Asus P4G8X Deluxe   
 

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Dato: 21.03.2003

For tiden er E7205-brikkesettet den raskeste løsningen fra Intel for Pentium 4-plattformen. Vi har tidligere sett på et E7205-basert hovedkort fra AOpen, og nå kikker vi på et tilsvarende kort fra ASUS. Er ASUS P4G8X Deluxe noe å satse på?

Intel introduserte E7205-brikkesettet på slutten av fjoråret, som en erstattning for i850E-brikkesettet. E7205, eller "Granite Bay" som det tidligere var kjent som, markedsføres mot arbeidsstasjoner og "high-end" delen av markedet. Løsninger basert på dette brikkesettet, f.eks. tidligere testede AOpen AX4R Plus, er ikke spesielt rimelige, men tilbyr da også for tiden markedets beste ytelse for Pentium 4. Dog kun marginalt raskere enn langt rimeligere i845PE-basert løsninger. I disse tider er også SiS 655-baserte hovedkort på vei inn på markedet, som ifølge tidlige tester er enda et hakk vassere enn E7205 når det gjelder ytelse. SiS 655 brikkesettet tilbyr b.la. støtte for dobbeltkanal DDR400 minne, mens E7205 til forskjell "bare" støtter dobbeltkanal DDR266 minne.

ASUS P4G8X Deluxe er et av de dyreste hovedkortene på markedet, så lenge vi snakker om singel-CPU løsninger for Pentium 4. Kortet er spekket med funksjonalitet, men tilbyr det nok til å leve opp til den stive prisen? Vi har tatt kortet under lupen.

Takk til ASUS som sendte oss P4G8X Deluxe til test.

 

Spesifikasjoner:


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  • Brikkesett: Intel E7205 memory controller hub (nordside) og Intel 82801DB ICH4 (sørside)

  • Støtter Pentium 4 og Celeron Socket 478 prosessorer med 400/533 FSB

  • Støtter Hyper-Threading

  • Dobbelkanal DDR266 minnebuss (4.2 GB/s båndbredde)

  • Maks 4 GB minne

  • Støtter ECC-minne

  • 2x UDMA100/66/33 ATA-kanaler

  • Silicon Image 3112A Serial ATA-kontroller (2 kanaler)

  • Støtter RAID 0 eller 1 via Serial ATA-kontrolleren

  • 1x AGP Pro port (AGP 8X/4x, kun 1.5V)

  • 5x PCI porter

  • Realtek ALC650 6-kanals lydkrets

  • Broadcom Gigabit LAN nettverkskrets

  • 4x USB 2.0/1.1 porter (2 ekstra porter mulig via brakett)

  • TI TSB43AB22 FireWirekontroller, 2 x FireWire-porter

  • ATX formfaktor (30.5 x 24.5 cm)

Les mer om kortet hos ASUS.

Vi gjør oppmerksom på at minnemoduler bør installeres i par på dette kortet, slik at man kan dra nytte av den doble minnebussen. Det er absolutt å anbefale at man benytter helt identiske minnemoduler.

Kortet har ellers innebygget funksjonalitet som:

  • C.P.R. - CPU Parameter Recall: Automatisk tilbakestilling av innstillinger i BIOS ved for høy overklokking. Man slipper mao. å tukle med en jumper for å tilbakestille BIOS-en hvis man har klokket prosessoren så høyt at maskinen ikke starter opp.
  • EZ Plug: 4-pin "molex"-tilkopling for eldre kabinetter som ikke har +12V "P4-tilkopling". Dermed kan eiere av eldre kabinetter teoretisk benytte dette hovedkortet uten å bytte ut kabinett/strømforsyning.
  • Post Reporter: En stemme kan på valgfritt språk opplyse om hovedkortets "tilstand" ved oppstart. Er det noe feil på hovedkortet eller tilkoplede komponenter, vil stemmen også opplyse om dette. Man har mulighet for å legge inn sin egen eller andres stemme, ved hjelp av medfølgende Winbond Voice Editor programvare.
  • MyLogo2: Lag ditt eget BIOS-oppstartsbilde (boot-logo)
  • EZ-Flash BIOS: BIOS-en på kortet kan oppdateres direkte fra Windows-miljøet, uten bruk av DOS-baserte verktøy, boot-disketter osv.
  • Q-Fan: Q-Fan teknologien stiller automatisk turtallet på viftene i systemet i henhold til temperaturen. Slik man kan få et svært støysvakt system når man kun jobber med "enkle" oppgaver som tekstbehandling etc.
  • CrashFree BIOS: Lar deg ta sikkerhetskopi av BIOS til en diskett i tilfelle "korrupt" BIOS. Ved BIOS-krasj kan man boote opp fra denne disketten og den fungerende BIOS-en vil kopieres inn på ny.


