The score obtainned by this motherboard is a little low in our opinion. As a fact, we would have expected something in the vicinity of 900 and over but it is not the case unfortunately.




Winbench98 FPU Winmark


No big deal here as all the motherboard tested have all reached a score of 1800.


Winstone98


The overall system performance using this motherboard as measured by Winstone98 were also a bit deceiving and we would have expected something a little higher even if the value obtainned by this motherboard are not bad at all.



Overall Quality Evaluation

The below evaluation table is showing the strong points and the weak points of the tested motherboard. No need to remember to you that we never buy a motherboard only for its performances. Most of today's motherboards are exhibiting performances very close to each others, so, we need additional information in order to help us distinguish what are the real advantages of a motherboard compared to the others and this is exactly where is coming into help this evaluation table.

Abit BH6

Features

Evaluation

Overall Circuit Board Quality

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

Printed Circuit Solder Quality

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

Component Layout

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

4

Socket and Connectors Quality

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

4

Capacitors Quality

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

Voltage Regulators Quality

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

Processor Retention Mechanism

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top grade

3

Extension Slots Expandability

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

Memory Expandability

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

4

Ease of Use

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

BIOS Setup Design Quality

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

Performance

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

3

Overclockability

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

Stability

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

Included Hardware

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

3

Bundled Software

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

4

Users Manual Quality

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

Warranty

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

4

Packing Quality

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

4

Pricing

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

Total Score obtained for this motherboard

88 points out of 100


The score obtainned by this motherboard is 88 pints out of 100 and this is a very good indication of the high quality of this motherboard. With this score, we can see that the strength of this motherboard are overcoming some of its weakness and this is what makes the difference between a good board and a bad one.


The strong points

The strong points of this motherboard are: its great ease of use, its impressive Overclockability, its great stability and its very well written users manual.



The weak points

The things we have disliked about this motherboard are: the poor quality of the processor retention mechanism, the errors between the motherboard layout and the users manual, the availability of only 3 memory banks instead of 4 and finally the questionable placement of the hard disk drives connectors. Even if the overall performance of this motherboard is not bad at all, we were expecting something better. Note that is looks like if some performance would have been voluntarily sacrificed to gain some more stability and we can't really complain about this because the stability of this motherboard is very hard to be taken in default.



Conclusions

As a conclusion, this motherboard appears to be very interesting especially when considering two points. The first point is the fact that this motherboard is one of the most (if not the most) easy to install for the newbies as it doesn't need no jumpers setting. The second point is concerning the fact that this motherboard is a real dream machine for any serious Overcloker by allowing every processor settings to be chosen directly from the BIOS Soft Menu. Finally, its ridiculous price tag is giving to this motherboard a very high price/quality ratio not often found on this market.

For any additional information, please visit the Abit wb site.

Distributed by computer hardware wholesaler.



Abit BH6 ATX Motherboard
Specifications
CPU
  • Supports Intel Pentium III 450~450MHz processor cartridge
  • Supports Intel Pentium II 233~450MHz processor cartridge
  • Supports Intel Celeron 266~433MHz processor cartridge
  • Chipset
  • Intel440BX AGPset (82443BX and 82371EB)
  • Supports Advanced Configuration and Power Management Interface (ACPI)
  • Supports AGP 1X/2X (Sideband)3.3V device
  • Memory
  • Three 168-pin DIMM sockets support SDRAM module. Supports up to 768MB MAX. (8, 16, 32, 64, 128,256MB SDRAM)
  • Expansion Slots
  • 1 AGP, 5 PCI, 2 ISA
  • System BIOS
  • CPU SOFT MENUTM II
  • Award Plug and Play BIOS supports APM, DMI and ACPI
  • Write-Protect Anti-Virus function Year 2000 Compliant
  • I/O Controller and Interface
  • PS/2 Keyboard and PS/2 Mouse connectors
  • One Floppy Port (up to 2.88MB)
  • One Parallet Port (EPP/ECP)
  • Two Serial Ports
  • Two USB Connectors
  • Built-in IrDA TX/RX header
  • Enhanced IDE
  • 2 x Ultra DMA/33 IDE ports (up to 4 devices)
  • Features
    ACPI Power Management
  • Wake-On-LAN, Modem-Ring-On
  • Power On by kbd, PS/2 mouse, RTC timer
  • Power-Off by Windows 98/95 shutdown
  • Miscellaneous
  • Hardware monitoring - Includes fan speed, voltages, CPU and system environment temperature,and one thermal header for other temperature monitoting
  • Keyboard and Mouse Wake Up
  • Built-in Wake on LAN header
  • One thermal sensor cable Included