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BeOS Ready Systems -- Intel
Intel Architecture Systems Capable of Running the BeOS


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
> Complete BeOS Ready Systems
> BeOS Ready Fundamentals (Processors, Chip Sets, Motherboards)
> BeOS Compatible Graphics Cards
> BeOS Compatible Network Cards
> BeOS Compatible Sound Cards
> BeOS Compatible SCSI Cards
> Support for Portables and Laptops


Minimum Hardware Requirements

  • A BeOS Ready Intel Architecture System. See below for how to determine if your system is compatible with the BeOS for Intel.

  • 16 megabytes of RAM minimum, more strongly recommended.

  • An IDE or SCSI hard disk or hard disk partition with 150 megabytes of space, more highly recommended.

    SCSI drives must be connected to a compatible SCSI adapter interface. See Supported SCSI cards below for a list of compatible SCSI interfaces.

    The BeOS includes a special edition of PowerQuest's PartitionMagic tool to make partitioning your hard drive to make room for the BeOS as quickly and easily as possible. See the PowerQuest web site for more information regarding PartitionMagic:

  • An IDE/ATAPI or SCSI interface CD-ROM drive.

    SCSI drives must be connected to a compatible SCSI adapter interface. See Supported SCSI cards below for a list of compatible SCSI interfaces.

  • Keyboard and mouse compatible with your hardware.

    Serial or PS/2 mice and standard PC-style and PS/2 keyboards are supported. A two (or more) button mouse is highly recommended (serial mice with three buttons will not work; use a one- or two-button serial mouse, or a PS/2-style mouse). An extended keyboard is recommended.

  • A supported graphics card.

    See Supported graphics cards below for a semi-complete list.

  • Multisync monitor strongly recommended.

    While fixed sync monitors are supported (if they are supported by your graphics card), flexibility in screen resolutions is very useful.

  • Network connection via a supported Ethernet card or PPP recommended.

    See Supported networking cards below for a semi-complete list of supported Ethernet cards.

    A great many external and internal (ISA) modems are supported for PPP. Winmodems are not supported. Additional modems can be added; see the PPP Troubleshooting Guide for details.


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!

Note: Some systems vendors such as Dell, Compaq, and Gateway add additional custom logic to their systems, to provide more built-in functionality. The current release of the BeOS sometimes has difficulty with these systems. Be recommends caution when purchasing the BeOS to run on these systems; you should ask any vendor if their hardware is compatible with the BeOS before buying that hardware.

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):

  • Intel Pentium
  • Intel Pentium MMX
  • Intel Pentium Pro
  • Intel Pentium II
  • Intel Pentium II Xeon
  • AMD K6, K6-2
  • Cyrix 686mx, 686GXm (but not the M1)
  • IDT WinChip C6


"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:

  • If you built your computer yourself or if a small "screwdriver shop" (i.e. it's not a big name brand) built it for you, you should have the manual for the motherboard, which should list the chipset used on the motherboard.

  • If you are quick enough, you can watch your machine boot and the BIOS will show on the screen what kind of motherboard you have, before loading your bootloader (if you have one) or operating system.

  • If all else fails, look on the motherboard at the Intel chips (not the processor[s]) -- there should be at least one chip (look at the PCIset chips) that will have some random number ending in some variation of the name of the chipset, e.g., one of the PCIset chips on a motherboard here has the number "FW82439TX" on it, indicating that it has the 430TX chipset.

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

CPU Type/Number Chip Set
Pentium (single) 430FX
Pentium Pro (single) 440FX
Pentium Pro (dual) 440FX
Pentium Pro (quad) 450GX
Pentium II (single) 440FX
Pentium II (dual) 440FX
AMD K6 430TX
Cyrix 686mx  

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 ;-):

CPU Type/Number Chip Set
Pentium II Xeon (quad) 450NX

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:

CPU Type/Number Chip Set
Pentium (dual) 430HX



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 Millennium, Millennium II, Millennium II AGP,
    Mystique, and Mystique 220 cards
  • Matrox MGA-100 and MGA-200 chipset-based cards, such as:
    Productiva G100, Millennium G200, Mystique G200, Marvel
  • ATI 3DRage II, 3DRage Pro, 3DRage Pro Turbo, 3DRage LT Pro chipset-based cards, such as:
    ATI All-in-Wonder, All-in-Wonder Pro, Xpert@Work, Xpert@Work Pro, Xpert98
  • RIVA 128 chipset-based cards, such as:
    Canopus Total3D 128V, Diamond Viper V330, STB Velocity 128
  • Virge, Virge DX, Virge GX (but not Virge VX) card chipsets
  • Some NeoMagic chipset-based graphics (used in many portables)

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):

  • RIVA TNT chipset-based cards, such as:
    Diamond Viper V550, STB Velocity 4400
  • Number9 Imagine 128 and Revolution 3D (via upcoming online update)
  • Some S3 Trio 64 chipset-based cards (PowerPC-only, obsolete, not recommended)
  • Some Cirrus chipset-based cards (obsolete, 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):

  • PCI-based Intel EtherExpress at 10/100 Mbps *
  • PCI-based DEC 21040- and 21041-chipset-based cards (many card manufacturers use this chipset in their cards; Be likes Kingston's cards; contact your favorite card vendor for chipset information)
  • PCI-based 3Com Etherlink XL (3C900 and 3C900-B) at 10 Mbps
  • PCI-based 3Com Fast Etherlink XL (3C905 and 3C905B) at 10/100 Mbps *
  • ISA- and PCI-based NE2000 compatible cards
  • PCMCIA-based NE2000 compatible cards (coming in an online update)

* 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:

  • SoundBlaster AWE32 and AWE64 chipset-based audio (including AWE64 Value & Gold cards)
  • OPTi931 chipset-based audio
  • Yamaha YMF715 chipset-based audio
  • Crystal 4235, 4236, and 4237 chipset-based audio
  • S3 SonicVibes chipset-based audio

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.

Supported SCSI

The following SCSI chipsets and cards are fully-supported by BeOS Release 4:

  • Adaptec AIC7850, AIC7870, AIC7880, and AIC7895 chipset-based SCSI, including:
    Adaptec 2940, 2940-UW, 3940 cards
  • BusLogic BT948, BT958, and BT958D chipset-based SCSI

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.

  • Symbios 53c810A, 53c825, and 53c875 chipset-based SCSI, including:
    Tekram 590U and 590F, Diamond Fireport 20 and Fireport 40


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
200 MHz Pentium MMX
Intel MX chipset
NeoMagic MagicGraph 128XD

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
200 MHz Pentium MMX
NeoMagic graphics chipset (128-bit)


Additional Info

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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