Bundle


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ASUS P4G8X Deluxe kommer med en meget solid bundle, og det er helt tydelig at dette er en påkostet pakke. Hør bare her:

  • En fyldig og god manual
  • Quick setup guide
  • Klistremerke med oversikt over tilkoplinger etc.
  • CD med InterVideo WinCinema (WinDVD, WinRip, WinProducer)
  • Driver-CD
  • 2x Serial ATA kabler
  • 1x ATA33 kabel
  • 1x ATA66/100 kabel
  • 1x floppykabel
  • Brakett med gameport og 2x USB-tilkoplinger
  • Brakett med 2x FireWire (stor og liten tilkopling)
  • Braket med RCA SPDIF inn/ut
  • Liten pose med ekstra jumpere

Design

ASUS P4G8X har etter vår mening et ryddig og godt design. Kortet er stort, men følger ATX-standarden og bør dermed ikke være noe problem å montere i de fleste kabinetter. Noe "tukling" for å få kortet på plass kan riktignok være påkrevet, spesielt i mindre kabinetter.


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ATX-tilkoplingen er plassert ut mot kanten opp i hjørnet på kortet - bra. Tilkoplinger for IDE- og floppytilkoplinger er også plassert høyt opp på kortet, slik at de med store maxi-towere ikke får problemer med for korte kabler. Det er god plass mellom AGP- og DIMM-slottene, slik at det ikke er noe problem å ta ut og inn minnemoduler selv om skjermkortet står i. Uansett ikke noe stort poeng for de fleste, men vi noterer likevel et lite pluss i margen her.


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+12V "P4-pluggen" er plassert på en slik måte at ledningen lett kommer i konflikt med eventuelle vifter i bakkant av kabinettet. Det er fullt mulig å løse dette på en måte, men vi skulle uansett helst sett at denne tilkoplingen ble flyttet litt mer "ut av syne". F.eks. har Supermicro på sitt P4SAA i våre øyne en smart plassering av denne tilkoplingen, hvor pluggen er plassert helt ut på siden av kortet.

Kortet kommer med en AGP Pro tilkopling, slik at "proffe" 3D-grafikkort som 3DLabs Wildcat seriene o.l. kan benyttes. AGP-porten er selvsagt også kompatibel med "standard" AGP-kort.


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Nordsiden i brikkesettet kjøles av en ganske massiv kjøleribbe, heldigvis uten bruk av vifte. Slike vifter har ofte en tendens til å produsere uønsket støy, iallfall etter en tids bruk.

P4G8X mangler mulighet for å kjøre parallell ATA-enheter i RAID-oppsett. Til gjengjeld støtter kortet via Silicon Image-brikken RAID-oppsett med Serial ATA (RAID 0 eller 1).

Serial ATA kontroller
Lydkrets fra Realtek

En brikke fra Broadcom sørger for GigaBit Ethernet nettverkstøtte - bra! Realteks ALC650 brikke står for lydproduksjonen. Denne fungerer forsåvidt greit, men vi kunne godt tenke oss å se en litt mer "up to date" brikke her, f.eks. ADI 1980-brikken, som vi bl.a. finner på ASUS P4PE.


Gigabit nettverk fra Broadcom


 

Vi finner tre tilkoplinger for vifter på dette kortet, hvorav en er beregnet på CPU-kjøleren. Begge de to tilkoplingene (for f.eks. kabinettvifter) er plassert "foran" på kortet, altså på motsatt side av portene på kortet. Vi hadde gjerne sett at iallfall en av disse tilkoplingene var på samme side av kortet som portene, da det vanlige er å ha en kabinettvifte i bakkant av kabinettet. I dette tilfellet må man strekke kabelen til viften i bakkant unødvendig langt.

