Looking to buy an Intel Architecture-based system that is BeOS capable? Or wondering if your current system can run the BeOS? This document attempts to answer both questions. This information is updated at regular intervals to include new models and any status change on existing models.
For questions which are not answered here, especially concerning specific support for products or technologies, see the BeOS for Intel FAQ. To see a list of systems which customers are successfully running the BeOS on, see the BeOS Probably Compatible List -- Intel page.
For compatibility information regarding the BeOS for PowerPC release, see our BeOS Ready Systems -- PowerPC list.
Very Important Note: We're very sorry, but we cannot answer the question "Here is my system configuration, can I run the BeOS on it?" The number of variables is too high. The information below will help you determine if your system is compatible, and is the same information we use to determine compatibility. Really, we're not holding anything back!
This list is current for the BeOS Release 4 for Intel Architecture, as of April 2, 1999.
Quick links to sections on this page:
Minimum Hardware Requirements
Minimum Hardware Requirements
BeOS Ready Systems
The world of Intel Architecture computers is very large and diverse. This diversity makes it difficult or impossible to list every possible system configuration which is compatible with the BeOS. While the information below is believed to be accurate and complete when compiled, there may be errors of correctness or omission. Your mileage may vary, and Be is not responsible for purchase decisions you make using this information.
That said, we make every effort to keep this information accurate and up-to-date. If you have corrections or additions to this list, or have suggestions for improving the design or content, please let us know!
Complete Systems Which Are BeOS Ready
This section will contain a listing of complete systems, preconfigured packages which are known to work with the BeOS. If you are looking to buy a new PC which will be compatible with the BeOS, this is an excellent place to look.
In the coming weeks and months, we expect to list "certified" systems from vendors such as Gateway, Umax, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and the like. If you have purchased such a system and are successfully running the BeOS on it, please let us know!
In the meantime, we have a listing of several preconfigured systems from a local PC clone vendor, which you can use to model your own purchase of a complete system, either from our vendor, your own local vendor, or a mail order business such as Gateway or Dell.
Be's Example Intel Systems (AKA "Ming Specials")
To see a list of systems which customers are successfully running the BeOS on, see the BeOS Probably Compatible List -- Intel page.
BeOS Ready Fundamentals
The BeOS for Intel Architecture supports the following processors (but see the next section for supported "glue" chipsets):
The core "glue" chipset of an Intel Architecture system is the most important determining factor for BeOS compatibility. We list here the chipsets known to be supported (though occasional BIOS differences can, rarely, cause difficulties). If you know your system's processor and chipset, you should be able to determine whether your motherboard is compatible with the BeOS (but see the next section for motherboards with explicitly confirmed support).
If you are not sure of your systems chipset, you can generally determine it by one of the following methods:
The following are processor / chipset combinations which we have tested here at Be, and which should give you a BeOS Ready System. If your system is based on a below combination, we will make every effort to solve problems, should you have any.
BeOS Ready Processors and Chipsets
The following are chipsets which have not been extensively tested by Be, but have been tested briefly, and should work fine (that's right, a 4-way Xeon; and yes, the BeOS does rock at 1600 MHz ;-):
The following are chipsets which may work. However, due to chronic bugs in the chipset and BIOS of such systems, Be cannot provide support for such systems:
Here are motherboards which are known to support the BeOS and which, with the appropriate compatible processor(s) installed, will give you an officially supported BeOS Ready System.
We want to add to this list! If you have corrections or additions, please let us know!
BeOS Ready Graphics Cards
The support for graphics cards in the BeOS Release 4 for Intel is somewhat limited. The number one reason people find their existing system to be incompatible with the BeOS is because of an incompatible graphics card.
If you don't have a compatible graphics card, you can run the BeOS using the lowest common denominator SuperVGA "safe boot" graphics mode (640 by 480, 4-bit grayscale). While this should work for nearly any graphics card, SuperVGA mode is intended to allow you to install and boot the BeOS, and use it long enough to download a real graphics driver for your system. It is not a long-term solution, and does not show the capabilities of the BeOS.
