Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/142
Chaintech is back once again with a hit on their hands, their first entry into the BX arena is definitely a knockout, the 6BTM follows in the Chaintech tradition impressing this review site with a highly overclockable nature, rock solid stability, and not to mention their first class quality and extreme attention to detail. Let's take a closer look at this threat to the slowly weakening thrones of the current top three motherboards from ABIT, AOpen and ASUS.
Anand Tech Report Card Rating 95/A
|L2 Cache||N/A (on-chip)|
|Bus Speeds||66 / 75 / 83 / 100 / 103 / 112 / 133 MHz|
|Clock Multipliers||2.0x - 5.0x|
|Voltages Supported||1.5v - 3.5v (Auto Detect)|
|Memory Slots||4 168pin DIMM Slots (SDRAM)|
|Expansion Slots||1 AGP Slot
4 PCI Slots
3 ISA Slots (1 Shared / 3 Full Length)
|BIOS||Award PnP BIOS|
|With BX motherboards there are basically two paths you can take, the more popular 4/3/1/x configuration, meaning the board is equipped with 4 PCI, 3 ISA, 1 AGP, and either 3 or 4 DIMM slots. Then there is the slightly less popular 5/2/1/x configuration, providing users with 5 PCI, 2 ISA, 1 AGP and once again, either 3 or 4 DIMM slots. Chaintech chose the first and "safer" avenue of travel for their BX motherboard, overall it is a more "one size fits all" approach to constructing a motherboard since there are quite a few users that still want those precious ISA slots on their boards while keeping a fairly roomy 4 PCI slots for more advanced upgrades. The 4 DIMM slots on the 6BTM will accept just about any type of SDRAM you stick in them, however if you plan on making it past the 75/83MHz settings you should plan on using some higher quality 100MHz or preferably PC100 SDRAM.|
The ATX 6BTM looks a little different in comparison to the more conventional BX boards out there that feature the same expansion capabilities as Chaintech's board. The biggest difference seems to be the Slot-1 SEC Slot, instead of packaging a CPU Retention Support Kit with the motherboard and risking possible damage during the installation of the kit (if you've never built a Pentium II system it can be a bit intimidating at first), Chaintech chose to build a collapsible support onto the board itself. Some other manufacturers have chose this route, among those are Soyo and Epox with their 6BA and BXA respectively.
Arriving in this market with a ABIT-Like attractive box bearing the Chaintech Logo and sure enough it also carries the label "We don't imitate, we innovate." Inside the box you'll find the standard Chaintech frills, including the most important object in there (aside from the board itself), the First Class Chaintech Manual. From cover to cover, the 54 page User's Manual includes everything from a section on how to overclock, a description of just about everything on the board (including the elusive SB-Link which "serves as a bridge between the mainboard and Creative's PCI Sound Card. This connector delivers Sound Blaster 16 compatibility for real-mode DOS games." Now how many of you didn't know that until the Chaintech manual told you? ;)...). The manual even provides you with mounds of contact information just in case you feel so obliged as to give the folks over at Chaintech a call.
Following in the unwritten "BX Code of Law" the 6BTM from Chaintech puts the Serial Presence Detect on PC100 SDRAM to good use by displaying a little message during the initial bootup process recommending what CAS Latency your SDRAM was meant to be run at. The Award BIOS on the 6BTM features Chaintech's Jumperless CPU Setup, uniquely named, SeePU Setup which allows you to choose from the standard pre-defined CPU settings (233, 266, 300/66, 300/100, 333, 350, 400) or manually select the bus speed/clock multiplier from the supplied 66 - 133MHz and 2.0x - 5.0x settings respectively.
The Chaintech 6BTM, like the ASUS P2B, features Virus protection in the BIOS, specifically the 6BTM shows off its new Trend ChipAway Virus Protection which helps prevent Boot Sector Viruses from activating prior to the boot process. It should be mentioned that this still doesn't replace a real anti-virus program, it only helps prevent Viruses from infiltrating your system. In addition to activating the ChipAway Virus Protection, the 6BTM lets you know the CPU Microcode and additional information about your CPU, nothing really important to the average user, but it is nice to know that Chaintech decided to include it "just in case."
Stability and Chaintech are almost synonymous in that you shouldn't expect this board to plague you with any instability problems, even when overclocking. The 6BTM fails to bridge the performance gap between the competition and the ASUS P2B, but it does perform quite competitively.
If you happen to have an older Pentium II you may want to look for a different motherboard, as the "cute" SeePU Setup Configuration disables all bus speeds above 83MHz if you happen to use a 66MHz Pentium II or Celeron processor, sorry guys, you're out of luck.