BIOS

P4G8X har samme type Award-BIOS som P4PE. Det vil si at man har gode muligheter for å stille inn parametre som FSB, spenninger, minneinnstillinger osv. Kort oppsummert gir BIOS-en følgende muligheter:

  • FSB i steg på 1 MHz
  • CPU-spenning (Vcore) i steg på 0.025V opp til 1.975V
  • Minnespenning: 2.5V, 2.6V og 2.7V
  • AGP-spenning: 1.5V, 1.6V og 1.7V
  • AGP-frekvenser i steg på 1 MHz
  • AGP/PCI frekvenser kan låses uavhengig av FSB
  • Ikke mulighet for å låse PCI-frekvens uavhengig av AGP
  • Minnemultiplikator er alltid 1:1 i forhold til FSB
     

Vi kommer tilbake til overklokkingsegenskapene senere i testen.

Nedenfor følger noen skjermbilder fra BIOS-en:

 


CPU-innstillinger



AGP/PCI-frekvenser



CPU-spenning



AGP-spenning




Minnespenning




Minneinnstillinger




Hardware-monitoring

 

Testoppsett

 

Konfigurasjon for test av ASUS P4G8X Deluxe
Maskinvare
Hovedkort
ASUS P4G8X Deluxe
AOpen AX4R Plus (E7205)
ASUS P4PE (i845PE)
DFI NB78-HC (i845PE)
Intel D850EMV2 (i850E)
BIOS-versjon
Prosessor
RAM
512 MB Corsair Twinx DDR400 SDRAM (2 x 256)
512 MB PC1066 RDRAM (2x256)
Skjermkort
Harddisk
45 GB IBM 7200 rpm ATA100
Programvare
Operativsystem
Windows XP Professional SP-1
Applikasjoner
3DMark 2001SE
CPUMark99
Cinebench 2000
Comanche 4
Kibribench
SiSoft Sandra 2003
Sciencemark 2.0
Unreal Tournament 2003
Wstream
Drivere
Intel Application Accelerator v2.3
Intel Chipset Utility 4.30.1006

NVIDIA Detonator 41.09
Testmetodikk: Slik tester vi


PS: Sjekk ut vår benchmark-guide for mer informasjon og nedlastning av testprogramvare.

Hovedkortet ble testet med minneinnstillingene 2-2-2-5, med et par Twinx-moduler fra Corsair. Vi har sammenlignet ytelsen med tidligere testede AX4R Plus fra AOpen, P4PE fra ASUS, et i850E-basert hovedkort fra Intel, samt DFI NB78-HC basert på i845PE-brikkesettet.

La oss først slå fast hvilken FSB-frekvens hovedkortet virkelig opererer med når FSB er satt til 133 MHz. Som vi ser av bildet nedenfor "overklokker" hovedkortet FSB-frekvensen såvidt, til 134.66 MHz. Dermed får en prosessor som i utgangspunktet skal operere på 2800 MHz, 28 MHz ekstra å rutte med. Det kan være nok til å krype såvidt foran konkurrenter som opererer med "ekte" 133 MHz FSB. Vi er ikke særlig tilhengere av slik "juksing" med den relle FSB-frekvensen, uten at det får noen konsekvenser for stabilteten.

 


Ytelse - syntetisk

De to E7205-baserte kortene kommer meget godt ut når det gjelder teoretisk minnebåndbredde i SiSoft Sandra. Det samme gjør i850E, mens de to i845PE-baserte kortene må se seg distansert.


 

I Wstream er i850E kongen på haugen, etterfulgt av de to jevngode E7205-baserte kortene.

Ytelse - applikasjonsbasert

I 3DMark2001 kommer ASUS P4G8X best ut av samtlige kort i 640x480. I 1024x768 legges det et større press på skjermkortet, og forskjellen mellom de ulike brikkesettene blir mindre. Likevel scorer P4G8X f.eks. 500 poeng mer enn i845PE-baserte DFI NB78 i 1024x768.


Ingen enorme forskjeller mellom de ulike hovedkortene i 3D-renderingmotoren Cinema4D, men dette ASUS-kortet er tydelig helt i tetsjiktet. I shading-testen kryper kortet sågar såvidt vekk fra de andre.

 

Heller ikke i Kribibench er det store forskjeller mellom de ulike kortene/brikkesettene. Vi legger likevel merke til at ASUS P4G8X er i teten i begge deltestene.


I Cipher-testen i Sciencemark 2.0 skiller det heller ikke mye mellom de ulike kortene. I Molekylar Dynamics-testen kommer derimot P4G8X såvidt best ut, såvidt foran de to i845PE-baserte kortene.

