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Abit IC7G and Asus P4C800 Canterwood Mobotherboards
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Date: May 05, 2003
Section:Motherboards
Author: HH Editor
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Abit IC7G and Asus P4C800 Canterwood Mobotherboards - Page 1

Abit IC7-G vs. Asus P4C800
A tale of two Canterwoods

By, Dave Altavilla
April 29, 2003

     

Intel's i875P/i865P Canterwood/Springdale chipsets have all the markings of a second coming; the second coming of the "BX".  Intel's 440BX was a chipset for the Pentium 3, that reigned supreme years ago, as the premier motherboard platform to couple with a high end Intel CPU.  Back in the day, there were so many incarnations of motherboards built on the 440BX, that it even scaled beyond its targeted life span and host bus speed, with some motherboard manufacturers characterizing the chipset up to a 133MHz system bus, while it was only designed to run at 100MHz.  Yes, the BX was the place to be back then.  VIA and a few other competitors stepped up to take shots at the "Big I" but at the end of the day, it was all surface noise.

Since then, the Pentium 4 has had a bit of a tough road with respect to chipsets.  Intel's i850(E) chipset was saddled with an ever controversial and expensive RDRAM memory interface and it ultimately hindered the P4's pervasiveness in the mainstream, allowing AMD's Athlon to take off within the enthusiast markets.  Realizing this, Intel re-targeted its sights on DDR technology and released the i845, which was a step in the right direction from a cost standpoint, but didn't quite have the gas to compete toe to toe with RDRAM's impressive memory bandwidth.  As such, once again VIA, SiS and other chipset manufacturers tried to fill the performance void, with solutions of their own, some more promising than others.  Still it's a tall order, to compete in the high end, especially when no one knows how to build Pentium 4 chipsets, like the manufacturer of the CPU, Intel.

However, with the advent of Intel's Canterwood chipset, released a few short weeks ago, Performance PC Enthusiasts, System Integrators and OEMs alike, all have something to cheer about.  Finally we have a high performance Dual Channel DDR chipset for the Pentium 4, with an extremely high level of integration and it's built by Intel. 

Today, we'll take a look at two new motherboards built on the i875P "Canterwood" chipset, in a side by side comparison.  Two of the top Enthusiast Motherboard OEMs, Abit and Asus, will be showcased here.  Let's strap in, boot up, lock and load.  

Specifications & Features of Abit IC7-G and Asus P4C800
Canterwood driven features and performance


Abit IC7-G

  • Processor
    - Supports Intel® Pentium® 4 Socket 478 processors with 800/533MHz FSB only
    (400MHz FSB not supported)
    - Supports Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology
     
  • Chipset
    - Intel® 875P / ICH5 RAID
    - Supports Intel® CSA Gigabit LAN
    - Supports Dual Channel DDR 400 with ECC function
    - Supports Performance Acceleration Technology (PAT) function
    - Supports Advanced Configuration and Power Management Interface (ACPI)
     
  • Memory
    - Four 184-pin DIMM sockets
    - Supports 4 DIMM Single/Dual Channel DDR 400 memory (Max. 4GB).
    - Supports configurable ECC function
     
  • AGP
    - Accelerated Graphics Port connector supports AGP PRO 8X/4X (0.8V/1.5V)
     
  • Serial ATA and Serial ATA RAID
    - 2 channel Serial ATA 150MB/s data transfer rate with RAID function (0) via South Bridge
    - 2 channel Serial ATA 150MB/s data transfer rate with RAID function (0/1) via Silicon Image PCI Chip
     
  • Audio
    - 6-Channel AC 97 CODEC on board
    - Professional digital audio interface supports 24-bit S/P DIF optical In/Out
    - 2 SPDIF Connectors On Backplate
     
  • Media XP (Optional)
    - Supports card reader function for Memory Stick?, Secure Digital? and Type I/II CompactFlash?
    - Supports Wireless Remote Control and S/PDIF Out / Mic In / Headphone Out / USB 2.0 / IEEE 1394
     
  • Gigabit LAN
    - On board Intel CSA (Communication Streaming Architecture) Gigabit LAN
     
