VOGONS


Abit VT6X4 MoBo vs. Abit BE6-II

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First post, by C0deHunter

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Dear all,
i have acquired both of these motherboards (with PIII SLOT1 CPUs included in the package), and wanted to know your opinions about them:

Which one is newer?
Which one should I start building a system out of?
A website that I can download the motherboard drivers?

many thanks in advance!

EDIT:
Found this thread:
Socket 370 - VIA Apollo Pro 133 vs Intel 440BX

And some useful links:

VT6X4
http://www.kickassgear.com/Reviews/AbitVT6X4.htm
http://www.kickassgear.com/Reviews/AbitVA6.htm
https://www.anandtech.com/show/491/12

BX
https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/showdown … hz-fsb,170.html
http://www.hardware-one.com/reviews/be62/index.shtml
https://www.extremeoverclocking.com/reviews/m … E6-II_v2_2.html
https://www.anandtech.com/show/556/7

PIII-800E | Abit BH-6 | GeForce FX 5200 | 256MB SD-RAM PC100 | AWE64 Gold | Sound Canvas 55 MKII | SoftMPU | 16GBGB Transcend CF as C:\ and 64GB Transcend CF D:\ (Games) | OS: MS-DOS 7.1-Win98SE-WinME-Win2K Pro (multi-OS menu Using System Commander 2K)

Reply 1 of 22, by soggi

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Hey CodeHunter,

first I want to describe the two boards...

ABIT VT6X4:
VIA Apollo Pro 133A (VT82C694X / VT82C686A), FSB 133, UDMA/66, 1.5 GiB RAM max., latest BIOS from 2001/02/19

ABIT BE6-II / ABIT BE6 V1.2 / ABIT BE6-II V2.0:
Intel 440BX (82443BX / 82371EB), FSB 100, UDMA/33 (UDMA/66 [UDMA/100 and RAID] through onboard HighPoint HPT366 [HPT370]), 768 MiB RAM max., latest BIOS from 2001/12/03 (please take care of the revision [BE6-II / BE6-II V1.2 / BE6-II V2.0])

The VT6X4 is a bit newer (early 2000) than the BE6-II (late 1999), but the latter seems to be more mature if you look at the number of BIOS versions which have been released. I guess the BE6-II has been sold a lot more then the VT6X4 and therefor there were more bugfixes (etc.) to the BIOS.

If you need the latest BIOS versions for one or both (downloads are defective on the above linked abit.ws website [abit.com.tw mirror]!), you'll find them on my website -> https://soggi.org/motherboards/abit.htm.

The latest Intel 440BX and HighPoint HPT366 / HPT370 drivers (depends on wether you have a BE6-II, BE6-II V1.2 or BE6-II V2.0) are available under https://soggi.org/drivers/drivers.htm. The VIA chipset drivers still have to be added...the latter is more complicated as there are different recommendations - the latest drivers still work on something old like VIA MVP3, but maybe aren't the best when it comes to performance.

It would be great, if you could take some high-res pics of the boards where I can see some detail markings (like PLL, Super I/O, etc.).

kind regards
soggi

--------------

Edit:
- fixed some errors / misinformation
- added some information

Last edited by soggi on 2021-09-19, 03:36. Edited 18 times in total.

Vintage BIOSes, firmware, drivers, tools, manuals and (3dfx) game patches -> soggi's BIOS & Firmware Page

soggi.org on Twitter - talent borrows, genius steals...

Reply 2 of 22, by frudi

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What more info are you looking for that all the links don't already provide?

The boards came out at roughly the same time (within a few months of each other) so the features are roughly the same as well. Apollo Pro 133A supports UDMA 66 directly through the chipset and officially supports the 133 MHz FSB, with proper dividers for AGP clock. BX chipset lacks both those features, but the BE6-II includes UDMA 66 support through an additional HighPoint366 controller and runs stable at 133+ MHz FSB speeds as well, despite lack of official support, provided the graphics card can handle 89+ MHz AGP clocks. The VIA chipset also (at least theoretically) supports 512 MB memory modules, which BX does not, so if you want more than 768 MB of memory for whatever reason, there is only one choice.