Ytelse - applikasjoner


P4G8X havner "midt på treet" i Comanche 4-testen, men forskjellene mellom de ulike hovedkortene er ikke større enn 3-4 FPS på det meste.


Ytelsen i UT2003 er upåklagelig. Jevnt over kommer ASUS P4G8X best ut her, tett etterfulgt av det E7205-baserte AOpen AX4R Plus.


"Bots"-testen drar langt mer CPU-kraft og skjermkortet spiller en mindre rolle enn i den forrige "flyby"-testen. Også her utmerker P4G8X seg, og kommer best ut i alle testene, såvidt foran AOpens E7205-baserte kort.

Overklokking

Generelt sett er i845PE-baserte kort betydelig mer overklokkingsvillige enn hovedkort basert på E7205-brikkesettet. Vi hadde likevel ingen problemer med å overklokke FSB til 152 MHz (3192 MHz CPU) som er maksimalt av hva vår Pentium 4 2.8 GHz testprosessor klarer å operere helt stabilt på.

For overklokkere vil nok et hovedkort basert på i845PE-brikkesettet være bedre egnet. Disse har gjerne en minnemultiplikator 1,33x, som tilsvarer DDR355-minnehastighet ved 133 MHz FSB, eller DDR400 ved 150 MHz FSB (f.eks. ASUS P4PE). Dessuten har tester vist at i845PE-brikkesettet gjerne er langt mer villig med tanke på FSB-overklokking enn E7205-brikkesettet. Sist men ikke minst er i845PE-baserte løsninger betydelig rimeligere, noe som ikke er uvesentlig for den gjennomsnittlige overklokkers slunke lommebok.


 



 

Ved 152 MHz FSB nærmer minnebåndbredden seg 3.7 GB/s i følge minnetesten i SiSoft Sandra.

 

Resultatet økte med omlag 500 poeng i 3DMark2001SE, 640x480. Merk at ytelsesøkningen blir mindre jo mer man øker oppløsningen.

Konklusjon

Det er ingen tvil om at ASUS P4G8X Deluxe er en svært solid løsning. Kortet er stabilt som fjell, yter meget godt og kommer med en imponerende bundle. Med en utmerket layout og god innebygget funksjonalitet som Gigabit LAN og Serial ATA, skal det mye til for å matche dette kortet.

Spørsmålet er om det er verdt å bruke opp mot 2000 kroner på et slikt hovedkort. Ønsker du det beste på markedet akkurat nå og har råd til å betale for deg, er vi ikke i tvil om at P4G8X er et godt valg. Eksempelvis kan kortet være et godt alternativ for kraftige arbeidsstasjoner, i miljøer hvor overklokking og "tweaking" og "tuning" ikke er spesielt aktuelt. Ønsker man en stabil og rask løsning uten noe "mikkmakk", er ASUS P4G8X Deluxe per dags dato et særdeles godt valg.

Kan du vente litt, er hovedkort basert på i865PE ("Springdale") og i875P ("Canterwood") rett rundt hjørnet. Disse brikkesettene tilbyr noe essensielt som ikke E7205 gjør, nemlig støtte for 800 FSB (200 MHz QDR). Intel vil lansere Pentium 4 "Northwood" med 800 FSB i løpet av våren, og etterfølgeren med "Prescott"-kjerne vil også få 800 FSB.

 

 

 

+
-

+ Ytelse i toppklassen
+ Stabilt og solid
+ Serial ATA, Firewire og USB 2.0
+ RAID-støtte for Serial ATA
+ Gigabit Ethernet
+ Svært omfattende bundle
+ Støtter ECC-minne
+ AGP Pro for arbeidsstasjoner
+ Q-Fan (støyreduksjon)
+ Grei layout
+ EZ Plug for PSU-er uten +12V

- Dyrt
- Mangler P-ATA RAID
- Ikke den beste plasseringen av ATX 12V
- (Mangler støtte for 800 FSB)
 

 


ASUS P4G8X Deluxe får terningkast (-)
 

 


 

 

 


 

Date: 24.02.2003

Here we introduce the latest p4 motherboard offering from Asus, along with the latest chipset from Intel. This would be the Asus P4G8X with Intel's Granite Bay chipset, supporting Pentium 4 with 478 pins. Asus have a strong reputation for making good solid boards, for the mainstream market. The P4G8X is practically the top of the range motherboard, awarded the 'deluxe' title from Asus, only being eclipsed by the 'gold' model which features a software bundle. This board is absolutely laden with features as we shall find out shortly...