  • IEEE 1394
    - 3 channels (one on backplate)
    - Supports IEEE 1394a at 100/200/400 Mb/s transfer rate
     
  • USB 2.0
    - Supports 8 USB2.0 ports (4 on backplate)
     
  • System BIOS
    - SoftMenu? Technology to set CPU parameters
    - CPU, Memory, and AGP voltage adjustable
    - Adjustable FSB/DDR ratio. Fixed AGP/PCI frequencies
    - Supports Plug-and-Play (PNP)
    - Supports Advanced Configuration Power Interface (ACPI)
    - Supports Desktop Management Interface (DMI)
    - Write-Protect Anti-Virus function by AWARD BIOS
     
  • Internal I/O Connectors
    - 1 x AGP PRO, 5 x PCI slots, 1 x IrDA
    - 1 x Floppy Port supports up to 2.88MB
    - 2 x Ultra DMA 33/66/100 Connectors  (via ICH5)
    - 4 x Serial ATA 150 Connectors (via ICH5 and Silicon Image Cntrl)
    - 2 x USB 2.0 headers, 2 x IEEE 1394a header
    - 1 x CD-IN, 1 x AUX-IN

 
Asus P4C800 Deluxe

  • Processor
    - Supports Intel® Pentium® 4 Socket 478 processors with 800/533/400MHz FSB
    - Supports Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology
     

  • Chipset
    - Intel® 875P / ICH5 RAID
    - Supports Intel® CSA Gigabit LAN
    - Supports Dual Channel DDR 400 with ECC function
    - Supports Performance Acceleration Technology (PAT) function
    - Supports Advanced Configuration and Power Management Interface (ACPI)
     
  • Memory
    - Four 184-pin DIMM sockets
    - Supports 4 DIMM Single/Dual Channel DDR 400 memory (Max. 4GB).
    - Supports configurable ECC function
     
  • AGP
    - Accelerated Graphics Port connector supports AGP PRO 8X/4X (0.8V/1.5V)
     
  • Serial ATA and Serial ATA RAID
    - 2 channel Serial ATA 150MB/s data transfer rate with RAID function (0) via South Bridge
    - 2 channel Serial ATA 150MB/s data transfer rate with RAID function (0/1) via Promise 20378 RAID controller
     
  • Audio
    - AI Audio ADI AD1985 SoundMAX 6-channel CODEC
    - Audio Sensing and Enumeration Technology
    - Supports S/PDIF out interface
    - One RCA Connector On Backplate
     
  • Gigabit LAN
    - AI LAN 3COM 3C940 Gigabit LAN PCI Controller supporting 10/100/1000 BASE-T Ethernet
    - Virtual Cable Tester? Net-Diagnosing Utility
    - AI BIOS Feature CrashFree BIOS2, Q-Fan, Post Reporter
     
  • IEEE 1394
    - 3 channels (one on backplate)
    - Supports IEEE 1394a at 100/200/400 Mb/s transfer rate
     
  • USB 2.0
    - Supports 8 USB2.0 ports (4 on backplate)
     
  • System BIOS
    AI BIOS Feature CrashFree BIOS2, Q-Fan, Post Reporter
    AI Overclock -Intelligent CPU frequency tuner
    -ASUS JumperFree
    -CPU, Memory, and AGP voltage adjustable
    -SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection) from 100MHz up to 400MHz at 1MHz increment
    -Adjustable FSB/DDR ratio. Fixed AGP/PCI frequencies
    -ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall) 
     
  • Internal I/O Connectors
    - 1 x AGP PRO, 5 x PCI slots, 1 x IrDA
    - 1 x Floppy Port supports up to 2.88MB
    - 1 x  Ultra DMA 33/66/100/133 Connector (via Promise Cntrl)
    - 2 x Ultra DMA 33/66/100 Connectors (via ICH5)
    - 4 x Serial ATA 150 Connectors  (via ICH5 and Promise Cntrl)
    - 2 x USB 2.0 headers, 2 x IEEE 1394a header
    - 1 x CD-IN, 1 x AUX-IN
    - 1 x ASUS WIFI Connector for optional wireless LAN upgrade


