Abit's VP6 VIA Apollo Pro 133A Dual-CPU Motherboard

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Abit's VP6 VIA Apollo Pro 133A Dual-CPU Motherboard
Worth the trouble?

By Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
February 22, 2001

Our traditional physical inspection shows that Abit put much thought into the design and layout of the VP6...

     

The first thing we noticed was the board's slot configuration.  A single AGP and 5 PCI slots grace the VP6.  Normally we'd like to see a 6th PCI slot on a board at this level, but there is a reason there are "only" 5.  The on-board HPT-370 RAID controller is essentially a PCI card that's been integrated into the motherboard.  In essence, it's using the 6th PCI slot.

With the extra IDE connectors associated with the HPT-370 there is potential for a slew of cables to be draped over your motherboard.  Abit made a smart decision though and pushed the floppy and IDE connectors all the way out to the edges of the board.

                

As we continue traveling around the board, you'll see that Abit placed ALL of the connectors around the far edges of the board.  This is a HUGE plus as it makes for a very neat and tidy case.  The ATX power connector is tucked out of the way behind an array of power capacitors and the case connectors are placed at the far corner.

Notice the 12 power capacitors neatly arranged between the sockets.  Supplying a clean, even flow of power to your CPU is a crucial element of a stable motherboard.  The power problem is two-fold on the VP6, so seeing an array like this impressed us.

     

Although the Northbridge is "naked" in all of our pics, Abit shipped the VP6 with a simple black heatsink attached to it with some cheap thermal tape.  We removed the stock heatsink and replaced it with an active cooler salvaged from an old Pentium machine we had laying around in an effort to further cool the Northbridge (you'll see it in a bit). 

Another notable feature of the VP6 is the inclusion of 4 DIMM sockets, capable of housing a grand total of 2GB of memory!  With RAM prices being as cheap as they are right now, we'd expect more than a few of you to fill all 4 of these puppies.

                

Abit's engineers also had enough good sense to keep adequate room around the socket 370s.  We mounted a pair of Alphas with plenty of room to spare.  One of the most common mistakes motherboard  manufacturers make today is placing components to close to the sockets hindering cooling efforts.  Kudos to Abit for making our life a little bit easier.

There was one drawback to the VP6's design...it's inclusion of only 3 fan headers.  With our coolers installed, all 3 of our fan headers were immediately used.  It would be nice to see Abit include at least 2 more strategically placed fan headers in later revisions of the VP6.
 

Setup and Installation
Good Stuff...

Installation of the VP6 is as simple as any other standard ATX motherboard.  Use the right screws and stand-offs, have at least a 300W power supply and there really isn't much that can go wrong.  The VP6 is slightly larger than the average mobo though, and if you're gong to set up a RAID array you'll have double the usual amount of IDE cables in your case.  Keep this in mind and pack your cables neatly so you don't end up with a case full of spaghetti...

The BIOS and Overclocking

 

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