ABIT BX133-RAID Motherboard

Nov 4th, 2000 | By

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ABIT BX133-RAID Motherboard


Date
: 11/4/00 – 07:27:46 PM

Author
:

Category
: Motherboard

Manufactor: ABIT

Price: $130

Thanks to MPL for supplying us with the BX133-RAID!! Thanx Geert :)

Introduction :

As we all know, The ABIT Computer Corporation is one of the world’s best mainboard manufactors who strive on the success of their superb overclocking enabled mainboards and the stability of their products, ranging up to sound equipment and 3D accelerators. This BX133 motherboard for Pentium III and Celeron Processors is based on the ‘good old’ Intel BX chipset. ‘OLD’ … you’ll say. I can agree with that but didn’t I also say ‘GOOD’?

As the most successful Intel chipset so far is nearly at the end of it’s life (or not?), we have to keep in mind that it’s outstanding performance has kept it alive for nearly 2 years now.

Since the BX133-RAID is one of the most popular BX boards available today, we decided to have a closer look at it. The BX chipset used to be the BEST, but is it still? Let’s try to figure that out …

Specifications :

I’ve always liked these specification figures from Abit :

CPU

1. Supports Intel Pentium III Socket based processor

2. Supports Intel CeleronSocket based processor

3. Reservers support for future Intel Pentium III/Celeron processor

Chipset

1. Intel440BX chipset (82443BX and 82371EB)

2. Supports Advanced Configuration and Power Management Interface (ACPI)

3. Supports AGP 1X/2X (Sideband)3.3V device

Ultra DMA 100

1. High Point HTP370 IDE Controller

2. Ultra DMA 100MB/Sec data transfer rate

3. RAID 0(stripping mode for boosting performance)

4. RAID 1 (mirroring mode for data security)

5. RAID 0 +1(stripping and mirroring)

Memory

1. Three 168-pin DIMM sockets support SDRAM module

2. Supports up to 1GB MAX. (8, 16, 32, 64, 128,256MB SDRAM)

3. Supports ECC

System BIOS

1. SoftMenu III Patent Technology and DIP switches to set CPU parameters

2. Award Plug and Play BIOS

3. Write-Protect Anti-Virus function by AWARD BIOS

4. Year 2000 Compliant

Multi I/O Functions

1. Two Channels of Bus Master IDE Ports supporting up to four Ultra DMA 33/66/100(up to 4 HDD devices)

2. Two Channels of Bus Master IDE Ports supporting up to four Ultra DMA 33 devices(up to 4 HDD devices)

3. PS/2 Keyboard and PS/2 Mouse Connectors

4. 1 Floppy Port (up to 2.88MB)

5. 1 Parallel Port (EPP/ECP)

6. 2 Serial Ports

7. 2 USB Connectors

Miscellaneous

1. 1 AGP slot, 5 PCI slots and 1 ISA slot

2. Hardware monitoring – Including Fan speed, Voltages,System environment temperature

3. Keyboard/Mouse/Password and Hot Key multifunction Power On.

4. Built-in Wake on LAN/Wake on Ring header

5. Built-in IrDA TX/RX header

My first impression :

Although the BX133 does not support many current (or at least upcoming) standards like PC133 memory support, AGP 4x compatibility and ATA66, Abit has added in some really nice items to compensate this and make the BX alot more competitive.

Compared to previous Abit BX mobo’s, the enhancements of the BX133-RAID are pretty noticable, starting with a HighPoint HPT370 ATA-100 RAID controller on-board. This allows the board to support the emerging ATA-100 standard, which is the fastest protocol available for IDE based drives, as well as offering the user enhanced RAID striping and mirroring capabilities … not bad at all.

To explain RAID in the simplest way, you could say it’s actually something that is related to your hard disk and allows you to enhance your I/O performance when using two or more hard drives at once.

RAID stands for ‘Redundant Array of Independent Disks’. In a RAID configuration, an ‘Array’ of 2 or more drives is created so that these drives are seen as 1 drive, meaning that your 2 or more disks do the work of 1.

The Second thing is that the BX133 is also designed around the FC-PGA format instead of the older PPGA.

Another cool element I noticed is that the BX133 uses Abit’s latest SoftMenu III, which allows Front Side Bus (FSB) speeds to reach up to 200Mhz in 1Mhz increments. Looks to me that these FSB speeds can never be reached but it’s nice to know that the motherboard supports it.