What can you say about the i875P chipset and its companion ICH5 Southbridge?  Plain and simple, it's got it all.  Serial ATA w/ RAID 0 support, Legacy ATA100, a 10/100/1000 LAN interface with Intel's CSA (Communication Streaming Architecture), 6 Channel Audio, USB2.0, AGP8X and Dual Channel DDR DRAM support up to 400MHz DDR.  Drop in an 800MHz capable System Bus (533 and 400MHz supported as well) and you've got just about everything you could want in a high performance P4 implementation.  Of course, Motherboard OEMs, like Abit and Asus, will continue to innovate and enhance this base architecture, adding more bells and whistles, as well as performance optimizations.  We tested Intel's D875PBZ, a nice, stable but shall we say, "conservative" Canterwood board direct from Intel, in our launch article.  The boards coming in now form various Taiwanese manufacturers, are darn impressive frankly.  Let's have a closer look at two of them.  First up, Abit's IC7-G...

Up Close and Personal With The Abit IC7-G

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Abit IC7G and Asus P4C800 Canterwood Mobotherboards - Page 2

Abit IC7-G vs. Asus P4C800
A tale of two Canterwoods

By, Dave Altavilla
April 29, 2003

 

Abit's IC7-G was delivered in typical Abit flair, with swank packaging and lots of add in peripherals to sweeten the deal.  Abit also took the Canterwood layout and dressed it up a bit, fleshing out many of the innate capabilities of the new Intel ICH5 Southbridge, as well as a few supporting enhancement components.

Up Close and Personal With The Abit IC7-G
Canterwood Abit style

Click images for full view
   

   

   

The kit contains all that you would need to complete a new i875P based system, with literally all of the various cabling requirements covered quite well.  Abit is appealing to the enthusiast segment for sure with this bundle, providing rounded cables for standard ATA100/133 connections, as well as Serial ATA cables.  It was also very refreshing to see two Serial ATA power cables in this bundle, something we have yet to see from many motherboard OEMs that are building SATA capable boards.  If that weren't enough, Abit also includes one of their "Serillel" Serial to Parallel ATA adapters, should you want to make the jump to the SATA interface but don't have one of the currently hard to come by SATA Hard Drives.

Layout wise, the board is neat and clean and follows very much the same general landscape of the Intel reference design, with a few pleasant modifications and enhancements along the way.  Abit has elected to go with "active" cooling on the i875P Northbridge chip, with a futuristic looking bright blue fan on top of their heat-sink.  However, we aren't all that confident that this solution provides superior "heat transfer" from the chip itself.  The heat-sink itself is thin and smallish and although the fan keeps it quite cool, conduction from the chipset core perhaps isn't as good as the larger, heavier sinks we see on other motherboards these days.  Heat transfer is as important as heat dissipation or radiation and as such the smaller metal sink underneath this fan, seems a little too meager.  If Abit were to use a larger sink underneath this fan, it would be ideal.  The rest of the board is simply top notch design, including a 4 phase MOSFET power solution, with plenty of large 105C Capacitors, for stable, clean power.

There are several other bonus add-on features of this board, including the addition of the Silicon Image SiL3112 SATA RAID Controller (underneath the IC7-G sticker), to complement the SATA RAID capabilities of the Intel Southbridge.  This board offers a total of 4 SATA channels and two PATA channels.  The ICH5 SATA channels support RAID 0 functionality (Intel is rumored to be offering other RAID modes in future driver releases) and the SI Controller offers RAID 0, 1 and 0+1 configurations.   Abit also dropped in a Texas Instruments driven FireWire Controller, for three total available channels, for you video editing buffs, as well as the Intel Pro 1000CT Gigabit LAN controller, for full GigE network connectivity.  Sound-wise, Abit's AC '97 6 channel solution, is augmented with lots of output connections for center and rear channels, as well as dual SPDIF outputs.  Finally, there are 4 USB 2.0 ports on the back plate and another 4 available off internal motherboard connectors.  Abit also included the back slot connector plate to bring the additional USB ports out from the motherboard.  All in all, the IC7-G is a really nice offering from Abit, from a feature-set standpoint.

