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HardwareZone's 10th Anniversary: The 1998 - 1999 Era

HardwareZone's 10th Anniversary: The 1998 - 1999 Era



The Motherboard Evolution - 1998

The Motherboard Evolution - 1998

Intel was the dominant force in the industry then, with its few rivals like AMD and Cyrix either scrabbling in the low-end segment or unable to provide a viable alternative to the Pentium brand. The Pentium II had just been launched in 1997 and early 1998 saw the introduction of the 440BX chipset from Intel, arguably one of the most popular chipsets ever for any processor. The chipset was capable of being overclocked up to 133MHz from its official 100MHz FSB and even supported the later Pentium III processors that would debut in 1999. Given the high cost of RDRAM that Intel tried to foster onto the public with its later i820 chipset, it was perhaps unsurprising that users stuck with their 440BX boards for a while to come.

One of the excellent motherboards based on the Intel 440BX was the AOpen AX6BC, which was a rather forward looking board with many features that would be found in motherboards today. It was to be AOpen's second attempt at a 440BX board and it offered an extra PCI slot on this board, sacrificing an ISA slot in the process. This was how motherboard vendors have gradually introduced change in their boards, slowly weaning off the older legacy standards, something that has remained true up to this day.

With lots of options for overclocking, stability and decent performance, "the AX6BC was a clear winner among the BX motherboards available in the market. If you are looking around for a good BX motherboard that is both reliable and stable, and providing you 5 PCI slots for your peripherals, the AX6BC would be a good choice."

Of course, not everyone had switched to the Pentium II by 1998. The older Super Socket 7 format probably supported one of the widest varieties of processors, from AMD to Cyrix to Intel, though it was soon fall into disuse as users upgraded. Its original appeal was its versatility and Hardware Zone looked at a few of these boards in 1998. One of the more interesting ones was the ASUS P5A, which used an ALi M1541 Aladdin V chipset and had quite a lot of overclocking options, especially if you were using an AMD K6-2. It also had a wide selection of core voltage settings. Stepping through the 2.0V all the way to 3.5V in 0.1V increments, ASUS seems to have designed this board with the intention of winning the best overclocker's motherboard.