First Impressions And Installation
Ok my experience with the VP6 didn't go as smoothly as I would have hoped. I ordered 2 1 Ghz Pentium III chips and the VP6 from GoogleGear.com, a vendor I found at pricewatch. I decided to go with the dual Ghz setup instead of trying my luck on getting 2 700s and overclocking those. I figure that the prices were low enough, and I didn't want to go through the hassle again. I went through enough trouble with my old dual Celeron system. Don't get me wrong, overclocking is a great hobby and I do plan to overclock the system regardless but I wanted the highest performance I could get. Anyway, in anticipation of overclocking beyond 133 Mhz FSB, I decided to pick myself up some PC-166 memory from The Overclockerz Store, which btw was really cheap at the time. So once I had everything in my possession it was time to put it all together. The VP6 manual is about just as extensive as the BP6 manual. Since I was fairly familiar with installing motherboards the only real thing I needed to know was the switches/LED connections to the case. After tearing out my BP6 from my Antec 1030B case, I carefully cleaned the inside to make sure the VP6 had a comfy new home. The VP6 fit perfectly in the case. After securing the motherboard I connected the case LEDs and switches to the motherboard. Since these aren't labeled on the motherboard itself I had to consult the manual. That's the only time I really read the manual. After that it was time to install the processors and rest of the system. The layout of the VP6 is really well done which made it easy to install everything. I didn't run into any problems installing anything and getting the system up and running initially. Everything ran fine and after installing a fresh copy of Windows 2000 Pro, I was ready to begin testing. After I finished my testing I had a very bad mishap...
While I was reviewing the Iwill DVD266 board in my system, my power supply started dying. To make sure it was the power supply and not just the motherboard, since the power supply is fairly new, I swapped the VP6 back in. Well it worked but only for a day. After I got home that day from work, the system was off and could not be revived. After ordering another power supply, I was dumbfounded to discover that the motherboards themselves had not survived either. I was definitely not amused. So I immediately emailed Abit tech support and they got back to me relatively fast with an RMA number. Well I couldn't really wait for them to replace the unit since I wanted a running system and that process is going take some time. So, I just went out and bought another one. I plan to still get a replacement for the old one and probably just sell it on eBay or something. I was suspicious as to what caused the failure of all these components but I really had no clue. One guess would be the high output Delta fans I'm using for the CPUs, which were plugged into the motherboard fan headers. Those draw a lot of power from the motherboard, but on the Abit site it says the VP6 fan headers can handle up to 6w each, which should be more than enough for the Deltas. What I think might have happened is the Iwill DVD266 board couldn't handle it, blew out the power supply somehow and the power supply managed to do something to the VP6. It sounds far-fetched but hey I'd believe anything right about now. So now I'm running both fans directly from the power supply. So to all avid VP6 or dual motherboard enthusiasts out there, the high output fans can draw power like crazy so it's better to have them connected directly to the PS. I know everyone probably knows this and I'm just an idiot but hey there are probably still people out there that don't :). Since the Delta's are popular with overclockers and this motherboard is screaming to be overclocked, I would guess I'm probably not alone out there. The truth is Abit boards have issues with their fan headers all the time. The old BP6 that I have also had a problem with it's headers. They just died one day and I managed to get the motherboard replaced. The VP6 is no exception so people who use those power hungry fans, be careful.
So, after I bought my new VP6, everything was in order again. To be fair, I decided to test this board also instead of just going with the scores I already had. Who knows, the other board might have had problems that I was unaware of that could have affected the results. Either way I had to retest. I'm more interested in increasing the memory performance more than anything simply because it's the weakness of this VIA chipset. With the growing number of DDR based motherboards being released, regular SDRAM is slowly being replaced. So being competitive in the memory department means keeping up with the newer dual motherboards out there. Servers especially need high memory bandwidth and performance for processing and transferring large amounts of data. A web/database server for instance will be doing lots of memory intensive tasks which means the faster the memory, the better the performance. Depending on the application, the memory performance might be the most critical part of the system. Obviously the VP6 is meant for the low-end server market, so you probably won't see any mission critical or important production servers using this motherboard. It's ideal for personal or workstation use, and of course every enthusiast will love it. For me it's great because I love the freedom of opening an absurd number of applications and windows at one time minus the lag. So I guess my first impressions of this board are really mixed with excitement and frustration. Now that I finally had a nice working motherboard, it was time to move on to the real stuff.
>> Layout/2 Processors Are Better Than One