| || |
| P4T533 Layout |
| A little cramped, but overall solid |
Whereas many manufacturers spend time dressing motherboards up in attractive colors and sharp looking boxes, ASUS sticks to the basics ? catchy packaging on a standard PCB. ASUS generally scores aces with their board layout as well, but we do have some qualms with the P4T533. To begin with, the auxiliary 12V connector that supplies extra power to the Pentium 4 processor is inconveniently wedged between the heat sink retention mechanism and the AGP Pro slot. Once connected, the auxiliary cable drapes over the heat sink, potentially obstructing air flow from the processor?s fan. The actual ATX power connector is located right where we like to see it (on the upper right-hand corner of the board), but it is also surrounded by the floppy and IDE connectors, not to mention ASUS? EZ-PLUG. Fully configured, this cluster of connectors causes quite a tangle of cables.
On the other hand, the transition to 32-bit memory modules has eased space constraints and provided for a few extra features. The P4T533 includes a pair of ATA-133 connectors with RAID capabilities through the Promise PDC20276. USB 2.0 comes courtesy of NEC?s controller chip and six channel audio is available from the C-Media CMI8738. With a single AGP Pro slot and six PCI slots, the P4T533 is clearly intended for the enthusiast with no desire for budget-oriented CNR riser cards.
Three fan headers provide the ability to monitor fan RPMs. All three headers can be configured to adjust fan speeds and response times in order to decrease overall system noise and cooling efficiency. Custom warning messages can be vocalized with POST Reporter, should you encounter a problem setting up the motherboard. Finally, ASUS has included the headers necessary to connect a game port, extra USB 2.0 ports, a smart card reader, ASUS? own iPanel and a front panel audio connector.
The BIOS of the ASUS P4T533 Motherboard:
The P4T533 houses two blocks of DIP-switches for configuring both the processor ratio and front side bus frequencies, though we prefer to use ASUS? jumperless mode, that manipulates the same settings within the BIOS. Although Intel hasn?t yet validated the i850E chipset to operate with PC1066 memory, ASUS has enabled the necessary 4x bus ratio for proper PC1066 operation. Both the AGP and PCI busses can be locked at their default frequencies or sped up for additional performance. This feature is particularly useful for overclocking enthusiasts that may want to increase the front side bus frequency without running their AGP and PCI devices beyond their specifications. Processor voltage settings can either be set automatically or changed manually. A quick jumper change adds voltage settings between 1.85 and 1.95V for the Willamette and 1.7 and 1.8V for the Northwood, to the available list for more aggressive overclocking attempts.
The most notable omission from the included Award BIOS is the AGP and RAM voltage setting, which often helps coax stubborn hardware into successfully overclocking.
| || |
| Overclocking the P4T533 Motherboard |
| The Fastest Gets Faster |
Considering that Intel decided not to validate the i850E chipset for use with PC1066 memory, we had our doubts about the P4T533?s headroom. Nevertheless, we were able to increment the front side bus until resting at 150MHz as the most stable overclocked setting. Of course this resulted in an equivalent 600MHz system bus and PC1200 memory speeds. Our 2.4GHz Pentium 4 rested comfortably at 2.7GHz, though we suspect the memory modules limited our overclocking attempts, since extra CPU voltage had no effect on system stability above the 150MHz bus setting.
It?s no secret that the Pentium 4 thrives on memory bandwidth, so exactly how much bandwidth would PC1200 memory provide if it were available? Using SiSoft Sandra 2002, we measured more than 3.6GB per second of sustained data transfer, compared to more than 3.3GB per second for PC1066 and 2.5GB per second for PC800. A quick calculation reveals that the Pentium 4 is capable of utilizing 78 percent of PC800?s theoretical peak bandwidth, 78 percent of PC1066 and 76 percent of PC1200. In short, the Pentium 4, at least for the time being, will make the most of the bandwidth provided to it. DDR memory fares much better, with over 90 percent utilization between the PC2100 and PC2700 standards, but DDR is simply not able to provide the same level of bandwidth. The situation may change when the transition is made to a dual-channel DDR platform, but we?ll save you the speculation for now.
Overall, we drove our P4T533 Quake III score from 232.6 frames per second up to 255.8 frames per second. That's a nine percent improvement gained by running a 600MHz front side bus and a 2.7GHz processor!
Sandra 2002, SysMark 2002 and Comanche 4