Iwill BD100Plus Review
Iwill's latest BX-based BD100Plus is a revised and improved 2nd generation version of their previously released BD100 SLot-1 mainboard. And, while the Slot-1 mainboard is certainly not our forte, here at The Super 7 Hardware Guide, some of the features Iwill advertised for this board caught our attention and we decided it may be prudent to take a closer look. Seemingly built for the overclocker market, the BD100Plus is a step ahead of most of the competition. With features like AGP Booster, Iwill's Jumper-less Smart-Setting, user interactive core voltage settings and front side bus speeds of 66/75/83/100/105/110/112/124 and 133MHz, the BD100Plus is most assuredly built for speed. Could this be the Slot-1 mainboard to make you hang up your K6-3? Let's take a look.
The BD100Plus ships along with IDE and floppy cables, Iwill's Power Installer CD, a full sized User's Guide, Iwill's 3 in 1 retention kit for Slot-1 CPUs and Sensor kit for CPU, HDD and System environment temperature detection. Iwill's Power Installer CD offers a free copy of McAfee VirusScan as well as Adaptec EZ-SCSI 5.0. as well as the standard set of Bus Master drivers and patches for Windows 9x and a complimentary copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader.
|The User's Guide, while thorough and well packed with relevant information, could use some improvement from the art department as the schematic diagrams are little more than hard to decipher line drawings. The sensor kit is provided for use with the Winbond 83781D hardware monitor chip which can monitor two onboard fans, 7 voltages, and up to 3 temperatures. Iwill has included a convenient clip on thermistor for mounting to the CPU, HDD or any other component that you'd like to keep an eye on. A single external thermistor header is present near the CPU. A second thermistor is located directly underneath the CPU slot, and a third thermistor is located next to the 2-pin ATX soft on connector towards the end of the second ISA slot, to monitor system temperature.|
The BD100Plus puts the full potential of the Intel BX chipset to use. Four DIMM slots provide support for up to 1G of EDO, Unbuffered Standard or PC100 SDRAM (ECC for SDRAM only). Their proximity to the 82443BX PCI/ AGP controller - North Bridge of the chipset reduces circuitry to a minimum and should provide excellent stability even when all the slots are filled. Expansion is provided for in a 1/5/2 layout (1 x AGP, 5 x PCI and 2 x ISA with 1 PCI/ISA shared). The 5 PCI slots all support full-length expansion cards and the BIOS provides the user with the ability to assign IRQs to the slots individually. This can be of great value for overriding PnP conflicts and allows for easier configuring of troublesome expansion cards. The 16-bit ISA slots, while roomy, are somewhat hampered as to length by the placement of the front panel I/O connector block and system fan connector. Onboard I/O is handled by the Winbond W83977 super I/O controller which supports two floppy disk drives (include 3 Mode drive) and / or QIC-80 tape drive,
one multi-mode parallel port, two high speed 16550 FIFO serial ports, an integrated keyboard and PS/2 mouse controller, and supports PS/2 Power-On function and Power Failure Recovery. Iwill's "Jumper Inside" BIOS configuration utility means you no longer have to worry about setting physical jumpers correctly. The BD100Plus also offers the ability to bump up the core voltage in 5 and 10% increments depending upon a jumper selection. At the 5% core voltage setting this would increase, to a processor running at 2.0v, the core voltage to 2.1v while a 10% increase would yield a 2.2v core voltage setting. This could be a major boon to those overclockers out there that are having a tough time with stability. The feature we were most eager to explore, Iwill's AGP Booster, is a jumper configurable means of running the AGP frequency at the same speed at the CPU's external clock speed. This could mean your AGP frequency would be 100MHz when running the latest PII/III processors at their default clock speeds. While this boost in speed would be unlikely to generate much of an increase, as far as current benchmarking and gaming applications go, we were interested nonetheless to see it in action. Unfortunately, current graphics cards, all that we tried anyway, could not handle the increase in speed. While we did manage to get the system to boot while using Diamond's Viper 550, 3dfx' V3 3000, Asus and Gigabyte TNT2 cards, any attempt to run even a 2D benchmark, let alone any 3D applications, resulted in immediate lock-ups. This, we hope will not always be the case, but for now, the feature seems to be pretty much of a marketing enhancement and little else.
A place for everything and everything in it's place, the BD100Plus is almost child's play to configure. Although the line drawings in the user's guide may be a bit tough for some to follow, careful perusal of the manual before putting the system board into it's case will give you all you need to be up and running quickly with an absolute minimum of fuss. Nothing on the board seems out of place and although the BD100Plus is a slightly smaller footprint than many current BX-based boards, there is ample room to get your fingers in to make the connections necessary to get up and running. Pop in your processor and memory, slide the board into the case and hook up your floppy, IDE and front panel I/O, add your expansion cards and you're ready for action.
System Configuration - Iwill BD100Plus
|Processor||Intel Pentium III
Intel Pentium II 400MHz
Intel Celeron PPGA 466/400MHz
Intel CeleronA SECC 300MHz
Corsair CM 654S64-BX2
|Hard Drive||Quantum Fireball EX
6.4G Ultra ATA/33
|Graphics Card||Diamond Viper 550 16MB AGP|
|Operating System||Windows 98|
The BD100Plus offers outstanding speed and compatibility. Testing against Ziff-Davis' Winstone 99 showed the BD100Plus to be the fastest overall of any of the BX-based Slot-1 boards we tested. Average WInstone 99 scores using the system configuration listed above resulted in the following.
Without a doubt, the BD100Plus has all of the makings required for a top of the line BX mainboard. If the Slot is calling you, this is the way to go. Iwill offers a wide variety of SCSI adapters to go along so, if you want to really push the limits, this is the mainboard to choose. While the AGP Booster feature is currently a wash, there's no saying what the future of AGP will bring. I think it is a good bet that this feature will move to the mainstream as soon as AGP x4 hits. The one thing you'll for sure want to consider, with the i820 chipset (codenamed CAMINO) just around the corner, is BX the way you want to go. If it is, we give a ten thumbs up to Iwill's BD100Plus...