Basically, it's down to your preference - newer features with VIA Apollo Pro 133A or better performance and stability with Intel's BX.

As for drivers, you shouldn't need anything past the chipset drivers (search for VIA 4-in-1 or Hyperion drivers or Intel's PII chipset drivers) and in BE6-II's case also drivers for the HighPoint controller, which can be found at https://soggi.org/drivers/drivers.htm#HiPo

Reply 3 of 22, by dionb

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C0deHunter wrote on 2021-09-16, 00:43:

Dear all,
i have acquired both of these motherboards (with PIII SLOT1 CPUs included in the package), and wanted to know your opinions about them:

Which one is newer?

VT6X4 is newer.

Which one should I start building a system out of?

Depends what you want to do. BX is faster, ApolloPro133A can do more RAM and has universal AGP, and handle 133MHz FSB without overclocking AGP port.

A website that I can download the motherboard drivers?

Depends on the operating system you intend to run. Probably Intel.com or viatech.com

Reply 4 of 22, by C0deHunter

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Thank you so much for your informative posts, I really appreciate it!

Update:

Decided to go ahead with the BEH6-II: I am using a SD to IDE Adapter:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/284019856938?hash=it … sAAAOSw-u9faTZH
and used the IDE3 (ATA/66) for C:\ and IDE1 (ATA/33) for CD-ROM.
With a SanDisk Extreme Plus XC I (3) 64GB SD card.

WinME can be installed, but I had difficulty getting my SBLive! to work under it (using Phil's Method)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2x6T_OWT0WU

Windows 2000 pro could not detect any hard drives when I utilized the ATA/66 (using the HPT370 controller), therefore I connected back the SD to IDE Adapter to the standard ATA/33, and now I can install Win2k.

Question:
Since I am using an SD card, utilizing ATA/66 is a mute point (unnecessary), as the speed of the SD far surpasses regular Hdds (even with ATA/66),
correct?

PIII-800E | Abit BH-6 | GeForce FX 5200 | 256MB SD-RAM PC100 | AWE64 Gold | Sound Canvas 55 MKII | SoftMPU | 16GBGB Transcend CF as C:\ and 64GB Transcend CF D:\ (Games) | OS: MS-DOS 7.1-Win98SE-WinME-Win2K Pro (multi-OS menu Using System Commander 2K)

Reply 5 of 22, by frudi

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To install Windows 2000 or XP on a drive connected to the HighPoint controller, you need to copy the drivers for it onto a floppy disk (or gotek image if that's what you're using) and then press F6 during the early phase of the Windows installation process to tell it you intend to first install third-party storage drivers before it searches for drives. If you look at the white strip with black text on the bottom of the Windows installation screen, it will show you a message when to press F6. Without this step, Windows 2000/XP will not detect drives connected to external controllers (ones not integrated into the motherboard chipset).

But I'm not sure if those SD-to-IDE adapters even saturate the 33 MB/s ATA/33 bus. I use several, but mostly for DOS installs and one or two test Windows 95/98 installations. I never bothered testing them under Windows, so I can't tell you if they'd benefit from the faster ATA/66 speeds. Perhaps in benchmarks, probably not in real world use. In any case, I would not want to use an SD card for NT-based Windows. My ideal option for those is a SATA SSD through a SATA-to-IDE adapter. If that doesn't work, then a plain old spinning rust drive.

Reply 6 of 22, by C0deHunter

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Thanks for your response. I usually tend to use industrial CF cards (in CF to IDE adapters) for my NT bases systems. May I ask., in your opinion why the SD is not a suitable choice for NT based OS?

UPDATE:
Really had a hard time installing Windows 2000 Pro on the SD card (gets detected only as 8GB partition, then the installation would loop and start all over again)

(Note that on an older system (P90 on a ASUS P5A (Ali chipset) motherboard) had no difficulty installing Windows 2000 Pro using the exact same SD card and adapter that I am using here)

PIII-800E | Abit BH-6 | GeForce FX 5200 | 256MB SD-RAM PC100 | AWE64 Gold | Sound Canvas 55 MKII | SoftMPU | 16GBGB Transcend CF as C:\ and 64GB Transcend CF D:\ (Games) | OS: MS-DOS 7.1-Win98SE-WinME-Win2K Pro (multi-OS menu Using System Commander 2K)

Reply 7 of 22, by soggi

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First, I noticed you either have a ABIT BE6-II V1.2 or an ABIT BE6-II V2.0, because you're talking about HighPoint HPT370. The mentioned boards have the HPT370, the first (original) BE6-II has a HPT366.