Abit IC7-G BIOS Setup
SoftMenu - The original

Click images for full view

 

In our opinion, the BIOS setup menus are truly, the "soul" of a motherboard.  In this case the Abit IC7-G definitely has soul.  This BIOS is driven by the latest Award Software BIOS, with standard issue Abit "SoftMenu" innovations.  You can tweak pretty much anything, from processor, to memory and AGP, to your hearts delight and with a wide range of voltage controls.  You can take the processor all the way up to 1.9V, DDR DRAM up to 2.8 and AGP voltage up to 1.7V.  Then of course there are the usual memory divisor and timing settings, with 1:1, 5:4 and 3:2 available as derivatives off the memory bus. These provide decent flexibility when you are taking bus speeds well beyond standard spec... and you most likely will, if you are working with board.  Did we mention FSB selection, in 1MHz increments up to 300MHz?  Yes sir, this BIOS is ready to rock.

 

Up Close and Personal With The Asus P4C800 Deluxe

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Abit IC7G and Asus P4C800 Canterwood Mobotherboards - Page 3

Abit IC7-G vs. Asus P4C800
A tale of two Canterwoods

By, Dave Altavilla
April 29, 2003

 

We configured identical test setups for all motherboards used in the following benchmarks.  We used a standard WinXP Professional installation with Service Pack 1.  Automatic Updates, and System Restore were turned off and the Windows GUI was set to "best performance" in the visual effects section of the advanced settings control panel.  Please take a look at our system configuration for reference.

HotHardware Test Setup
Better, stronger, faster...

Pentium 4 Processors at 3GHz  - 800MHz System Bus
Motherboard and RAM Config
Intel D875PBZ i875P "Canterwood" Motherboard
Asus P4C800 "Canterwood" Motherboard
Abit IC7-G "Canterwood" Motherboard
512MB of Kingston HyperX PC3500 CAS 2 RAM
CAS Timings for all boards used, were 2-2-2-5, with the exception of the overclocking tests,
where we set the Asus and Abit boards to "SPD Detect".
Other Hardware and Software:
ATi Radeon 9700 Pro
Seagate Barracuda V SATA 120GB HD
Windows XP Professional SP1
ATi Catalyst 3.2 Drivers
Intel Release Chipset Driver  v5.00.1012
Intel Applications Accelerator RAID Edition v3.0.0.229

Sandra Benchmarks
Synthetic testing

We typically ease into the benchmarks, to make sure we have things configured properly, and take some quick readings with SiSoft's Sandra utility.  Here are the results.

3GHz Sandra Testing - 800MHz FSB - 400MHz Dual Channel DDR

IC7-G CPU Test

 

P4C800 CPU Test

 

 IC7-G Mem Test

 

 P4C800 Mem Test

 

IC7-G MM Test

 

 P4C800 MM Test

 

There is really nothing earth-shattering to report here.  Both boards are performing well and within a few percentage points of the Intel i875P board we tested in our Canterwood launch article.  Both boards are actually a notch or two ahead of what we saw with the Intel board but this is typical, since Intel strives for ultimate stability with their boards and many motherboard OEMs often optimize for performance on the architecture, once a chipset is released.  We did note the usual clock "goosing" that is indicative of Asus boards, where the P4C800 is aggressively timed at 3.03GHz, even though the board was set to stock speed in the BIOS.  This gives the P4C800 a marginal lead in all the tests but in a sense, this is factory set overclocking of sorts. 

Regardless, both boards perform admirably and you've got to love those memory scores, approaching 5K MB/sec and blowing PC1066 RDRAM reference system scores right out of the water.

Overclocking With The Asus P4C800 and Abit IC7-G
Nip and tuck...

The results for our overclocking tests may surprise you.  Both boards seemed very much up to the task but surprisingly the Abit IC7-G's higher available CPU voltages, didn't allow it to surpass the P4C800.

