Articles :: Introduction to Chipsets ::

Billy Newsom · 01-01-1997 · Category: Tech-planations

The $69.00 Motherboard

A $69 motherboard? No joke, you can get the latest Pentium Socket 7 motherboard for $69 retail. And here's why you shouldn't: the chipset. You can bet that I get a half-dozen requests a day from people looking for information about their motherboard. But I'm seeing this trend more and more, and I hate to break the news to people. Here's a textbook case of the "chipset from Hell." I got this message while I was writing this part of article:

"I have a Houston Technology motherboard, part no. HA-BUNDLE-P133/A It has a VXPro chipset and Award Bios. I can't get 32-bit mode going in Win95 for my HDD's. They are running in MS-DOS compatibility mode. Do you know where I can get an updated Win95 driver to correct this?"

The problem? He probably paid about $69 for the board and he got what he paid for. First off, I list 120+ motherboard manufacturers on my website. Houston is not one of them, because they simply don't have a website. (Correction: this is a brand of Hsing-Tech.) Also, let's look at the "VXPro" and "HXPro" chipsets that are showing up on these $69 motherboards

Since apparently so many people have this chipset and this problem, I received a lot of e-mail regarding a solution to at least the hard disk problem. If Microsoft KB Q151911 means anything to you, then you can use that.

Every indication I have is that these chipsets are made by PCChips and are supposed to be "compatible with" the Intel 430VX and 430HX chipsets, yet they cost a lot less. Also, their performance is reportedly about 20% less than their Intel PCIset counterpart. This chipset may not be completely responsible for the woes I've seen from $69 motherboards, but it's the If I can implore anyone to learn form others mistakes, I would say "DO NOT BUY A $69 MOTHERBOARD" and if you do, I'll put money on the chipset that's on it. In fact, I'll bet you $69 I can guess the chipset in three tries: VXPro, HXPro, and 430FX. (Sorry, since I wrote this, many other "Pro" chipsets have started showing up, and they are much better chipsets. Even still, heed my advice about the low-cost no-name motherboards out there, because the quality of the boards have not increased even though the chipsets have.)

The most common manufacturers who use these chipsets are Alton/PCWare, PCChips, Amptron, Houston/Hsing Tech. As for the manufacturer of the chipset, I received information from an insider who says that they are made by PCChips and/or they are VIA VPX or VP1 clone with some minor changes. I've heard that the TXPro and TXTwo chipsets are better and are made by other manufacturers with different labels.

Keep in mind that I get more e-mail with problems from this type of motherboard than any that I can think of. I get more requests for Houston and Alton (a.k.a. Hsing Tech and PCWare) than I know what to do with.


  1. Introduction
  2. What Is a Chipset?
  3. A Brief History of Pentium Chipsets
  4. Triton: It All Started Here
  5. Intel Pentium Chipsets
  6. Non-Intel Pentium Chipsets
  7. Pentium Pro/II Chipsets
  8. The $69.00 Motherboard
  9. High-End Chipsets