Second, I made some changes to my first post...fixed some errors, added some information. Especially in case someone other finds this thread (f.e. through a search engine) and needs help.

Third,

soggi wrote on 2021-09-16, 07:36:

It would be great, if you could take some high-res pics of the boards where I can see some detail markings (like PLL, Super I/O, etc.).

Is this possible?

kind regards
soggi

Vintage BIOSes, firmware, drivers, tools, manuals and (3dfx) game patches -> soggi's BIOS & Firmware Page

soggi.org on Twitter - talent borrows, genius steals...

Reply 8 of 22, by frudi

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C0deHunter wrote on 2021-09-17, 07:56:

Thanks for your response. I usually tend to use industrial CF cards (in CF to IDE adapters) for my NT bases systems. May I ask., in your opinion why the SD is not a suitable choice for NT based OS?

Most SD cards, as far as I know, do not have any sort of internal wear leveling functionality. That means they will happily keep rewriting data into the same blocks, wearing them out. They also don't have any sort of DRAM cache, such as SSDs commonly use, which drastically impacts their random write and read performance. Both these issues make them a poor choice for operating systems that will do any substantial amount of background write or read operations on the drive they're installed on. Between background processes, virtual memory/swap area use and ntfs updating metadata even on read operations, I would count Windows 2000 and other NT-based Windows into that category. Honestly I wouldn't even use them on a Windows 95/98 system that I intended to use frequently, as in daily or several times weekly.

And then there's these cheap SD-to-IDE adapters themselves, which further affect performance. Like I wrote before, I use a whole bunch of them myself, so I have nothing against them - cheap, simple and easily swappable is perfect for so many different uses. But they do limit sequential read/write performance quite heavily. I haven't done any windows tests myself, but out of curiosity I checked some YT videos, and it seems these adapters max out at somewhere between 20-30 MB/s during sequential read/write tests. So on one hand the adapter limits sequential performance and the SD cards themselves limit random performance. Both combined mean you're probably better off just using a spinning rust drive. It should give you similar random writes, worse random reads but better sequential read and writes. And any proper SSD with a SATA-to-IDE adapter will blow them both away (but compatibility can be an issue with some chipsets/IDE controllers).

Reply 9 of 22, by C0deHunter

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frudi wrote on 2021-09-17, 10:13:
C0deHunter wrote on 2021-09-17, 07:56:

Thanks for your response. I usually tend to use industrial CF cards (in CF to IDE adapters) for my NT bases systems. May I ask., in your opinion why the SD is not a suitable choice for NT based OS?

And any proper SSD with a SATA-to-IDE adapter will blow them both away (but compatibility can be an issue with some chipsets/IDE controllers).

1) Would you kindly point out an SATA to IDE adapter that you recommend (ebay/Amazon) that I can order?

2) On another PC I am using an industrial CF card (using CF to IDE adapter) that has multiple OS (including Win2K), which I have been using for a while: do you recommend using Industrial CF cards?

PIII-800E | Abit BH-6 | GeForce FX 5200 | 256MB SD-RAM PC100 | AWE64 Gold | Sound Canvas 55 MKII | SoftMPU | 16GBGB Transcend CF as C:\ and 64GB Transcend CF D:\ (Games) | OS: MS-DOS 7.1-Win98SE-WinME-Win2K Pro (multi-OS menu Using System Commander 2K)

Reply 10 of 22, by frudi

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I bought my SATA-to-IDE adapters off ebay. But after I searched through my ebay history, the specific listing I bought through isn't available any more, neither is the picture, so I can't say for sure which model exactly I got. And I just moved recently and most of my retro gear is still sitting in a pile of packed up boxes, so I can't go snap a picture of one of my adapters easily either. I believe I bought the same ones as these, but I'm not 100% sure. Except they were a lot cheaper a year ago, I got 5 for 14€, but that was still before all the electronic prices started going crazy.