As you can see, there are only 3 RAM banks providing a max of (only) 768MB memory …

Problem :

I had some problems with properly installing my Golden Orb onto the CPU. However, it wasn’t the installation of the heatsink that caused the problem.The problem was that I couldn’t connect the fan’s powercable to the connector on the board because the Gorbs cable just wasn’t long enough. The reason for all these silly looking, but pain in the ass problems, is that Abit didn’t put a fan connector to the left of the CPU socket. I solved this problem by extending the fan’s powercable and putting it into the holes of a molex connector. :)

Overclocking :

The main downside to the BX133 is that the BX only supports a 2/3 AGP divisor. ‘What the hell does he mean by that?’, I can see you pondering this. Well, the 2/3 AGP divisor means that at an 133MHz FSB the AGP bus runs at 89MHz (instead of 66Mhz), which can result in an unstable video card. It’s also possible that your video card might not work at all, or worst of all it could even kill your precious bundle of joy(very unlikely). Fortunately, most newer video cards like the NVIDIA GeForce(2) can handle these high ranging AGP bus speeds.

Speaking of AGP, the BX133 only supports AGP2x, which might look slower compared to the current AGP4x standard offered by other chipsets such as the i815 and VIA 133A. But when taking a closer look, the difference in overall performance is negligible.

I was able to overclock my P3-700E to 933Mhz with ease. That put me up with an 133Mhz FSB and a 89Mhz bus speed up my Geforce’s ass. I was really afraid the poor thing wouldn’t hold that much stress but after a bit of testing, it looking pretty solid to me. So I tried to push the CPU, the mobo, the memory & the videocard a little further.7x143Mhz resulted in a rockstable 1001Mhz (@ 1.85v). Since my memory can’t go beyond 143Mhz (and still be stable, that is), and there’s no way to lower the memory speed apart from the FSB speed, I couldn’t push it further. What a shame, although a 143Mhz FSB isn’t bad at all for a chipset that was ‘officially’ designed for only an 100Mhz FSB.

One more interesting remark : I couldn’t POST when I put the RAM on CAS2. I had to use 3-3-3 settings.Strange huh?

Testing, benchings, aaaah we love it :

TEST SYSTEM :

SYSTEM SPECS :
CPU Intel P3-700E @ 980Mhz (7x140Mhz)
Mainboard Abit BX133-RAID
Chipset Intel BX Chipset
Video Creative Annihilator Pro Geforce DDR (6.18)
Memory 128MB PC133 (3-3-3)
Harddisk IBM 20GB UDMA66 @ 7200RPM
OS Win2k PRO

Sisoft Sandra 2000 PRO

Bla bla blaa, always the same boring benchmarks over ‘n over again …

I received much higher results on this BX chipset than on my previous I815E & VIA chipset based systems.

Same song here ….

Woooooow, I’d never ever dare to think a RAID system could get such a high score on this bench. I have to admit, the system runs damn fast. As I experienced myself, overall performance increases a lot when using a RAID configuration.

3D Mark 2k :

3DMark2k default benchmark
1024×768 16bit 4226

Mmmm … I was a little surprised when I got this figure from 3DMark, as it is quite low for this system compared to other mobos I’ve tested the past few weeks. Maybe the BX chipset can’t handle this high resolutions as well as the new I815E chipset … Let’s see what’s happening when running a Quake 3 timedemo …

Quake 3 Arena 1.17 Timedemo 1

These results are also pretty interesting! You can clearly see the BX chipset has problems with high resolutions as I already assumed when looking at the poor 3DMark score. At low resolutions (640×480 / 800×600) it blows away the competition, but when you’ve got a big monitor (like me) these resolutions just aren’t good enough. What’s the conclusion to all this? The BX133 is faster than the competition at low resolutions but quite a bit slower on those so badly wanted high ones.

Pros :

- Very nice BX performance

- Easy & stable overclocking (certainly with FSB < 133Mhz)

- ATA100 & RAID onboard

- Quite cheap

Cons :

- still the old BX chipset

- AGP divider limited to 1/1 and 2/3

- Only 3 DIMMs

Conclusion :

Everything put together, the ABIT BX133-RAID is still the fastest Intel chipset based motherboard out there with all the performance, stability and overclocking needs you could ever ask for. I say, stop complaining about the lack of AGP4x support, AGP divider, etc. and concentrate on the many great things this board has to offer.

Abit again has a definite winner on the mobo market!This is certainly true for the guys who hate the new Intel i815E chipset or VIA's Apollo chipsets, and who want to have ATA100, RAID, great performance, and stability for a great price.

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