We fully intend to add additional cards to this list, as fast as we and our developers can write drivers. For now, however, please be patient with us. And if you really need to run the BeOS now, some of the below cards are very high-performance, while others are quite reasonable in price. Consider getting yourself a new graphics card if you can't wait for us to support the one you already have.
Matrox, ATI, and RIVA 128 cards are recommended by Be as being the best cards for use with the BeOS on Intel systems.
"Experimental" Graphics Support
The BeOS Release 4 also includes support for a few other graphics cards and chipsets. The quality of the support is not what we'd like; the number and variety of graphics cards based on them makes it virtually impossible for us to support all cards based on them. For that reason, we call this support "experimental." It might work, but then again, you might end up with just the SuperVGA graphics driver.
In any case, we list this information here for the sake of completeness, but we recommend against using these graphics cards or subsystems at this time. We cannot promise support if you are using these products. Graphics drivers are listed in probably order of quality, from highest (the RIVA TNT driver works very well for us here [it was rock-solid for us at Comdex], it's just not thoroughly tested yet) to lowest (the Cirrus and Trio64 chipsets are obsolete, and are not recommended):
Important Note: If your card is not in either of the two lists above, basically identical to a card listed above, or based on a chipset listed above, your card is not compatible with the BeOS. You don't need to ask us if it might work; it won't. We are not at this time announcing cards, chipsets, or timeframes for future improvements to this list. When we know more, we'll post more. Really.
BeOS Ready Network Cards
The BeOS supports the following Ethernet cards (PCMCIA is not yet supported):
* BeOS networking performance on 100 Mbps networks is currently...unimpressive. We know it, we know what the issues are, and we will fix it. Count on it.
BeOS Ready Sound Cards
We fully intend to expand our support for sound cards in the future releases of the BeOS, as well as releasing drivers on an ongoing basis. For now, though, here's the list:
While we have scattered reports that some other Soundblaster/compatible cards (like the SoundBlaster 16) work with the BeOS, they are not supported and may not work in your system at this time. And, while we fully intend to expand our sound card support in future releases, as a product that is focused on the needs of more demanding audio functions and solutions, our efforts are being focused on cards with higher capabilities than SB16.
BeOS Ready SCSI Cards
SCSI on PCs is a wild and wooly world. We're working to support the most popular SCSI add-in cards, but full support will take time.
The following SCSI chipsets and cards are fully-supported by BeOS Release 4:
Experimental SCSI Support
Support for the following SCSI chipsets and cards is included in BeOS Release 4. However, some users have experienced difficulties with this driver, and we have identified problems with the software itself. Resolving these issues will require an update.
Until then, you can try the BeOS on your system with these cards. It works for many people. However, it also may not work, to the point where you won't be able to boot the BeOS at all while the card is installed. We'll fix this as soon as we can.
Support for Portables and Laptops
At the present time, the BeOS provides minimal support for portable PCs. While there is some support for the NeoMagic graphics chipset frequently used in portables, that support covers a modest number of systems.
Additionally, the BeOS does not at this time have true support for PCMCIA / PC Card technology (the PCMCIA NE2000 Ethernet driver is considered experimental), so your access to network and modem services will likely be very limited (serial-connected external devices work fine, though). And there is currently no power management support in the BeOS, so battery life is...not optimal.
Finally, due to the engineering constraints that portables' size and weight restrictions impose, many portables use custom logic that may prevent the BeOS from running.
If it sounds like we're trying to discourage using the BeOS on portables, it's because we are. Our support for portable hardware is simply not ready for prime time -- yet (we're working on both PCMCIA and power management). If you're still undaunted, here's the specs on the one portable model we've tested (we have 4 of them here at Be):
CTX EXBook 700 series
Recently (July 1998) on sale at Fry's for $999, and they throw in a scanner and a PCMCIA faxmodem card (not usable with the BeOS).
Another portable owned by another Be engineer, which seems to work fine:
Sony Vaio, model PCG-731
If you are looking for other BeOS compatibility information, especially concerning specific support for products or technologies, see the BeOS for Intel FAQ. Many other questions are answered there, e.g., FireWire support, Voodoo support, etc.
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