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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [03.29.00]
Manufactured by: Abit


Can't lose with Abit... Or can you?

Abit has long been considered by many to be on the top of the pile of motherboard manufacturers.  They have proven themselves with stable, well-priced, high performing, and overclock-friendly boards with the Intel 440 BX chipset.  It all started with the BH6, and continued with the BX6 (with more PCI slots), BE6 (with ATA/66 support onboard), BM6 (a great ppga board), BP6 (a very popular dual ppga board) and so on...

Abit decided that they couldn't last forever with the 440BX chipset; with CPU's now supporting 133 MHz frontside bus speeds, video cards supporting 4X AGP, and hard drives supporting ATA/66, the 440BX chipset is beginning to look outdated.  At first, there aren't many alternatives.  On one hand, you have the Intel 820 chipset, with a choice of using ultra-expensive RDRAM (up to $1000 for 128 at the time of writing this article) or using an MTH to support SDRAM, which has a severe impact on RAM performance.

Enter Via's Apollo Pro 133 chipset.  This was supposed to kill Intel's expensive 820.  With native SDRAM support, you wouldn't have to worry about the performance hit associated with using the MTH, and with ATA/66, and a 1/2 AGP divider (thus providing 'true' 133 MHz FSB support), the Apollo Pro 133 was truly a generation above the 440BX.

Unfortunately, as you'll find in the review, the Pro 133 chipset isn't exactly perfect.  Of course, you can now get the Pro 133a, which fixes a lot of the problems we had, and adds AGP 4X support, but at this time, this is the only Abit motherboard that makes use of a non-Intel chipset.  Abit, however, has recently announced the VT6X4, which is based on the newer, faster, better Apollo Pro 133a chipset.  We'll try to get one of those as soon as they hit stores.  For now, let's have a look at the VA6.

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