I've had good success with these adapters, they've worked with most combinations of motherboards and drives that I've tried. Unfortunately I can't say the same for another batch of different adapters I had gotten sometime earlier, those barely worked with anything I tried them with. So it seems to be a bit of a gamble whether they'll work or not. Not sure what determines it, I'm guessing it's mainly down to the controller chip used on the adapter.

As for industrial CF cards, I can't really say, I don't have much experience using CF cards beyond using a couple cheaper smaller capacity ones for 386/486 class builds. At least with CF you avoid any adapter bottlenecks, since CF natively uses IDE and so adapters for them are completely passive, basically just wires routed between two differently shaped connectors. I'm guessing if the cards use SLC, as a quick interwebs search suggests some industrial cards do, that should also help with random write performance and durability. I can see that quite possibly being a viable option for a Windows NT/2000 build, as it avoids or at lest lessens most of the shortcomings I mentioned in the previous post. I just don't dare search what an SLC industrial grade CF card costs 😀

Reply 11 of 22, by C0deHunter

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OK, last question:

On my main retro machine (please see my signature file for specs), I am using an Industrial 16GB CF as C:\, and on separate IDE channel, using a regular 32GB CF card for DOS/Windows games:
In other words, I always install Windows 9X games on this D:\ drive.

What if I replace the secondary CF card (D:\ DOS and Windows games installed here) with an SD to IDE (using128GB SD), would I still run

Thanks!

PIII-800E | Abit BH-6 | GeForce FX 5200 | 256MB SD-RAM PC100 | AWE64 Gold | Sound Canvas 55 MKII | SoftMPU | 16GBGB Transcend CF as C:\ and 64GB Transcend CF D:\ (Games) | OS: MS-DOS 7.1-Win98SE-WinME-Win2K Pro (multi-OS menu Using System Commander 2K)

Reply 12 of 22, by C0deHunter

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UPDATE:
I ended up going with VT6X4, super stable system, no issues even installing multiple OS on an SD card (using System Commander 2000, installed DOS, Win98X, Win2K)

BE6-II constantly crashed, reset itself.

PIII-800E | Abit BH-6 | GeForce FX 5200 | 256MB SD-RAM PC100 | AWE64 Gold | Sound Canvas 55 MKII | SoftMPU | 16GBGB Transcend CF as C:\ and 64GB Transcend CF D:\ (Games) | OS: MS-DOS 7.1-Win98SE-WinME-Win2K Pro (multi-OS menu Using System Commander 2K)

Reply 13 of 22, by soggi

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Just want to give it another try... Could you plz post some high-res pics of the boards where I can see some detail markings (like PLL, Super I/O, etc.)?

In terms of the problems you had with the BE6-II - the board is updated to the latest BIOS?

kind regards
soggi

Vintage BIOSes, firmware, drivers, tools, manuals and (3dfx) game patches -> soggi's BIOS & Firmware Page

soggi.org on Twitter - talent borrows, genius steals...

Reply 14 of 22, by C0deHunter

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Here there are:

1) According to your site, there are 3 separate versions:
https://soggi.org/motherboards/abit.htm#Sl1

2) Also when I connect my SD to IDE adapter with a SanDisk 128GB (fastest speed model) to ATA66 connector, the BIOS does not see this drive, therefore I have to connect it to the ATA33.

3) What is Abit BIOS update utility once I downloaded any of these corresponding bin files?
Thanks for your help!

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PIII-800E | Abit BH-6 | GeForce FX 5200 | 256MB SD-RAM PC100 | AWE64 Gold | Sound Canvas 55 MKII | SoftMPU | 16GBGB Transcend CF as C:\ and 64GB Transcend CF D:\ (Games) | OS: MS-DOS 7.1-Win98SE-WinME-Win2K Pro (multi-OS menu Using System Commander 2K)

Reply 15 of 22, by soggi

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Hey C0deHunter,

thanks for your reply!

