Upon first glance at this motherboard gives an impression that it is a bit
longer than other ATX one is used to seeing. This is probably due to the fact
that is has a massive 6 PCI slots along with 1 ISA slot giving an illusion of
longer length. For the description of the layout of this motherboard, we will be
taking the side with the integrated parallel / USB / serial ports as front. The
one thing that really catches your eye on this board (aside from the 6 PCI
slots) are the 4 DIMM slots which are located towards the back of the board just
in front of the Primary / Secondary HDD headers.
With so many slots (a total of 8), I can pretty much
guarantee that you won't see a problem when wanting to incorporate additional
add-on cards in your system. 6 PCI slots is a lot my friends. The 1 ISA slot is
there to make sure just about everyone would be comfortable when making to
transition in purchasing the P3B-F. Most cards are PCI these days, but there are
still some people out there making use out of their legacy devices.
The regular serial / parallel / USB ports / keyboard and
mouse connectors are organized in the usual ATX fashion. The cabinet headers are
placed on the far rear left side of the board which minimizes the interference
between the thinner cabinet cables and other components / cables in an enclosed
Surrounding the Slot 1 interface
are 6 1500uf capacitors along with 3 1000uf capacitors as well. Speaking of
which, the Slot 1 interface is placed towards the front of the board just behind
the ATX power connector. All-in-all, a pretty clean and straight forward board
component layout. Were there any associated problems with it? Well just a
couple. These being the placement of the blue DIP switch box and the floppy
I can't see why Asus didn't choose to at least group the HDD and FDD headers
where the HDD headers already are. Instead, the FDD header is located to the
left of the DIP switch box at a distance of only about 1 cm away.
The DIP switch itself is a
very close neighbour of the AGP slot. Both of these issues make it extremely
difficult to modify system parameters through the use of the box. Now I am sure
many people are wondering why I would use the DIP switches when the same
settings are accessible through the BIOS. Well, I then conveniently pass the
buck to Asus asking them why they ever bothered to include a DIP switch box in
the first place! Nyah! Actually, the fact that the DIP switches are there at all
automatically makes it eligible for any and all types of scrutiny! ;) Hey, back
to the issue at hand...
In short, if you still want to use the manually DIP switches (as opposed to the JumperFree BIOS), you would either
need to remove the floppy connector cable or be double jointed. Other than that,
no design related problems are evident.
Probably one of the
quickest setups till date. After a format of the hard disk and an installation
of the Windows 98 operating system, I was ready to go! However, if you decide to
run Windows 95, you will need to install the bus mastering drivers for the Intel
400BX chipset. Thankfully, I didn't spend any time installing any pesky drivers
such as graphic drivers in the case of an 810 board. I did go ahead and install
the various utilities that were included such as the Asus PC Probe which allows
real time reporting of the hardware monitoring process...