Intel Springdale Showdown

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Intel Springdale Showdown - Page 3

The Springdale Showdown
Which board should you "spring" for?

Brought to you by Robert Maloney
July 10, 2003

The Asus P4P800 Deluxe Motherboard:

  

Asus foregoes all of the color schemes and flashiness of the other boards, and focuses on building a stable platform instead.  In what could be considered a throwback, the Asus P4P800 motherboard is based on a tan PCB, with mostly standard colors for connectors.  As with most boards, we had the usual gripe about the AGP slot placement.  It is placed too close to the DIMM slots, which makes it harder to remove installed DIMMs when an AGP card is installed.  There was plenty of room between the AGP slot and the first PCI slot that could have been used to create a larger gap.  Otherwise, we had no real argument with the placement of the rest of the components.  The main IDE and floppy connectors are clustered towards the front of the board along with the 20-pin ATX plug.  The other ATX connector is on the far side of the CPU, not hindered by any power circuitry, and the power cable can be tied neatly around the edge of the board. 


     
     

  

In the corner of the board were two other IDE ports, controlled by the VIA VT6410 RAID controller, offering the user both IDE and SATA RAID possibilities.  Interestingly, one port is placed in a standard position, perpendicular to the end of the board.  The other port, however, is angled like those on the Abit IS7-G.  We aren't sure why the two styles are used, and feel it would have been better to have both of the IDE ports angled along the edge.  The P4P800 was the only board to use passive cooling for the North Bridge, where a large, finned aluminum heatsink was placed.  We will see if this has any overall effect during testing, especially while overclocking the board.  On-board audio was provided by the ADI AD1985 CODEC chip, found at the top of the board along with the VIA VT3407 IEEE1394a (FireWire) Controller and 3COM Gigabit Ethernet controller.  Rather than the clip that is often used with AGP cards to keep them in place, the P4P800 has a sliding lock mechanism, which we find to be a better solution.  The area around the AGP slot was actually quite clear of circuitry, unlike some of the other boards we tested.  What we did find nearby was one of the two LEDs used to alert the user when the board is plugged in, or in standby mode.  Little touches that come in handy for those of us who are constantly building and tearing down systems.

THE BUNDLE:

  

The board is called the P4P800 Deluxe, yet after looking at the board, and the relatively simple bundle, we had to ask where the "Deluxe" in the title came from.  As we described earlier, the board had a number of great features, but not the "look" of a premium board.  The bundle followed suit.  There was a user's manual and quick setup guide, and a drivers CD.  We also found a WinDVD Suite CD to round out the software.  To accompany the music capabilities on the board, there was a music oriented template that can be placed over the keyboard.  Other than that, the other contents of the box were four black IDE ribbon cables, two red SATA cables, and three jumper caps.  No other brackets for additional ports, of which there were plenty of connectors on the board begging to be used.  We can only hope that a "Black Pearl" version of the P4P800 is in the works, with a little more flash and a few more goodies.

Specifications & Features of The Asus P4P800 Deluxe
Tapping into the power of the HyperPath

                    
         

CPU SUPPORT

  • Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor with Hyper-Threading Technology

  • Intel® P4 Northwood and Prescott processors (478-pin)

  • Supports 800MHz, 533MHz or 400MHz FSB

CHIPSET

  • Intel® 82865PE Memory Controller Hub (MCH)

  • Intel® 82801ER I/O Controller Hub (ICH5R)

SYSTEM MEMORY

  • Supports 4 x 184-pin DDR SDRAM

  • DDR200/266/333/400 support (Dual Channel)

  • 4GB maximum system RAM (unbuffered)

  • DDR400 support only when using 800MHz FSB CPUs

BIOS

  • AMI BIOS

  • Supports PnP, ACPI, DMI2.0, SM BIOS 2.3

  • ASUS CrashFree BIOS2

  • ASUS Post Reporter

  • ASUS EZFlash

  • ASUS MyLogo2 feature

  • 4Mb Flash ROM

HARDWARE MONITOR

  • Monitors CPU/MB/ PSU temperatures

  • Monitors CPU/3.3V/5V/±12V voltages

  • Read back capability that displays temperature, voltage and fan speed

  • ASUS Q-Fan Control - sets fan speed ratio

AUDIO FEATURES

  • ADI AD1985 SoundMAX 6-channel CODEC

  • Audio Sensing and Enumeration technology support S/PDIF out

ONBOARD LAN

  • 3COM Marvell 3C940 PCI Gigabit LAN

  • Supports 10/100/1000 Mbps data transfer rates

  • Virtual Cable Tester Net-Diagnosing Utility

ONBOARD FIREWIRE (1394a)

  • VIA VT6307 1394a FireWire controller

  • Supports IEEE 1394a at 400/200/100 Mbs data transfer rate

ACCELERATED GRAPHICS PORT (AGP)

  • Supports 1.5V AGP 8x and AGP 4x for 3D graphics applications

  • (AGP 2x and 3.3V AGP cards are not supported)

  • Supports AGP 3.0 and AGP 2.0 spec.

