The ECS P6BAP boards have hardware based PCI onboard sound. C-Media's CMI8738 chip is compatible with Directsound 3D and A3D 1.0. The chip supports four speaker out but neither board has the outputs for this. The website has full driver support for this chip including BeOS and Linux operating systems. Also included is an SPDIF header allowing you to connect digital devices after purchasing an ECS digital device

Both ECS boards feature Award's 4.51 BIOS. However, it has been modified quite a bit. For example ECS placed all of the overclocking options under the BIOS setup rather than chipset options. It would be nice if ECS had included Award's 6.00 PG BIOS, which is readily included on newer boards. The advantage of the 6.00 PG BIOS is its ease of use and a panel on the right offering explanations of the various settings. The ECS BIOS itself does not allow control over AGP ratio, memory speed which instead is set automatically by jumpers on the board. ECS included FSB settings of 66 / 75 / 83 / 100 / 103 / 112 / 133 / 140 / 150 MHz are all available via the BIOS.

Also, the P6BAP boards are able to force the 133MHz FSB setting via jumpers, which in turn forces the use of the 1:2 AGP ratio. This feature, unfortunately, is absent from some Socket-370 motherboards that simply use the 2:3 AGP ratio when the 133MHz FSB setting is selected, such as the Socket-370 interface on the Tyan Trinity 400. Unfortunately, this was the only way we could get the 550E to boot at 733, meaning that the FSB speeds were limited to just 133 MHz. Once forced to 133MHz, the FSB speed is locked meaning that 140 MHz and 150 MHz are not useable. Voltage control is also located in the BIOS and can be set in .5v increments from 1.30v to 3.5v.

After all is said and done, the stability of both P6BAP boards was above average in nonoverclocked situations. Because of the voltage tweaking options, overclocked stability was also above average. In terms of performance, the P6BAP-A+ scored a little lower in Sysmark and Winstone against the rest of the Apollo Pro 133 competition. See the marks in the round-up for Sysmark, Winstone and Quake III. After tweaking the voltage to 1.65 and forcing the FSB to 133 MHz via jumpers 4 and 5, the P6BAP-Me's performance was well below the other Apollo Pro 133 boards.

For hardware monitoring, the board sports the Genesys Logic 520SM, which provides minimal hardware monitoring. The 520SM monitors 4 voltages, 2 fan speeds, and CPU temperature via external thermistor but not the on-die thermal diode. An additional thermistor measures case temperature and is located in the bottom-right corner of the board. By only including two fan connectors, ECS chose to keep the price down instead of providing optimal cooling options. One is placed near the DIMM slots and one below the PCI slots.

Both of the motherboards came with identical packages. No printed manual included but was on the CD and was full of information including a detailed outline of the BIOS. The CD provided drivers such as VIA's 4-in-1 and all drivers for the built in hardware.

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  • Anonymous User - Saturday, October 11, 2003 - link

    The BIOS won't support hard drives greaterthan 32G. Is there a BIOS upgrade for bigger drives?

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