Abit's SE6 and BX133-RAID
The Intel PC133 BX versus i815 - Where the rubber meets the road.

By Dave "Davo" Altavilla

Installation / Setup With The Old and The New
SE6 and BX133 RAID On The Bench

Life truly is good when setting up Abit boards.  They typically install and boot with out any problem, the first time you hit the power button.  With no jumpers to set, you don't even have to look the manual, which by the way is one of the best in the business for both of these boards.  As you may have noted in the previous photos, the BX133 and SE6 both have dip switches installed for "hard configuration" of CPU speed etc.  

However, there is no need to even look at them with the various settings in the BIOS for your convenience.  Abit was the pioneer of the "Soft Menu" BIOS and here are a couple of the best features in the SE6 and BX133 RAID BIOS.

BX133 FSB Settings

SE6 FSB, Memory and PCI Settings

BX133 AGP, Memory & PCI Dividers

SE6 SDRAM Settings

BX133 SDRAM Settings

In the above shots you note that the BX133 has a wealth of FSB settings all the way up to 200MHz.  You'll never be able to use that 200MHz. settings but it feels good for the ego, just to see it in there.  We did however get the BX133 stable with a 160 Front Side Bus with our top notch Corsair Memory from Outside Loop.  (gratuitous plug... go there for all the best gear)  You can also set the PCI and AGP divider in the BX133 BIOS but it is limited to the capabilities of the BX chipset.  These are 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4 for PCI and 1/1 and 2/3 for AGP.  There is also a setting for AGP Transfer Mode at "Normal" and "Fast".  We learned from the folks at Abit that this sets the AGP to 1X for normal and 2X for Fast.  This may help to stabilize your graphics card, if you have a heavily over-clocked AGP bus setting with a high FSB but will diminish performance somewhat.

The SE6 BIOS is of the Soft Menu II derivative and as such has less granularity of FSB settings, which top out at 153MHz.  Previous reviews of the SE6 have noted disappointment with over all performance of the board.  However, the latest release of the board along with this BIOS greatly improves things.  Notice the "In Order Queue Depth" setting in the top SE6 BIOS shot.  Historically, this was set to 1 by default and there was no way of changing it.  The recent release of the "SW" BIOS for the SE6 allows the user to set it to 4 just as we have seen in many VIA Apollo Pro133A boards.  This along with the more aggressive SDRAM timings you see above, cranked the SE6 up a notch in our tests.  

In addition the SE6, with full PC133 support derives its SDRAM, PCI and APG speeds from the divide by 3 or 4 feature in its PLL Clock chip.  At 133MHz. FSB, it puts out a 33MHz. PCI bus speed fully in spec.  The AGP clock is set to 1/2 the FSB clock.  As a result, all the way up to its max 153MHz. FSB, the SE6 stays well under 80MHz. AGP bus speed.  This is a speed that all current 2D/3D cards should handle easily.  More on this in our "Over-Clocking" section.

Finally, the BX133-RAID has the ability, as you may have guessed, to run two drives in several RAID Modes.  We decided to go for performance (go figure) and set up two 15G ATA100 7200 RPM IBM drives (these were courtesy of Outside Loop... geez... they keep popping up here) and run them in a RAID 0 "Striping" configuration.

What this does essentially is "stripe" or split the data in two across both drives simultaneously.  As you can imagine, with two drives delivering data across 2 ATA100 interfaces thus splitting the workload in half for each drive, performance is almost doubled.  Access times, bandwidth and throughput are all greatly enhanced.  Other forms of RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) configurations can be set up with the High Point Controller, including varying levels of redundancy for fault tolerance applications.  However, striping is the fastest and that's what we always shoot for around here. 

Click to see the High Point ATA100 RAID Controller BIOS

If you would like a little "schooling" or RAID "101" if you will, Anand's page has a good deal of info and a look at another card that does it as well.  Regardless of your requirements, if you are in need of large storage, say 20G or more, we suggest getting two identical smaller drives and striping them in RAID O mode.  This is of course if you are looking at a board with the High Point RAID controller on it like the BX133 RAID.  The performance is amazing, as you will see shortly and the cost is the same if not better, than one large drive.  Reliability over the long haul will be better as well.

So, what about those tests?  Let's have a look.

 Head To Head Performance Tests