Thanks to delays of Intel's next generation i820 chipset and the sky high price of RDRAM, the i440BX chipset has survived a lot longer than anyone predicted. As a result, we're seeing a whole new generation of i440BX boards with almost every conceivable feature tacked on.
With features like integrated UDMA/66, the ABIT BE6 was one such board designed to tide us over until the i820 came along. With the launch of i820 now upon us, along with the aforementioned high cost of RDRAM, ABIT is back again with two more i440BX offerings - the BF6 and BE6-2.
New Anand Tech Report Card Rating 88/B+
|66 / 75 / 83 - 200 in 1MHz steps
|2.0x - 8.0x
Adjustable to 1.3V - 3.5V
|3 168-pin DIMM Slots
|0 AMR Slots
1 AGP Slot
6 PCI Slots (5 Full Length)
1 ISA Slots (1 Shared / 0 Full Length)
|Award 6.00PG w/ ABIT SoftMenu III
On the most basic level, think of the BF6 as the BH6 with an extra PCI slot and one less ISA slot. That means a 6/1/1 (PCI/ISA/AGP) slot configuration and 3 DIMM slots. As many motherboard manufacturers have learned, the 6th PCI slot can be added without the use of a PCI to PCI bridge, like that used on early 6 PCI motherboards. As a result, however, the 6th PCI slot is only a slave slot, meaning that no bus mastering devices will function in that slot, but something like a Voodoo2 will work fine. It should also be noted that, like most motherboards out there PCI slots 2 and 5 share an IRQ as do slots 3 and 6. PCI slot 4 shares an IRQ with the USB controller.
The sole ISA slot may be blocked from use with full length cards due to the placement of front panel I/O connectors. The shared PCI slot also cannot take a full length card thanks to the placement of a fan connector. Fortunately, the other 5 PCI slots are available for full length cards.
Unlike the last two i440BX boards to come from ABIT, the BE6 and BP6, this one does not feature an onboard UDMA/66 controller. There is a space on the PCB for such a controller, but that feature is reserved for the BE6-2, which shares the same PCB design.
That PCB layout is typical of ABIT boards - everything is right where it should be, with one exception - the ATX power connector. That power connector is unfortunately still placed behind the Slot-1 connector, forcing the power cable will have to run over the CPU and memory, reducing airflow to the CPU and cluttering up the inside of the system. Otherwise, all HDD/FDD connectors are located where they should be, right at the front of the board. Eleven 1500uF and four 1000uF capacitors is an improvement over what ABIT has provided in the past, although we saw little improvement in stability during our testing.