The Intel Granite Bay chipset is entirely new, and provides support for Dual DDR as well as support for Hyperthreading, which is available on the 3.06GHz P4 and upwards. Hyperthreading is a new technology for the Pentium 4 range, which allows the cpu to process 2 threads at once - effectively like having 2 cpus! This means that when you run 2 programs at the same time, the cpu is always 100% utilised, rather than waiting for one to finish before the other can start.

In addition to Hyperthreading, this chipset enables Dual channel DDR usage - effectively doubling the bandwidth available to the P4 FSB and provides a big boost for DDR supporters. As explained in this article, P4s require more memory bandwidth than can be supplied by ddr ram at DDR266 speeds in single channel configuration. Dual DDR266 should theoreticaly provide as much bandwidth as RDRAM 1066, but as we shall see, suffers from latency issues.
In addition to the above, Intel have added support for AGP 8x, which doubles the bandwidth available to graphics cards, although makes very little difference with the cards currently available on the market.

Let's take a look at the features available on this board from Asus.

Features

CPU
  • Supports Intel Pentium 4 socket 478 processor
  • 400/533MHz system bus

    Chipset
  • Intel E7205 (Granite Bay) + Intel 82801DB ICH4
  • Supports AGP Pro/8x 1.5V
  • Supports UDMA 100/66/33

    Memory
  • Four 184-pin DIMM sockets supporting ECC/non-ECC DDR DIMMs
  • 200/266MHz DDR support up to 4GB

    SATA RAID
  • Silicon Image 3112A controller supports two Serial ATA ports
  • Supports raid 0 or raid 1

    Audio
  • Realtek ALC650
  • Supports 6 Channel CODEC for AC3 5.1 Channel purpose

    USB 2.0 and Firewire
  • 6x USB 2.0 ports
  • 2 x IEEE1394 ports

    LAN
  • BROADCOM 1000 Mbps Ethernet Controller

    Miscellaneous
  • 1 AGP slot, 5 PCI slots
  • Built-in PS/2 Keyboard and PS/2 mouse port connectors
  • CD-IN and AUX-IN headers
  • S/PDIF in/out connector
  • GAME/MIDI connector
  • Two Serial port connectors, one standard /EPP/ECP parallel port connector
  • Hardware monitoring - Including Fan speed, Voltages, System environment temperature
  • Supports STR (suspend to RAM)

    System BIOS
  • Award™ Bios
  • ASUS EZ Flash
  • Supports Plug-and-Play (PNP) and ACPI

    Board Layout

    This board from Asus seems to have a pretty sound layout. The memory banks do not interfere with the AGP slot, and the power connectors seem to be in fairly sensible places. My one annoyance is the way that the fdd and hdd connectors are all bundled together, but thats a pet hate rather than anything significant.

    Box Contents

  • One Asus P4G8X motherboard
  • One IDE cable
  • One Floppy Disk Drive cable
  • 2 x Serial ATA cable
  • 2 port IEEE1394 module
  • 2-port USB 2.0 / Game port module
  • i/o shield
  • One Asus Driver CD containing Intel chipset drivers, Asus PC Probe, PC-cillin 2002 anti-virus
  • User's Manual

    BIOS Features

    The Asus P4G8X comes with a host of overclocking features found in Asus' Award™ Bios. There are all the usual options for enabling onboard devices (sound, LAN, usb2 etc) as well as some more esoteric features.

    Probe a bit deeper and you encounter the overclocking part of the BIOS. This allows CPU FSB adjustment of up to 220MHz, more than enough for anybody! Also present are options to increase vCore by 5/10/15% and memory vDimm up to 2.7v.
    Memory timings can be set automatically and manually. With a 533fsb cpu, we can choose DDR200 or DDR266. Single or dual channel is invoked automatically depending which banks you install the ram into.

    So it certainly is packed to the rafters with features, and it looks fantastic but how well does it perform?
Benchmarks

The main focus here is to compare single channel DDR vs dual channel DDR, both using DDR266 with memory at pc2100 speeds.
All benchmarks will be done with Hyperthreading enabled, and using the most aggressive memory timings available, that is 2-5-2-2 1T. See here for explanation.

