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Review: ASUS P4P800 Deluxe [i865PE] Motherboard

by Tarinder Sandhu on 21 May 2003, 00:00 4.5

Tags: ASUSTeK (TPE:2357)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qarm

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Intel's run towards 200FSB required new chipsets, new processors and validation of a new speed of memory. Ramping up the CPUs' FSB was a relatively straightforward affair and PC3200 memory was generally widespread before Intel's FSB push. It's obviously of little use to have a high FSB CPU without having a platform or two to launch it with. Intel's Granite Bay dual-channel chipset showed that DDR could compete with RAMBUS at 133FSB. What would be simpler, theoretically, than to bump up the FSB by 50% on this performance chipset ?.

Step forward the Canterwood. Intel's premier consumer motherboard arrived with dual channel DDR-400 support, PAT technology, and other nice gizmos. Retail motherboard manufacturers took the option of specifying all manner of extras with their Canterwood motherboards. With relatively high Intel chipset prices and motherboard manufacturers choosing a number of discrete controllers in the name of features, Canterwoods arrived with a rather high street price, unfortunately.

It would have been foolish for Intel to pursue 200FSB running with only one expensive chipset. The footsoldier of the Intel gang, the i845PE, had been upgraded to accept these newer CPUs. We've seen big-name manufacturers produce 200FSB-compliant i845PEs. With Canterwoods on one side of the pricing spectrum and i845PEs on the other, Intel were looking for some middle ground that would appeal to a wide cross-section of potential buyers.

Code-named Springdale, this chipset wants to bridge the pricing and performance gap between the aforementioned two. Looking like a Canterwood in disguise, it still uses a dual channel DDR-400 memory interface, a 6.4GB/s MCH, and the option of using either the ICH5 or ICH5/R Southbridges. Intel have further decided to differentiate between Springdale boards. The i865PE most closely resembles the i875P Canterwood in specification and performance. The i865P is the budget dual channel flavour with a maximum 133FSB (533 QDR) support, and lastly the i865G amalgamates supposedly upgraded on-board graphics, the Intel Extreme 2, for an all-in-one OEM solution capable of running at 200FSB.

We're looking at a full retail i865PE board today from none other than the number one motherboard manufacturer in the world, ASUStek. A quick perusal of the specification sheets informs us that its MCH (Memory Controller Hub) does without Intel's supposedly slick Performance Acceleration Technology (PAT) and RAM ECC functions. PAT should offer quicker access to and from the system RAM and MCH, so we'd expect a PAT-less MCH to be that little bit slower than that of the i875P. Other than that, it's virtually identical to its more expensive Canterwood brother. What's more, the ASUS i865PE features the ICH5/R SB, giving integrated S-ATA RAID0. The Canterwood version does without.

A cheaper board that's largely based on Canterwood technology ?, sounds good to us. Let's give it the lowdown now. I think you'll be in for a shock. Read on to find out why.