VIA P4PB Ultra Motherboard Review

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The VIA P4PB Ultra Motherboard Review
Intent on Total System Performance for the P4

By Robert Maloney
March 19th, 2003


ZDBench Winstones
Playing with the stones

Content Creation Winstone 2002:

When it comes to multimedia application benchmarking, we think Content Creation Winstone 2002 is well suited for the job.  This program uses a series of popular multimedia based application to assess a system's abilities and issues a score. 

Below is a list of applications that Content Creation Winstone uses to come up with its rating.

  • 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)

These two tests were the most perplexing for us.  In fact, we ran and then re-ran these tests a few times, to check that the numbers were indeed correct, and they were.  For whatever reason, the VIA P4PB dropped the ball in the Winstones, placing dead last in the DDR333 tests and even lower when using DDR400.  Overclocking the system raised the score appreciably, increasing it by over 2 points.  Since these tests are somewhat hard disk sensitive, as well as memory intensive, this shortcoming would point to VIA's Southbridge performance, memory latency/bandwidth, or both.


Business Winstone 2002:

Business Winstone is a benchmark that measures a PC's overall performance when running applications that are commonly found in the everyday workstation environment. 

Some of the programs it runs to determine a Business Winstone 2002 rating are:

  • Lotus Notes® R5

  • Microsoft® FrontPage® 2002 SP-1

  • Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2002 SP-1

  • Microsoft® Excel 2002 SP-1

  • Microsoft® Access 2002 SP-1

  • Microsoft® Word 2002 SP-1

  • Microsoft® Project 2000

  • WinZip® 8.0

  • Norton AntiVirusTM from Symantec

  • Netscape® 6.2.1

The trend continued with Business Winstone 2002.  The VIA P4PB just didn't keep up with the Intel based boards, regardless of the speed of the memory used.  What was especially troublesome, was that even after we raised the FSB to 150MHz, the score we got from the VIA board did not even beat the Gigabyte board, and only slipped by the MSI board by 0.1.  It really just seems that the memory timings are not as tight as they could have been for VIA's new P4 chispet. 


Our final impressions about the VIA P4PB Ultra were that its bark seemed to be worse than the bite.  That's not to say that the board didn't necessarily perform well, on the contrary it typically placed smack dab in the middle of the two comparison Intel boards.  The only exception was during the testing with the Winstones where it really fell off of the pace.  It's just that we weren't overly excited by the performance either, especially so when using DDR400.  With the memory set at 400MHz DDR, there should be an increase in bandwidth (as was shown in our Sandra testing), but this resulted in worse performance due to the inherent latencies.  Overclocking was also limited, possibly by the lack of CPU Vcore settings, and we reached only half the speed increase of what we were able to with i845PE boards using the same exact components.  We were buoyed by the impressive bundle, which catered to enthusiasts and modders alike, but these additions came with a larger price tag, currently listing at $135, on various price search engines.  With increased competition from Intel and SIS, this board just didn't shine as much as it could have, although our feelings are that VIA is definitely on the right track.  We give the VIA P4PB Ultra a 7.5 on the HotHardware Heat Meter.


 

 

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Tags:  Motherboard, VIA, Ultra, 4P, P4, review, board, view, ULT, IE, AR

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