Iwill P4ES i845E Motherboard

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The Iwill P4ES i845E Motherboard - Page 2

The IWILL P4ES Motherboard Review
Serial ATA is on the way!

By, Robert Maloney
October 10, 2002

Quality and Setup of the Iwill P4ES
IDE, SATA, USB, and some other acronyms on board

Perhaps not as glitzy as some of the other motherboards we have reviewed lately, the P4ES makes up for its slight lack of style with a lot of substance.  The layout of the board is clean, with a line of MOSFETs and capacitors up along the edge of the board, right next to the CPU socket.  The board uses two-phase ATX power instead of having three connections, but the placement of both connections was on the far side of the CPU.  This meant we had to route both cables around or over the CPU, hindered by the large Zalman heatsink/fan we had installed.  While not a major nuisance, it still was not an ideal location as it could prevent proper airflow.  In the same area, we also found a plethora of connections for I/O devices such as the memory card readers, game port, COM2 port, as well as the CD-IN connection and option 6-channel audio port bracket.  It's possible to have at least eight separate cables all trying to fit in between the back of the case and the CPU with heatsink.  Far too many connections for just one corner of the board in our opinion.

     

There are only 2 DIMM slots, each supporting up to 1GB of DDR200 or DDR266, which meets the official specifications of the i845 chipset.    In each corner, there was one 3-pin fan header, although I prefer including at least three - the more the merrier.  One feature that I liked was the sliding lock mechanism used to keep the AGP card in the slot securely.  While some boards have a simple lever (and some have nothing at all), the IWILL P4ES has a brace around the AGP slot.  After inserting the AGP card, one slides the brace forward, locking the card into place.  I think that this is the best method of preventing the card from creeping out that we have seen.

     

The floppy drive connector is placed along the edge of the board, close to where the end of the drive would usually be (in most enclosures) and allowed us to keep the cable tightly folded and out of the way.  The IDE ports are placed along the edge in the other corner, and are out of the way of all other cables and drives.  The only detriment here is that a number of typical IDE cables could prevent airflow from a front fan from reaching the rest of the board.  The IDE ports were color coded, with the closer blue ports being used for ATA 100 drives, and the two yellow ports for ATA 133.  These are controlled by the nearby Promise 20275 controller chip.  Unfortunately, the two ATA 133 ports did not have any RAID support, a feature common on many modern boards.  As if 4 IDE ports weren't enough, as we looked in the final corner of the board, we found the Silicon Image SATAlink chip with 2 nearby SATA connections.  Once the drives are available, it could be assumed that the aspiring "do-it-yourself" upgrader would eschew the ATA 133 ports for a serial connection.  This editor, for one, can't want to get his hands on a SATA drive and give it a ride.

 

THE BIOS:

The BIOS was made of your typical fare from AWARD.  You can check the Standard CMOS features for changing the system clock, and check on what drives are identified on the IDE channels.  Going to the Advanced CMOS features, you can make sure that the CPU cache is enabled, and determine the boot order.  If you have the bootable hard drive on the ATA133 or SATA channels, make sure to choose the correct setting in Onboard Devices Load Order as shown here. Next, in the Advanced Chipset Features, you have options to change the DRAM settings.  I set up my stick of Corsair PC3000 DDR using the most aggressive timings, but was limited to using to using a DDR 200 or 266.  Even though DDR333 is not officially supported in the i845E specs, it would have been nice to unofficially allow for this.  As of this release of this article, the i845PE and i845GE have just been released, which will fully support DDR333.

     

    

There weren't too many options to use when we got to overclocking the P4ES, although this did not seem to hinder my progress too much.  On the IWILL Smart Setting screen, your only options are to enable or disable Spread Spectrum, raise the CPU clock by 1MHz intervals, enable or disable the ATA133 and SATA connectors, and step up the CPU Voltage.  You can also disable or enable the standard IDE ports, on-board audio, etc.,  and check on the voltages and fan speed on the PC Health screen.

 

Overclocking & Some Numbers

 
Tags:  Motherboard, Will, P4, board, AR

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