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Asus P3B-F i440BX Motherboard Review

Asus P3B-F i440BX Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: For the last couple of years, the industry has been seen supporting a chipset like no other. Back in mid-1998, Intel had introduced their i440BX chipset which was the designated chipset for their Pentium II line of processors. Naturally, every mainboard manufacturer wholeheartedly accepted the chipset as at the time, as there were not any other chipsets on the market that could provide the support and stability as well as the 440BX did.
 90% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Asus Apr 12 2000   P. Masrani  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Asus P3B-F

Overclocking and BIOS

The Intel 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 a frequency.

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.

BIOS

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 by SPD.

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 that?).

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 something.

Hardware Monitoring

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 -12V.

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Contents of Article: Asus P3B-F
 Pg 1.  Asus P3B-F i440BX Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  First Look and Installation
 Pg 3.  Testbed
 Pg 4.  — Overclocking and BIOS
 Pg 5.  Power Mangement and Conclusion

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