Unfortunately the pictures aren't high-res enough. Now I can read two of the needed chips - one is the Winbond W83977EF-AW Super I/O chip, second the Fairchild RC5058M VRM Controller (between COM2 and Slot1). I still need to know the markings on the clock generator (PLL, between Slot1 and RAM, "RTMxxx-???") and the small Winbond chip near the DIP32 BIOS chip.

The same information/pictures of the ABIT VT6X4 would be also very nice and helpful!

Afterwards I could build spec pages for these boards...

There are three versions of the ABIT BE6-II, according to the BIOS changelogs:

ABIT BE6-II - HighPoint HPT366 PATA UDMA66
ABIT BE6-II V1.2 - HighPoint HPT370 PATA UDMA100 (non-RAID)
ABIT BE6-II V2.0 - HighPoint HPT370 PATA UDMA100 RAID

To find out which version you got, take a look at the side of the ISA slot (there should be a sticker labelled with the version number, a picture of this sticker would be also great).

The HPT controllers (respectively their BIOSes) have serious problems with devices which are not a HDD, especially the HPT366. Updating the controller's BIOS could (!) help. The controller's BIOS is integrated into the main BIOS and updated with it, but the latest release of the corresponding HPT BIOS has to be modded into a ModBIOS based on the latest ABIT BIOS. The latest HPT366 and HPT370 BIOSes are available under https://soggi.org/storage/highpoint.htm.

Now you know the version of your BE6-II, you can download the appropriate BIOS. To update the BIOS I would recommend using UniFlash 1.40 (DOS). But you can also use the later UniFlash versions (DOS) or awdflash 8.99 (DOS) or AwardBIOS Winflash 1.94 (Windows). They all are available on my motherboard BIOS update / flash utilities page -> https://soggi.org/motherboards/bios-update-fl … h-utilities.htm.

kind regards
soggi

Vintage BIOSes, firmware, drivers, tools, manuals and (3dfx) game patches -> soggi's BIOS & Firmware Page

soggi.org on Twitter - talent borrows, genius steals...

Reply 16 of 22, by C0deHunter

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I muse have been blind! I just looked at the side of ISA connector, and the white stick clearly states it is indeed a V2.0.
Thanks!

Looks like there is just one BIOS file available for the V2.0:

BE6-II V2.0 72 190 KiB 2001/12/03 Award changelog

https://soggi.org/files/motherboards/bios/abi … BX133RAID_72.7z

PIII-800E | Abit BH-6 | GeForce FX 5200 | 256MB SD-RAM PC100 | AWE64 Gold | Sound Canvas 55 MKII | SoftMPU | 16GBGB Transcend CF as C:\ and 64GB Transcend CF D:\ (Games) | OS: MS-DOS 7.1-Win98SE-WinME-Win2K Pro (multi-OS menu Using System Commander 2K)

Reply 17 of 22, by soggi

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Usually only the latest BIOS version of a specific motherboard is available on my website and yes for the ABIT BE6-II V2.0 it's the mentioned file - as you can see, this BIOS also fits for the ABIT BX133-RAID (the very same board with S370 instead of Slot1).

But...
Please don't link directly to a download, as downloads through hotlinks will be denied. Link to the page which contains the download instead (as you did previously).

kind regards
soggi

Vintage BIOSes, firmware, drivers, tools, manuals and (3dfx) game patches -> soggi's BIOS & Firmware Page

soggi.org on Twitter - talent borrows, genius steals...

Reply 18 of 22, by C0deHunter

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I receive the following error:

Flash ROM is Write-Protected

Please make sure whether lockout jumpers is set to correct or not

PIII-800E | Abit BH-6 | GeForce FX 5200 | 256MB SD-RAM PC100 | AWE64 Gold | Sound Canvas 55 MKII | SoftMPU | 16GBGB Transcend CF as C:\ and 64GB Transcend CF D:\ (Games) | OS: MS-DOS 7.1-Win98SE-WinME-Win2K Pro (multi-OS menu Using System Commander 2K)

Reply 19 of 22, by soggi

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Which flasher did you use? The recommended UniFlash 1.40 on real DOS?

kind regards
soggi

Vintage BIOSes, firmware, drivers, tools, manuals and (3dfx) game patches -> soggi's BIOS & Firmware Page

soggi.org on Twitter - talent borrows, genius steals...