ATA RAID

  • VIA VT6410 RAID controller

  • RAID 0, 1, 0+1, JBOD

  • 2 Ultra DMA133 support for four hard drives

SERIAL ATA/RAID0 INTERFACES

  • ICH5R supports two SATA (Serial ATA) interfaces which are compliant with SATA 1.0 specification (1.5Gbps interface)

  • ICH5R supports RAID 0

PCI IDE INTERFACE

  • Supports ATA/33, ATA/66 and ATA/100 hard drives

  • PIO Mode 4 Enhanced IDE (data transfer rate up to 14MB/sec.)

  • Bus mastering reduces CPU utilization during disk transfer

  • Supports ATAPI CD-ROM, LS-120 and ZIP

REAR PANEL I/O PORTS

  • 4 USB 2.0/1.1 ports

  • 1 RJ-45 LAN port

  • 1 FireWire (1394a) port

  • 1 DB-9 serial port

  • 1 DB-25 parallel port

  • 1 mini-DIN-6 PS/2 mouse port

  • 1 mini-DIN-6 PS/2 keyboard port

  • 3 audio jacks: line-out, line-in and Mic-in

  • S/PDIF-out optical jack

I/O CONNECTORS

  • 2 connectors for 4 additional external USB 2.0/1.1 ports

  • 1 connector for an additional FireWire port

  • 1 front audio connector for external line-out and Mic-in jacks

  • 3 internal audio connectors (CD-in, AUX-in, Modem)

  • 1 S/PDIF out connector

  • 1 connector for IrDA interface

  • 1 Game/MIDI port connector

  • 2 Serial ATA connectors

  • 4 IDE connectors

  • 1 floppy connector

  • 2 ATX power supply connectors

  • 1 Power Supply Thermal connector

  • 1 Serial Port 2 connector

  • 3 fan connectors for CPU fan, chassis fan and power fan

EXPANSION SLOTS

  • 1 AGP slot, 8X AGP compliant (1.5V support only)

  • 5 32-bit PCI 2.3 slots

  • 1 ASUS WIFI Connector for optional wireless LAN upgrade

STATUS INDICATORS

  • Standby Power LED - lights when system is on or in stand-by mode

FORM FACTOR

  • 4 layers, ATX form factor

  • 30.5cm (12.05") x 24.5cm (9.6")


The BIOS:

     
     

The Asus P4P800 Deluxe came with an AMI (American Megatrends, Inc.) BIOS.  All of the fun stuff can be found under the "Advanced" heading.  In the "Chipset" section, users can fine-tune the memory timings as they see fit, and change the AGP aperture.  Memory Acceleration Mode (MAM) is enabled here as well, which is what drives the "HyperPath" technology, bringing PAT-like performance to the P4P800.  Asus was the first of the manufacturers to incorporate this kind of tweak in their BIOS, and it appears that all of the major players will be quick to follow.

Delving deeper into the Advanced settings, we found what Asus calls the AI Overclock Tuner.  Simply put, this setting can automatically overclock the system by 5%, 10%, 20%, or 30%.  For users who are a bit unsure of what to change when overclocking, this option can take some of the guesswork out of setting up their system.  For our purposes, we left this at "manual".  Instead of ratios, the relative speed of the RAM is shown, correctly using 400, 320, and 266MHz settings.  Some systems mistakenly will show this as "400, 333, 266", but the correct math shows a 5:4 ratio to equal 400/320Mhz.  The CPU voltage options are staggering, going as high as 1.95V in .025V steps.  Hard-core overclockers will appreciate this range, but those who try to go too high risk putting their CPU in danger of being damaged. 

Overclocking: Asus P4P800 Deluxe
Performance and Stability - a great combination

STOCK CPU SPEED
2.40GHz P4

CPU OVERCLOCKED TO
3.48GHz (12 X 290MHz)

We set out overclocking the P4P800 Deluxe, knowing full well that we had plenty of voltage options, the lack of which had stopped us cold on the Albatron 865PE Pro II.  We won't go into the specific details of each and every attempt to overclock the system, but for the most part it was a smooth process, with relatively few crashes or lockups.  Eventually, we got as high as 290MHz for the FSB, the same peak that we reached with the Abit IS7-G.  However, we did not have to disable MAM to get this high, nor did the overall performance tail off as we saw with the Abit board.  While we did not have any problems with standard operations within Windows XP, we could not complete all but one of the benchmarks, even with the CPU Voltage up to 1.75V (we didn't dare going any higher while using a stock Intel cooler.)  We lowered the FSB by 1Mhz at a time, and found the system to be completely testable at 285Mhz, the highest stable overclock of the bunch.

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Tags:  Intel, WD, DOW, Show, SHO, spring

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