Abit's IC7-G steps up:

CPUID 3GHz

CPUID 3.38GHz


CPU Test 3.38GHz


Mem Test 225MHz FSB

Asus P4C800 Overclocking:

CPUID 3GHz

CPUID 3.45GHz


CPU Test 3.45GHz


Mem Test 230MHz FSB

In this test, we decided to leave the CPU multiplier on our unlocked Intel P4C 3GHz CPU, set to 15X, the standard multiplier for retail product.  After all, you can't buy an unlocked P4 on the retail market.  As such, we were limited to raising the FSB speeds and CPU voltages, to achieve each board's highest stable overclock.  We obviously used the same HSF on the CPU and same Kingston DDR PC3500 DDR memory.  We also elected to leave the memory clock divisors at 1:1 and set the timings to SPD detect, for stability at these overclocked speeds.  We've seen our Kingston memory hit 460MHz DDR and higher, so we wanted to see how each of these boards would handle not only the stress of a CPU overclock but the stress of the extremely high memory speeds as well.

Remember, technically the Asus board is already overclocked slightly, even at default speeds, as we saw in the Sandra tests above.  Additionally, it only allows CPU voltage adjustments up to 1.7V, unlike the Abit IC7-G that goes all the way up to 1.9V.  Try as we might, we couldn't get the IC7-G stable at 3.45G with a 460MHz DDR memory speed.  However, the P4C800 ran our entire suite of benchmark test, including 3DMark 03, without crashing, at this speed.  The Abit board was right up there, just behind the Asus board however, coming in a close second at 3.38GHz CPU and 450MHz memory speed.  It was a very close race here for sure but ultimately, the way we ran this overclocking effort, the Asus P4C800 just edged out the IC7-G from Abit.  In the end, the average user may have more overclocking options/headroom with the IC7-G, since it does allow higher CPU voltages (at least until Asus releases a new BIOS rev) but either board is more than capable in this area.
 

Winstones and XMPEG Benchmarks

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Abit IC7G and Asus P4C800 Canterwood Mobotherboards - Page 4

Abit IC7-G vs. Asus P4C800
A tale of two Canterwoods

By, Dave Altavilla
April 29, 2003

 

Getting down to the real benchmarking numbers, we'll cover the Business and Content Creation, desktop performance side of this showcase by giving you some relative metrics with Business and Content Creation Winstone 2002.

Business and Content Creation Winstone
Desktop Application Performance

Applications used in the Business Winstone tests include:

  • Five Microsoft Office 2002 applications (Access, Excel, FrontPage, PowerPoint, and Word)

  • Microsoft Project 2000

  • Lotus Notes

  • WinZip 8.0

  • Norton AntiVirus

  • Netscape Communicator

 

 

 

Applications used in the Content Creation Winstone tests include:

  • Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1

  • Adobe Premiere 6.0

  • Macromedia Director 8.5

  • Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev 4

  • Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 7.01.00.3055

  • Netscape Navigator 6/6.01

  • Sonic Foundry Sound Forge 5.0c (build 184)

 

 

 

Veritest's Winstone benchmarks are fairly hard disk performance sensitive and in the Business and Content Creation tests, we're looking at what one would call a virtual "photo finish".  We used a Seagate Barracuda V SATA drive for each of the tests and drove the HD interface from the ICH5 Southbridge of the Intel chipset on each of these boards.  We've covered specific performance levels of Promise SATA controllers, like the one used the Asus board, as well as the Silicon Image controller used on the Abit board, here at HotHardware, in the past.  To get an idea of Serial ATA and Serial ATA RAID performance with these new controllers, please head to our January 14th Seagate SATA HD article here, our March 20th Maxtor SATA HD article here, and our recent endeavors with Intel's ICH5, here.

Other than the small variances you see in the Winstone test scores, which were completely within the margin of error for these two tests, the results were a bit of a yawn.  None of the motherboards here stepped out in front of the pack, with any real  significant performance advantage.