Test System

  • Intel Pentium 4 Northwood 3.06 (533fsb, HT enabled)
  • Asus P4G8X (Granite Bay)
  • 1 x Western Digital 80GB HDD 8Meg cache, 7200rpm
  • 512MB Corsair PC3200 cas 2 DDR memory (DDR400)
  • Abit Geforce3 ti200 64MB
  • Intel chipset drivers for E7205
  • nVidia Detonator 41.09 drivers


    Sisoft Sandra

    Benchmark: Sisoft Sandra

    There is quite a considerable gain in memory bandwidth by moving to dual channel DDR. This is because the Pentium 4 requires such large bandwidth, and can utilise all bandwidth that is provided.

    Of course Sandra is a purely synthetic test.

    There is an interesting decrease in floating point power (MFLOPS) on the dual channel system.


    Futuremark 3DMark 2001SE (formerly MadOnion)

    Benchmark HomePage : Futuremark

    Tests were conducted at the lower resolutions to test subsystem performance rather than graphical limitations.


    Unreal Tournament 2003 (Demo)

    Benchmark HomePage : Unrealtournament2003.com

    Using standardised settings for UT2003 demo we benched the board at low detail on all 3 maps. Once again, this is to provide emphasis on subsystem, not graphical performance.


    Commanche 4

    Benchmark HomePage : Commanche 4

    Commanche 4 is a flight sim, and depends heavily on the cpu performance. Here we can see that memory bandwidth is not an issue and no gain has been recorded by using dual channel.


    CodeCreatures

    Benchmark Homepage : codecreatures

    CodeCreatures is a DirectX 8 benchmark, and very intensive on both the subsystem and graphics.


    High End Workstation - SPECVIEWPERF 7.0

    Benchmark Homepage : Specbench

    We also included this graphical workstation benchmark, to see the performance changes dual DDR could offer when used as a graphical rendering system.


    Workstation Performance

    To determine office performance we used Business Winstone 2002 and Multimedia Content Creation Winstone 2003. These benchmarks test subsystem performance by using everyday business applications such as Microsoft Excel, Photoshop and video editing software.

Conclusions

In conclusion, Asus have produced yet another great motherboard for the current socket 478 Pentium 4. This board is packed with features, such as onboard LAN, USB2, Serial ATA, 6 channel sound, and performs as highly as any other board on the market that I have seen.

What seems to be a let-down is the performance of Dual Channel DDR (DCDDR) - it was marketed as the solution to all the bandwidth problems of single channel DDR, and a viable alternative to RDRAM. Although we don't have a review of an RDRAM board available, the marginal performance increase of DCDDR over single channel DDR is so slim, there is no way that it storms RDRAM out of the way.

It seems to me that DCDDR does very well with synthetic benchmarks, but fails to perform in real world situations. This is most likely due to a latency issue and the problem of synchronising memory access from 2 memory banks.

The real disappointment of DCDDR solutions is the price! This board retails for almost twice as much as one based upon the Intel i845E/PE chipset (single channel), and offers a only a small performance increase. That said, if money is no object, there is a performance gain to be had, and so feel free to lighten your wallet!

Having dissected the Asus P4G8X using the Granite Bay chipset, it just leaves me to say that this is certainly a step in the right direction. Intel are soon to launch the Springdale and Canterwood chipsets, which will offer asynchronous Dual Channel DDR (DDR333/400) in the quest for ever more bandwidth. It will be interesting to see how they compare with the latest offering from SiS, their 655 chipset already makes use of Dual DDR with DDR333 support.

To sum up : Good board, lots of features, marginal performance increase over single channel, high price.


 

Date: 14.01.2003

Introduction

We have heard a little about the latest Intel chipset, E7205 or Granite Bay, here at Hexus over the past couple of months. We were able to review development samples from MSI and DFI, both less well know manufacturers. Today we take a close look at one of the first full production Granite Bay motherboards to hit the high street the Asus P4G8X Deluxe. Asus are a giant in the world of motherboards so hopefully we will see this Intel chipset utilised fully.

The Granite Bay chipset is designed for use in high end workstations, computers where data needs to be transferred around the system as quickly as possible. This is particularly vital if you are working with CAD or 3D modelling. Although the Granite Bay chipset has some features that will improve performance it is probably only aimed at the high end market because the production costs are high. If and when production costs reduce the benefits offered by Granite Bay will prove useful in computers used for any task including computer gaming.

The major benefits of Granite Bay:

- Dual DDR memory – enabling a theoretical memory bandwidth of 4.2 Gigabits per second. In simple terms twice as fast as equivalent single DDR chipsets!

