Celeron 400 CPU is clock-locked at 6x bus frequency. Needless to say, a bus
speed increase of 66MHz to 83MHz results in a pretty large 100MHz CPU clock increase.
The next step up would be to run the Celeron 400 at a 100MHz
FSB or a 600MHz CPU clock frequency. Unfortunately, with any of the boards tested here, the
system would not even initialize, let alone POSTing at this speed. This characteristic certainly isn't
of the motherboard, but rather the inability of the CPU to overclock at such
My Celeron 333 CPU did
complete POSTing and would hang at the Windows 98 splash screen when overclocked
to 100MHz. To achieve this much, I had to turn up the voltage to 2.1V. Going
beyond that didn't help at all. This is the only board that has gotten my
Celeron 333 (clocked at 500MHz) to the splash screen. Yeah, yeah, I didn't get
into Windows, but hey, each little bit does count right?
With Coppermine support, I have a strong feeling that the
Asus P3B-F can go a long ways in terms of overclocking and will aid in pushing
your CPU to its limits. Stability wise, my thoughts were verified. I ran the
Winstone 99 and Content Creation Winstone 2000 tests for about 14 hours (7 hours
each test) without a single crash while overclocked! If you feel daring enough,
Asus also provided us with some level of chipset voltage adjustment.
You can set this voltage at either 3.5V or 3.65V. A
little of bit tweaking in area could add a bit more stability to various
components dependant on this voltage.
One issue which is looked at as a
disappointed by most is the fact that the AGP divider is set at 2/3 FSB at
speeds of 133MHz and over. As we already know, most AGP devices are not at all
able to operate at a speed of 89MHz. Which brings up one other point. Though
this board does support the Coppermine CPU, it is pretty much restricted to
those Coppermine's operating at a 100MHz FSB. Again, this problem lies directly
with the AGP divider ratio and is the same problem exists for a number of BX
boards out on the market.
The Asus P3B-F supports loads of
useful features in its BIOS (Award V6.00). One of the first things that comes
to mind is the support for Asus JumperFree BIOS. JumperFree allows the user to
configure various settings such as the clock ratio, FSB speed and
provides for an option to change the CPU Vcore.
In order to make use of the
JumperFree option, all DIP switches on the motherboard MUST be set to OFF in
order to override manual configuration and have total control from the BIOS
menu. The clock multiplier can be set from 2.0x to 8.0x in increments of 0.5x
and the FSB speed option lets you select from a good number of frequencies
ranging from 66MHz all the way up to 150MHz. Another great feature useful in
overclocking is the availability of selectable voltages where you can choose
from either 2.0V, 2.05V, 2.1V, 2.2V, 2.3V and 2.4V.
To add to a greater degree
of control, SDRAM configuration parameters offer a number of different options
open to adjustment from the user. The SDRAM Configuration
option lets you change CAS Latency, RAS to CAS delay, RAS
Precharge Time and the DRAM idle timer by selecting either 7ns, 8ns or
If that doesn't satisfy you, you can set
the value as USER DEFINE which gives you the privilege making your own recipe
for tweaking memory settings. The default setting for SDRAM Configuration
is set at By SPD. SPD, or Serial Presence Detect is an EEPROM on the
memory module which stores information about the RAM such as type, size, speed,
voltage interface and module banks. For novice users, it is better to leave this
option on the default setting.
Aside from these options, your
run-of-the-mill system options are available as well (did I even have to mention
The look and feel of BIOS menus on the Asus P3B-F is completely
different from the normal screens that we are used to. After all these years of
using the same layout, navigating through the various screens become clockwork
(one could go through it blind-folded). So before you switch to this model, do
take a hard look at the number of options available. You might just skip
The Asus ASIC is responsible for
the hardware monitoring of the Asus P3B-F. Through the BIOS itself, you can see
the various temperatures, FAN speeds and voltages being monitored. What's
monitored is MB and CPU temperatures, CPU / Power Supply / Chassis fans speeds
and 6 different voltages, viz. Vcore, +3.3V, +5V, -5V, +12V and