Chaintech is back once again with a hit on their hands, their first entry into the BX arena is definitely a knockout, the 6BTM follows in the Chaintech tradition impressing this review site with a highly overclockable nature, rock solid stability, and not to mention their first class quality and extreme attention to detail.  Let's take a closer look at this threat to the slowly weakening thrones of the current top three motherboards from ABIT, AOpen and ASUS.  


Anand Tech Report Card Rating
95/A

Motherboard Specifications

CPU Interface Slot-1
Chipset Intel 440BX
L2 Cache N/A (on-chip)
Form Factor ATX
Bus Speeds 66 / 75 / 83 / 100 / 103 / 112 / 133 MHz
Clock Multipliers 2.0x - 5.0x
Voltages Supported 1.5v - 3.5v (Auto Detect)
Memory Slots 4 168pin DIMM Slots (SDRAM)
Expansion Slots 1 AGP Slot
4 PCI Slots
3 ISA Slots (1 Shared / 3 Full Length)
BIOS Award PnP BIOS

 


The Good

With BX motherboards there are basically two paths you can take, the more popular 4/3/1/x configuration, meaning the board is equipped with 4 PCI, 3 ISA, 1 AGP, and either 3 or 4 DIMM slots.  Then there is the slightly less popular 5/2/1/x configuration, providing users with 5 PCI, 2 ISA, 1 AGP and once again, either 3 or 4 DIMM slots.  Chaintech chose the first and "safer" avenue of travel for their BX motherboard, overall it is a more "one size fits all" approach to constructing a motherboard since there are quite a few users that still want those precious ISA slots on their boards while keeping a fairly roomy 4 PCI slots for more advanced upgrades.  The 4 DIMM slots on the 6BTM will accept just about any type of SDRAM you stick in them, however if you plan on making it past the 75/83MHz settings you should plan on using some higher quality 100MHz or preferably PC100 SDRAM.  6btm.jpg (9361 bytes)

The ATX 6BTM looks a little different in comparison to the more conventional BX boards out there that feature the same expansion capabilities as Chaintech's board.  The biggest difference seems to be the Slot-1 SEC Slot, instead of packaging a CPU Retention Support Kit with the motherboard and risking possible damage during the installation of the kit (if you've never built a Pentium II system it can be a bit intimidating at first), Chaintech chose to build a collapsible support onto the board itself.  Some other manufacturers have chose this route, among those are Soyo and Epox with their 6BA and BXA respectively. 

Arriving in this market with a ABIT-Like attractive box bearing the Chaintech Logo and sure enough it also carries the label "We don't imitate, we innovate."  Inside the box you'll find the standard Chaintech frills, including the most important object in there (aside from the board itself), the First Class Chaintech Manual.  From cover to cover, the 54 page User's Manual includes everything from a section on how to overclock, a description of just about everything on the board (including the elusive SB-Link which "serves as a bridge between the mainboard and Creative's PCI Sound Card.  This connector delivers Sound Blaster 16 compatibility for real-mode DOS games."  Now how many of you didn't know that until the Chaintech manual told you? ;)...).  The manual even provides you with mounds of contact information just in case you feel so obliged as to give the folks over at Chaintech a call. 

Following in the unwritten "BX Code of Law" the 6BTM from Chaintech puts the Serial Presence Detect on PC100 SDRAM to good use by displaying a little message during the initial bootup process recommending what CAS Latency your SDRAM was meant to be run at.  The Award BIOS on the 6BTM features Chaintech's Jumperless CPU Setup, uniquely named, SeePU Setup which allows you to choose from the standard pre-defined CPU settings (233, 266, 300/66, 300/100, 333, 350, 400) or manually select the bus speed/clock multiplier from the supplied 66 - 133MHz and 2.0x - 5.0x settings respectively. 

The Chaintech 6BTM, like the ASUS P2B, features Virus protection in the BIOS, specifically the 6BTM shows off its new Trend ChipAway Virus Protection which helps prevent Boot Sector Viruses from activating prior to the boot process.  It should be mentioned that this still doesn't replace a real anti-virus program, it only helps prevent Viruses from infiltrating your system.  In addition to activating the ChipAway Virus Protection, the 6BTM lets you know the CPU Microcode and additional information about your CPU, nothing really important to the average user, but it is nice to know that Chaintech decided to include it "just in case."

Stability and Chaintech are almost synonymous in that you shouldn't expect this board to plague you with any instability problems, even when overclocking.  The 6BTM fails to bridge the performance gap between the competition and the ASUS P2B, but it does perform quite competitively.

The Bad

If you happen to have an older Pentium II you may want to look for a different motherboard, as the "cute" SeePU Setup Configuration disables all bus speeds above 83MHz if you happen to use a 66MHz Pentium II or Celeron processor, sorry guys, you're out of luck.

updated.gif (1180 bytes) - 5/5/98 - Using Chaintech's Newest BIOS, the 6BTM allows you to clock your 66MHz Bus Pentium II at the 100MHz bus speed, making this board more of a top contender.

 


BIOS Settings

Chaintech 6BTM Chipset Features Setup

Item Recommended Settings
EDO/SDRAM 66/75/83MHz Bus SDRAM 100/112MHz Bus Safe
SDRAM CAS Latency Time: 2 3 Auto
DRAM Data Integrity Mode: Non-ECC Non-ECC Non-ECC
System BIOS Cacheable: Enabled Enabled Disabled
Video BIOS Cacheable: Enabled Enabled Disabled
Video RAM Cacheable: Disabled Disabled Disabled
8 Bit I/O Recovery Time: 1 4 4
16 Bit I/O Recovery Time: 1 2 2
Memory Hole At 15M-16M: Disabled Disabled Disabled
Passive Release: Enabled Enabled Disabled
Delayed Transaction: Enabled Enabled Disabled
AGP Aperture Size (MB): 64 64 64

 


Recommended SDRAM

Recommended SDRAM: Corsair PC100 SDRAM; Memory Man PC100 SDRAM
SDRAM Tested: 1 x 64MB Corsair PC100 SDRAM; 1 x 64MB Memory-Man PC100 SDRAM

Manufacturer: Corsair Microsystems
Purchase Web-Site: http://www.nf-ny.com

Manufacturer: The Memory Man
Purchase Web-Site: http://www.memory-man.com

The Test

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