- Enables Hyper-threading (if you have a P4 3.06 or above)

- Supports 8xAGP

When we reviewed the DFI NB80-EA motherboard we found that its performance was just shy of the Asus P4T with its 4200 rambus memory. Lets see it the latest Asus can better the performance of the DFI.

Features and Specifications

The Board – In More Detail

At first glance the Asus P4G8X Deluxe looks very much like any other motherboard until you notice that there are four Ram slots split into groups of two. This signifies that the board has the capability of dual band DDR. Looking more closely we also see some other interesting features like a serial ATA raid controller, a Broadcom Gigabit on board network chip and a Molex power connector on the motherboard?



Asus have elected to retain a very traditional look and feel to their motherboards, no fancy coloured PCB’s and no LED status indicators. Despite its sombre appearance the board is feature packed and very well laid out making installation extremely easy.

One feature which could prove very useful is the addition of the Asus EZ-Plug. This is a Molex socket attached to the motherboard just below the ATX power connector. The plug is designed to supply additional power to the CPU in the same way as the four pin 12vATX connector supplied with modern P4 compatible PSU’s. This means that any ATX PSU can be used to power the P4G8X motherboard. We tested performance and voltage stability using the 12vATX, Molex and both connectors at the same time, finding no difference in performance. So the EZ-Plug really is a true alternative, nice one ASUS.

Asus have added Serial ATA support to the P4G8X in the guise of a Silicon Image SATA raid controller. This means that up to two SATA hard drives can be used. The SATA data headers are located at the very bottom of the motherboard providing very good access. SATA hard drives also need a specialist power connector which is not supplied with the motherboard. Serial ATA provides access to data transfer rates at ATA150 standard. As we have seen in our Seagate SATA hard drive review this can lead to excellent data write performance.

Bundle

In the Box



• The motherboard
• Driver CD with metallic case badge.
• Case backing plate.
• Additional USB and Game port plate.
• IEEE 1394 Cable.
• IEEE 1394 Firewire Plate.
• SPDIF in/out audio plate and lead.
• 2 Serial ATA data cables. (Still no SATA power leads!).
• Motherboard diagram for fixing to your case.
• The usual IDE and Floppy cables.
• Manual.
• Bundled InterVideo WinCinema Gold package.
• System hardware monitor software.

 


Getting going – Equipment

The system was setup using the following components…

Hardware
• Pentium 4 2.66Mhz Processor (133 FSB x 20 multiplier)
• Sapphire Radeon 9700 Pro (324Mhz core / 320Mhz Memory)
• Pair of 256MB sticks of Corsair XMS3500 CAS2 DDR Memory.
• 80GB Seagate ST380023AS SATA Hard Drive.
• Vapochil standard cooling system.
• Dell FS2000 21” Display using DVI connector.
• Sparkle 400W PSU
• Pioneer 16X DVD Rom



Software
• Windows XP Professional
• Intel chipset drivers
• Intel application accelerator
• DirectX 9
• ATI Catalyst 3 drivers and control panel
• Sisoft Sandra 2003
• Pifast
• HEXUS Seti benchmark
• Futuremark 3D Mark 2001 SE
• UT2003
• QuakeIII
• Serious Sam 2

Getting going – Setup

Installing and setting up the motherboard was an easy job. The components are well spaced out around the board making them easy to fit. The CPU and Ram were recognised by the bios correctly on first boot.

Entering the bios we find the standard array of functions available plus access to hardware monitoring and the Asus Q-Fan controls which enable the CPU fan speed to be controlled as the temperature changes.



The bios provides you with the ability to adjust the RAM timings with control of CAS latency, RAS to CAS delay RAS precharge delay and Active precharge delay. We were able to set the XMS3500 memory to the most aggressive settings throughout the review. Using cheaper Crucial DDR2100 sticks forced us to reduce the CAS latency to 2.5 while retaining all the other aggressive settings even when overclocked up to 180Mhz FSB.



The FSB is adjustable in 1Mhz increments going right up to 400Mhz – I can not believe the board can actually cope with a FSB of anything like 400Mhz as at even 180Mhz the Northbridge gets very hot, but it is nice to know that you can be stupid if you want to.



