ECS P4VXAD Vs. Azza P4X2AV

2 thumbs up

The ECS P4VXAD -Vs.- The Azza P4X2-AV
Battle of the VIA P4X266s!

By, Marco Chiappetta
November 29, 2001

Intel and VIA are entangled in a nasty legal battle, and because of this, VIA's P4X266 Pentium 4 chipset has been surrounded by much controversy.  Intel is trying to stop the distribution of the P4X266 because they claim VIA is not licensed to use some of their technology, while VIA alleges all of the licenses they need to manufacture this chipset were obtained when they purchased S3.  All of the legal matters surrounding VIA's chipset have prevented some manufacturers from embracing the P4X266.  Dave took a look at a P4X266 board from Shuttle a few weeks back, but other than the Shuttle AV40 we haven't heard of too many other boards that were outfitted with the P4X266.

Things are starting to change now though.  The legal matters are ongoing, but Tyan has announced they will be releasing a P4X266 based board, VIA themselves are selling motherboards and two more players have already released P4X266 based motherboards, ECS and AZZA.  In this review we'll be comparing ECS's P4XVAD and Azza's P4X2-AV.  Both of these boards offer similar features at a very low price.  As of today the ECS board can be found for around $75 US, while the Azza board hovers around $90.  Let's start the comparison and see what we find out...

Specifications / Features of the ECS P4VXAD and Azza P4X2-AV
Fully Loaded...

Click any Image for an Enlarged view...

ECS

Chipset:

  • (North) VIA P4X266

  • Support Pentium 4 System bus

  • Support DDR 200 / 266 SDRAM

  • (South) VIA VT8233

  • Built in high bandwidth 266MB/S

Processor:

  • Intel Pentium 4 in the 478 pin package

Expansion Slot:

  • Support external AGP V2.0 compliant VGA device

  • Support 1X, 2X, 4X AGP data transfer

  • 5 x PCI slots

Onboard Audio:

  • VIA AC'97 2.1 compliant CODEC

Memory:

  • 3 184pin DDR DIMM Slot

On board IDE Controller:

  • 2 x UltraDMA/100 Bus Master IDE

  • 80-pin Cable Backward Compatible Legacy ATAPI Devices

Back Panel:

  • 2 Serial Ports

  • 1 Parallel Port (SPP, EPP, ECP)

  • 1 PS/2 Keyboard Port

  • 1 PS/2 Mouse Port

  • 2 USB Ports

  • 1x Game / MIDI Port

  • 1x Line in, 1x Line out, 1x Mic

Connectors:

  • 1 x ATX power connector

  • 2 X IDE connectors

  • 1 x Floppy

BIOS:

  • Stored in 2 Mb flash memory

  • CPU 100 / 133MHz FSB setting

  • BIOS FSB step-less setting from 100MHz to 133MHz

  • Bootable from Floppy, ATAPI device, USB device, SCSI device

AZZA

Chipset:

  • (North) VIA P4X266
  • Support Pentium 4 System bus
  • Support DDR 200 / 266 SDRAM
  • (South) VIA VT8233
  • Built in high bandwidth 266MB/S

Processor:

  • Intel Pentium 4 in the 478 pin package

Expansion Slot:

  • Support external AGP V2.0 compliant VGA device
  • Support 1X, 2X, 4X AGP data transfer
  • 6  x PCI slots

Onboard Audio:

  • VIA AC'97 2.1 compliant CODEC

Memory:

  • 3 184pin DDR DIMM Slot

On board IDE Controller:

  • 2 x UltraDMA/100 Bus Master IDE
  • 80-pin Cable Backward Compatible Legacy ATAPI Devices

Back Panel:

  • 2 Serial Ports
  • 1 Parallel Port (SPP, EPP, ECP)
  • 1 PS/2 Keyboard Port
  • 1 PS/2 Mouse Port
  • 2 USB Ports
  • 1x Game / MIDI Port
  • 1x Line in, 1x Line out, 1x Mic

Connectors:

  • 1 x ATX power connector
  • 1 x 4 pin 12V ATX power connector
  • 1 x 6 pin 5V / 3.3V ATX power connector
  • 2 X IDE connectors
  • 1 x Floppy

BIOS:

  • Stored in 2 Mb flash memory
  • CPU 100 / 133MHz FSB setting
  • BIOS FSB step-less setting from 100MHz to 133MHz with 1 MHz increment
  • Bootable from Floppy, ATAPI device, USB device, SCSI device

THE BUNDLES:

The ECS P4VXAD came with what we consider a "standard" bundle.  Inside the box, we found an 80-Wire UDMA/100 IDE cable, a standard Floppy cable and a CD containing all of the necessary drivers to get the board up and running.  Our package did not have a complete user's manual (a single page outlining the case header was provided), but boards in the retail channel should have a full manual.

Our findings when we opened the Azza P4X2-AV's box were similar.  The same cables, and a similar driver CD were included, but our Azza board did have a complete user's manual.

We would have liked to have seen both ECS and Azza include the hardware necessary to take advantage of the extra on-board USB headers and perhaps another IDE cable.  As it stands now, both companies provided just enough to get their products up and running.

INSTALLATIONS:

Installation of the ECS P4VXAD was very easy.  We did not experience any "issues" and were able to connect our hardware and have the board up and running within minutes.  We did encounter a few problems with the Azza P4X2 though...

Initially, we could not get our P4X2 to post.  We cleared the CMOS, tried multiple brands of memory, different video cards and power supplies, but nothing worked.  I then removed the board and took it over to Dave's test bench and using his power supply with the same hardware that initially wouldn't work, the board posted.  I then brought it back to my station, and using one of the power supplies that didn't work initially, everything still functioned properly.  We never did narrow down the exact cause of our problem, it could have been an oversight on my part, but nonetheless I felt the need to report our experience.

Out troubles didn't stop there with the Azza P4X2 though.  Before we installed Windows 2000, we adjusted the BIOS so both boards were configured similarly.  We used some Crucial memory set to CAS 2, 1T with 4-Way Interleaving, but Windows 2000 would not install completely.  We would get about half way through the installation, and it would get stuck in a loop.  We lowered the memory timings, and Windows 2000 then installed properly.  We then set the memory back to the more aggressive timings and Windows 2000 continued to run properly and the board remained stable throughout testing...strange...only the installation had a problem.

The BIOSes, Layouts and Quality 

 
 

Article Index:

Login or Register to Comment
Post a Comment