 

XMPEG DIVX 5.02 Encoding
Video Encoding Performance

It wasn't until we fired up something a little more taxing on system bandwidth, that we began to see the field spread out a bit.  In our XMPEG test, we convert our standard in-house "Gomer Pyle" video clip (a relic for sure), which is a 200MB MPEG file, into DivX format.  Here are the results.

 


Scores measured in frames per second - higher scores are better

 

 

The Abit IC7-G and Asus P4C800 clearly show an edge, at default speeds, over the conservatively built Intel board.  Specifically, the Asus P4C800 shows a slight edge here over the other two contenders, which is more than likely due to its aggressive memory and CPU timings, when set at default speeds.  Regardless, the performance lead between the Asus P4C800 and the Abit IC7-G, is certainly negligible enough, that it is completely imperceptible to the end user.

 

3DMark 2003 and PCMark 2002

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Abit IC7G and Asus P4C800 Canterwood Mobotherboards - Page 5

Abit IC7-G vs. Asus P4C800
A tale of two Canterwoods

By, Dave Altavilla
April 29, 2003

 

FutureMark's 3DMark 2003 is a for all intents and purposes, a Graphics Card benchmark.  However, since many enthusiasts and end users, that would take an interest in the latest and greatest motherboard technology, are also more than just casual Gamers, we feel it is another good data-point, as a component in the complete picture of performance analysis.   

3DMark 2003
DX8 and DX9 Gaming Synthetic Benchmarks

The first test we ran, was the default setting for this benchmark, which sets the Graphics Card (in this case our Radeon 9700Pro) to 1024X768 resolution at 32 bit color levels.  At this setting the test is very Graphics Subsystem limited and the CPU and Motherboard are only weighting the scores to a certain extent.  However, this test does illustrate a good point of reference.

 

The point here is that, unless the game you are playing is also heavily burdened with things like positional and terrain calculations, as with Flight Sims or AI (artificial intelligence) calculations, as with some FPS games for example, then most likely the Graphics Card in your system is going to be the bottleneck, especially at high resolutions.  As such, a few percentage points here and there for CPU/Motherboard performance, won't drive frame rates much higher.  We'll cover some scenarios where the testing is CPU limited, in future benchmarks here.  However, in this test as you can see, even a 380 - 450MHz overclock doesn't buy you all that much, versus the lowest score put forth by the Intel board.

 

The CPU Performance module of 3DMark 03 tells a bit of a different story though and Asus takes the lead again, by a small margin, with the P4C800.  There is roughly a 2% edge for the P4C800 versus the IC7-G, when at stock 3GHz speeds.  Again, Asus' aggressive PLL timings give it this slight lead.  However, the lead over the Intel board is as much as 5%, which is a little more noticeable.  At overclocked speeds, the P4C800 really begins to break out, again stable at 3.45GHz, with a 1.6V core voltage.

 

PCMark 2002
Synthetic CPU and Memory Bandwidth Testing

PCMark 2002 is a synthetic benchmark that utilizes standard desktop functions like JPEG Decoding, Audio Compression and Text Search. 

 

 

PCMark 2002 shows us that Asus is also optimizing performance with the memory subsystem, slightly better than the Abit board.  Surprisingly there is over a 1000 point lead in the memory test, for the P4C800, although the processor test above shows another three way tie, for the most part.  Could it be that Asus is taking better advantage of Intel's new "PAT" technology (bottom of the page), with chipset memory timings?  Or is this some sort of testing fluke?  We ran this test several times, checking BIOS settings to make sure they were apple to apples.  Each time we came up with the same results.  Asus wins this race hands down.  You should only place so much stock in this synthetic benchmark though.  Let's look at more real-life gaming situations, which should exploit the performance of all the candidates here.

 

Comanche 4, Quake 3 and The Ratings

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Abit IC7G and Asus P4C800 Canterwood Mobotherboards - Page 6

Abit IC7-G vs. Asus P4C800
A tale of two Canterwoods

By, Dave Altavilla
April 29, 2003

 

Novalogic's Comanche 4 Benchmark is about as CPU limited, as we've ever seen, while testing here in the labs at HotHardware.  The game engine tends to rely heavily on the CPU for its Flight Model Physics calculations, even though the Graphics eye-candy in this Sim is very lush and beautiful.  To alleviate the graphics bottleneck even more so however, we also set the game engine down to 640X480 resolution, which allows the CPU/Motherboard combination to run a little more freely.

