VIA's P4XB P4X266A Motherboard!

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VIA's P4XB P4X266A Motherboard
Yes, VIA is Selling Motherboards Now!

By, Marco Chiappetta
February 14, 2002

THE BIOS:

The VIA P4XB is equipped with the very popular Award BIOS, that we've seen on the vast majority of motherboards that pass through our labs.  We were very pleased to see options to adjust virtually every aspect of the board's integrated peripherals, memory and CPU timings.

       

       

       

VIA even opted to include a very complete "Frequency / Voltage Control" section which allows users to tweak their CPU's FSB, VCore voltage and DRAM voltage.  On the rare chance you're lucky enough to have an unlocked Intel CPU in your possession, the multiplier can be adjusted as well.

OVERCLOCKING:

   

If you take a look at the two screenshots above you can see a "close-up" of the "Frequency / Voltage Control" section of the BIOS.  From within this menu, the CPU VCore voltage can be raised a full 1/10 of a volt in .025v increments.  The FSB maxes out at 199MHz, adjustable in 1MHz. increments, the DDR DRAM voltage can be set between 2.5V and 2.65V in .5V increments, and the multiplier has a selectable range of 8X - 24X.

In an attempt to overclock our 1.9GHz. CPU, we experimented with a variety of FSB (Front Side Bus) frequencies, raised the voltage to our CPU and RAM to the maximum settings and were able to hit a completely stable speed of 2.08GHz. (19x109MHz.), with our memory set to the most aggressive timings.  Keep in mind that at the "+33MHz" memory setting, with a 109MHz FSB, our memory was actually running at 142MHz.  We could have taken our CPU even higher, but opted not to do so because we had to set our memory with less aggressive timings to keep things stable.

Layout and Installation
What's to see?

As we do with every product that passes through the H.H. lab, we gave the VIA P4XB a complete physical inspection before installing it into our test system.

       

Looking at the external case connectors doesn't reveal anything wild or out of the ordinary, unless you get all hot and bothered over on-board AC'97 audio!  The slot configuration was decent, with 5 PCI slots, 1 AGP slot and a CNR slot making an appearance.  While we understand the merits of a CNR slot, I don't think I've ever seen one used.  We would have preferred to see the CNR slot dumped in favor of a sixth PCI slot.  Then again, I don't remember the last time I saw a system with five PCI cards installed either!  Pay close attention to the back of the AGP slot.  The slot is extended a bit, which helps hold a video card in place if the system is moved around.  Just behind the CNR slot you can see the extra USB headers.  Six total USB connectors are available.

       

Around the tiny Socket 478, you'll find the customary plastic heatsink bracket. While these brackets may look cheesy, I think they're great.  Installing and removing coolers on the new P4s is a piece of cake, and you don't have to worry about jamming a screwdriver through your PCB if you slip!  Also visible around the socket are 11 capacitors for cleaning and stabilizing the current flowing to the CPU, and they do their job well.  Clean, smooth power flow is necessary for stable computing and the P4XB was just that...stable.  The Northbridge is "cooled" by a chrome, passive heatsink labeled, "P4X266", but don't fret!  There is a P4X266A under there!  The heatsink is mounted with thermal tape (which is very unpopular around the H.H. lab), but the P4X266A Northbridge runs so cool, its not a problem. Throughout testing, the heatsink barely got warm to the touch.  Just between the fourth and fifth PCI slots you can see a buzzer, which eliminates the need for a speaker in your case.  This is a simple, often overlooked addition to some boards, but anything that reduces the amount of wires and clutter in a case is OK in my book!

    

The VIA P4XB is equipped with 3 DIMM slots, which thankfully were placed far enough away from the AGP slot to allow us to install DIMMs without having to remove our video card.  IDE and Floppy connectors are also well placed behind the DIMM slots, perpendicular with the upper edge of the board, out of the way of any other components.  In the adjacent corner you can see locations where a RAID controller and it's connectors could be placed.  (There is also a model P4XB-R available that adds an on-board Promise controller as well as better C-Media on-board sound.)  One thing that turned us off a bit was the lack of fan headers.  There are only two available on the board, one of which will be used by your CPU cooler.

installing the P4XB was a piece of cake.  Because of the board's jumperless nature and ATX compliance, installing the board was just a matter of tightening a few screws and plugging in our hardware...
 



How Does it Perform?!?

Tags:  Motherboard, VIA, X2, P4, board, AR

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