Other than those two key differences, the ZM6 performed identically to the ABIT BM6 in AnandTech's performance and stability tests.   As taken from the BM6 review, the conclusion to the benefits of the ZM6 are identical to those of the BM6, including stability.

The argument has been made that bigger capacitors in greater quantities on a motherboard is not necessarily better, and the truth of the matter is, that it is not.  The entire trend of assuming that bigger is better was actually brought about by an editorial written a few years back about a well-known motherboard manufacturer in which the company was praised for having such highly rated and stable products.  In response to the question why their boards were so stable, the classic response from the company was "well, we have bigger capacitors."  A statement that was backed up by the use of larger capacitors on their motherboards, a trait that continues to be seen on their products to date.  In reality, the "praising" editorial was nothing more than an attempt to appease the motherboard manufacturer in question, and the stability issues were overly exaggerated, the truth of the matter was that the motherboard manufacturer produced well made boards, and that was that. 

What is this brief story getting at?  The key to the effective use of capacitors on a motherboard isn't the size nor the population, rather the location of the capacitors.  The general rule of thumb is that so long as the signal present between any frequently "trafficked" components on a motherboard (those that are sensitive to fluctuations in voltage, etc...) retains its original strength, the operation of the board has a greater chance of being stable.   In order to ensure this, motherboard manufacturers place capacitors to keep the signal between two points on a motherboard both clean and strong, improving the stability and reliability of the motherboard, and thus explaining any issues that come up during the tests that could possibly be capacitance related.  ABIT's effective use of capacitors around the ATX power supply connector, Socket-370 interface, 443ZX controller chip, memory banks and AGP slot explain the results AnandTech's ZM6 sample exhibited during the stability tests.  Comparatively speaking, when pitted against the other Socket-370 based motherboards AnandTech has reviewed thus far, the ABIT ZM6 is on par with Microstar's MS-6153, as it crashed but once during the stability tests.

The rest of the motherboard's features are fairly standard to ABIT motherboards, for those of you that aren't familiar, the description of the board's SoftMenu II Jumperless CPU Setup and it's other features have been taken from the AnandTech BX6 Revision 2 Review:

As we have all come to expect from ABIT, the ZM6 features the latest and greatest version of their SoftMenu II Jumperless CPU setup.  With the BH6, ABIT introduced the ability to modify the SEL66/100# setting, enabling the user to effectively unlock the clock lock on 100MHz FSB processors running at the 100MHz FSB.  For example, the original Pentium II 350 only allowed a 3.5x clock multiplier when using the 100MHz FSB, making 400MHz impossible, and anything greater than 350MHz impossible without the use of a higher FSB setting (i.e. 112MHz).   Setting the SEL66/100# setting to "Low" allowed for the removal of this lock, giving many users the ability to run their 350MHz Pentium II processors at 100MHz x 4.0 or 100MHz x 4.5, and their 400MHz Pentium II's at 100 x 4.5.  The SEL66/100# feature has made its way into the SoftMenu II setup of the ZM6, however with a Celeron CPU, the usefulness is absolutely nothing as there won't be a 100MHz FSB Celeron processor for quite some time.

The ZM6 would have little to offer over the competition if it weren't for a few more modifications to SoftMenu II, ABIT's sole reason for existence right now in the overclocking market.  The ZM6's SoftMenu II brings a few new settings, such as the inclusion of the new higher frequency FSB settings (138MHz, 143MHz, 148MHz, 153MHz) as well as "in-between" settings such as the 110MHz and 120MHz options for those users that just can't seem to hit 112MHz or 124MHz with their systems.  The board also supports the 1/4 PCI clock divider with all > 100MHz FSB settings to keep the PCI frequency as close to the specified 33MHz setting as possible, for those with extremely tolerant PCI peripherals.

The AGP clock is also derived from the FSB frequency, and the ZM6's SoftMenu II does offer the ability to select from a 1:1 or a 2:3 FSB ratio for the derivation of the AGP frequency, keeping the clock as close to the rated 66MHz frequency as possible.  Complaining about ABIT not including any other AGP ratios is quite futile as the motherboard has nothing to do with the AGP frequency, which is actually stored in the chipset itself and only selected through the motherboard, leaving the 1:1 and 2:3 ratios as the only two options with the BX chipset.   It looks like we'll have to wait for Intel's 440JX (Camino) chipset before we can see any other AGP clock ratios. 

ABIT's highly regarded User's Manual makes its presence felt in the box of the ZM6 giving users a step-by-step installation and a configuration guide for their system.  The ABIT manual includes a fairly easy to read and useful explanation of the BIOS and CPU setup, and makes the overall experience with the new ZM6 (especially for first time system builders) a pleasant one.

The ZM6, as expected, also features ABIT's core voltage manipulation option which allows the user to select core voltage settings ranging from 1.30v to 2.30v in 0.5v increments, meaning the board will also support any upcoming Celeron processors based on the Katmai (Pentium III) core.  Don't worry, those won't be around for quite some time however.  Unfortunately, the overclockability of Celeron processors makes the usefulness of the 100MHz+ FSB settings on the ZM6 pretty useless, as there isn't a single Socket-370 Celeron processor (with the exception of the 300A) that even remotely has a chance of using the 100MHz FSB due to its locked clock multiplier, much less anything faster than 100MHz.

If it weren't for the fact that the ZM6 exhibited top notch stability (in comparison to other Socket-370 boards), ABIT would have been in a very bad position, with an overclocker's board, yet with nothing to overclock.   Luckily, the ZM6 is quite stable, and it's easy to setup nature makes it the ideal Socket-370 board provided that you are in the market for one.

Index The Bad & Features

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