Novalogic Comanche 4 and Quake 3 Arena Timedemos
DX8 and OpenGL Gaming Performance

Once again, as you can see, the spread isn't all that wide, until we begin to overclock.  The IC7-G and P4C800 were within 3% of each other and even with respect to the Intel board.  The Asus P4C800 does show a slight edge again however and one can't help think that Asus really went the distance in tuning this board.  At overclocked speeds, things tighten up quite a bit between the Abit and Asus board, pointing to the strong possibility that this benchmark is weighted more on the system bus bandwidth, than raw CPU speed per se.

 

 

And lastly we have our Quake 3 Time Demo runs for you here.  Until the arrival of Doom3 (and even then who knows), we'll most likely continue to include this benchmark, since it is such a widely recognized performance metric.

In this test, we used the "Fastest" setting, which sets the resolution to 512X384 and most all color, texture and lighting features to their lowest levels.  This test is basically a CPU/Motherboard Drag Race, since the Radeon 9700Pro isn't even close to breaking a sweat at these settings.  At default speeds we see some pretty wide variances, due largely to CPU and Memory bandwidth differences of the boards, at stock speeds and while overclocked.  At stock speed, the P4C800 bests the Abit IC7-G by over 5%.  However, the tables turn significantly at overclocked speeds and Abit's 3.38GHz speed beats out the Asus 3.45GHz overclock, oddly enough.  Again, the margin is slight however but this does suggest, that while overclocked the Asus board relaxes timings slightly, to maintain stability.  This could account for the P4C800's slightly better "overclockability" factor.  However, a BIOS revision of two from now, Abit can easily close this gap.  As a matter of fact, during testing of the IC7-G, Abit sent us a new BIOS rev, that increased performance and overclocked stability with our board.

 

Well people, I think it is safe to say we're looking at two very fine new motherboards here from Abit and Asus.  Intel's new i875P Canterwood chipset is really where the P4 needed to go, in order to compete head to head with the AMD platforms out there, from a price/performance standpoint.  We've been able to find the IC7-G (note the "G" denotes Gigabit LAN on board) for around $225 on various online search engines.  The P4C800 Deluxe seems to be weighing in at around $190 or so.  The difference in cost can most likely be attributed to the fact that the IC7-G bundle is much better than the P4C800 kit.  Abit gives you the additional USB 2.0 backplate, SATA data and power cables, as well as their "Serillel" converter, in their bundle, which drives the cost up a bit but gives you everything you'll need to build up a new system from scratch and then some.  What's more impressive perhaps, is that you can also get an Abit IC7 (note no "G" on the end here), which doesn't have Gigabit Ethernet on board, nor the extra Silicon Image SATA controller but lists for around $150 at several online resellers.  We haven't seen a "non-Deluxe" version of the Asus P4C800 yet but that may or may not be coming, down the road.

We're completely torn between these two new Canterwood Motherboard actually.  On one hand, you have Abit's great SoftMenu Award driven BIOS, with its fantastic bundle, Intel GigE and Silicon Image SATA RAID controllers.  For sure, the IC7-G performed admirably and it overclocked with grace, in typical Abit fashion.  On the other hand, you have the P4C800, which displayed a slight performance edge over all, had fantastic overclocking capabilities, despite its lower CPU voltage range, and comes in at a lower price point but with a lesser pack-in bundle.  If it weren't for the use of the AMI BIOS on the P4C800 (sorry, it's just not the same for us, without Award under the hood and boy did it play havoc with our flat panel), the scales would have tipped in Asus' favor.   For now, it's a dead-heat in our opinion...

We're giving the Abit IC7-G a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of:

 
 
 
And the Asus P4C800 also scores a Heat Meter rating of:
 

 

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Abit IC7G and Asus P4C800 Canterwood Mobotherboards - Page 7
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