- 5/5/98 - Using Chaintech's Newest BIOS, the 6BTM allows you to clock your 66MHz Bus Pentium II at the 100MHz bus speed, making this board more of a top contender.
Chaintech 6BTM Chipset Features Setup
|EDO/SDRAM 66/75/83MHz Bus||SDRAM 100/112MHz Bus||Safe|
|SDRAM CAS Latency Time:||2||3||Auto|
|DRAM Data Integrity Mode:||Non-ECC||Non-ECC||Non-ECC|
|System BIOS Cacheable:||Enabled||Enabled||Disabled|
|Video BIOS Cacheable:||Enabled||Enabled||Disabled|
|Video RAM Cacheable:||Disabled||Disabled||Disabled|
|8 Bit I/O Recovery Time:||1||4||4|
|16 Bit I/O Recovery Time:||1||2||2|
|Memory Hole At 15M-16M:||Disabled||Disabled||Disabled|
|AGP Aperture Size (MB):||64||64||64|
Recommended SDRAM: Corsair PC100 SDRAM; Memory
Man PC100 SDRAM
SDRAM Tested: 1 x 64MB Corsair PC100 SDRAM; 1 x 64MB Memory-Man PC100 SDRAM
Manufacturer: Corsair Microsystems
Purchase Web-Site: http://www.nf-ny.com
Manufacturer: The Memory Man
Purchase Web-Site: http://www.memory-man.com
In recent times, choosing a motherboard cannot be completely determined by a Winstone score. Now, many boards come within one Winstone point of each other and therefore the need to benchmark boards against each other falls. Therefore you shouldn't base your decision entirely on the benchmarks you see here, but also on the technical features and advantages of this particular board, seeing as that will probably make the greatest difference in your overall experience.
How I Tested
Each benchmark was run a minimum of 2 times and a maximum of 5 times, if the motherboard failed to complete a single test within the 5 allocated test runs the OS/Software was re-installed on a freshly formatted Hard Drive and the BIOS settings were adjusted to prevent the test from failing again. All such encounters were noted at the exact time of their occurrence.
Business Winstone 98 was run at each individually tested clock speed, if reliable scores were achieved with the first two test runs of the suite an average of the two was taken and recorded as the final score at that clock speed. If the test system displayed erratic behavior while the tests were running or the results were incredibly low/high the tests were re-run up to 5 times and an average of all the test runs was taken and recorded at the final score at that clock speed
After each motherboard was tested a complete format of the test hard drive was initiated and the OS/benchmarking software was re-installed afterwards a defragment was initiated using Windows 95's Disk Defragmentation Utility
Tests using AGP Video cards were run under Winstone 97 and Winstone 98
No foreign drivers were present in the test system other than those required for the system to function to the best of its ability
All foreign installation files were moved to a separate partition during the test as to prevent them from effecting the test results
All tests were conducted at 800 x 600 x 256 colors
|Processor(s):||Pentium II Celeron - 266 OEM
Pentium II - 300 Retail
Pentium II - 400 OEM
|RAM:||1 - 64MB Corsair PC100 SDRAM DIMM
1 - 64MB Memory Man PC100 SDRAM DIMM
|Hard Drive(s):||Western Digital Caviar AC21600H|
|Video Card(s):||Matrox Millennium II (4MB WRAM - AGP)|
|Bus Master Drivers:||Intel v3.01|
|Video Drivers:||MGA Millennium 4.03.00.3410|
|Operation System(s):||Windows 95 Service Release 2.1|
Ziff Davis Winstone - Windows 95 Performance
|Business Winstone 98||Business Winstone 97|
|Intel Pentium II - 300 (66 x 4.5)||---||65.4|
|Intel Pentium II Deschutes - 350 (100 x 3.5)||23.3||69.9|
|Intel Pentium II Deschutes - 400 (100 x 4.0)||24.8||74.4|
|Intel Pentium II Deschutes - 448 (112 x 4.0)||25.5||76.3|
|Intel Pentium II Celeron - 266 (66 x 4.0)||---||52.4|
--- Not Run
Chaintech did an above average job with the 6BTM, unfortunately their decision to limit the overclocking of their first BX board by disabling the 100MHz+ bus speeds with 66MHz Bus Pentium II CPU's will keep this board from rising to the top among the best of the best, if you don't care about that feature however, then the 6BTM becomes a much more appetizing motherboard...especially because of its hefty feature set, ignoring the price may be a little more difficult.