Voltage adjustment is also very good with vcore adjustable right up to 1.95 volts in 0.25v increments. I should point out here that the vcore voltage reported in the Windows hardware monitor was significantly higher than that selected in the Bios, for example a 1.80v bios selection reported 1.9v in the hardware monitor. With that sort of overvolting the motherboard would appear to be capable of pushing 2.05v through your Pentium 4 processor, not something that should be undertaken lightly even with freon cooling. Voltage is also adjustable for RAM, AGP and USB. DDR is adjustable between 2.5v and 2.7 which could be better as most DDR sticks will cope with slightly higher than 2.7v. AGP can be adjusted between 1.5v and 1.7v.











The combination of flexible voltages and FSB should make this board ideal for overclocking something we will see more of later in the review.

AGP and PCI can be locked independently of the front side bus. This is vital as many components like the Radeon 9700 do not like changes to the AGP bus speed.

The board is lacking in IDE raid but as we are lucky enough to have one of the first SATA drives available we added that to the SATA raid controller. The drive was detected by the raid bios and setup ready for installing windows. The SATA raid drivers were only supplied on the driver CD so we had to copy them to a floppy disk before installing windows as XP will only read additional raid drivers from a floppy disk during the install process. It is a shame Asus did not provide these drivers on floppy disk as standard.

When booting the Speech controller keeps you up-to-date with progress with a distinctly oriental sounding voice. After a while I found this very irritating and was delighted to find that it could be both disabled in the Bios or that custom messages could be recorded using the supplied software. I wonder what messages people will experience when buying a second hand Asus motherboard where the previous owner has customised it… the mind boggles.

Windows XP installed quickly and without fault. The Asus driver CD automatically runs and offers a menu of installation options. To ensure the board is configured for performance it is essential that the Intel chip set drivers and the Intel application accelerator are installed. The other drivers are for the onboard audio, Network, USB and Raid. Unfortunately the drivers for Network, USB and Raid must be installed manually from the device manager which could be confusing for someone new to Windows XP. The CD also contains some utilities including the Asus Probe hardware monitoring program, Asus update, Serial ATA Raid manager and the Winbond speech post reporter. These all installed properly although most requested a re-boot. Finally we installed the latest ATI Radeon drivers and the machine was re-started.

We discovered a couple of annoying quirks with the system when running the Radeon 9700 pro. Firstly the previously recognised fault with the Granite Bay chipset meant that the system would re-boot it’s self after about 10 minutes, this has been found with all the Granite Bay boards we have tried and is resolved by turning off ‘SmartGear’ in the advanced display adapter menu. Secondly and unique to the P4G we experienced a cold boot graphics problem that we were unable to resolve. When using the DVI monitor connector and booting the P4G from cold the display did not activate until the windows drivers had started. This means that you can not see the dos boot screens nor the bios. Once Windows has started the display comes to life and performs as normal. The problem only occurred with the DVI connector and was fine using VGA, when the motherboard was re-booted the normal service was restored and the boot up screens displayed normally.

Overclocking

The P4 processor is so willing to be overclocked that we could not resist seeing how far we could push the performance of the Asus P4G8X motherboard. On paper its potential for a good overclock was high; the main reservation in our minds was caused by memories of how badly the Asus P4T Rambus motherboard coped with increased FSB and voltage. Would this board be similarly restricted?

We had already found that the Granite Bay chipset has the potential to overclock well from our review of the DFI NB80. The Asus P4G has the additional benefit of adjustable voltage and because of this we were not disappointed.

We were able to push the P4G right up to a FSB of 185Mhz using a vcore of 1.85v, pushing our humble P4 2.66 processor to the dizzy heights of 3700Mhz. This performance was only possible with aid of the Vapochil cooling system and was not very stable. Reducing the FSB to 180Mhz gave us a very stable system and still pushed the P4 2.66 to 3600Mhz. The best we were able to achieve from the DFI motherboard was 172Mhz FSB and remain stable. Even air cooled the P4G is quite capable of pushing the processor to 170Mhz plus.



Even at 180Mhz FSB we did not need to reduce the ram timings. Although vcore is fully adjustable up to 1.95 volts in the bios, we found that the Asus P4G8X suffers from considerable overvolting. With the bios set to 1.8v the CPU is actually working with 1.92 volts true, according to the Asus hardware monitor in windows. With a 0.12v overvolt it is possible to push circa 2.07 volts through your processor. Although high vcore is not recommended as it could damage the processor through heat or electromigration, for an overclocker with freon cooling it is wonderful to find a motherboard with this flexibility as standard. Please bear in mind the risks associated with increasing the vcore voltage and take great care.
Testing

It is all very well producing theoretical tests to demonstrate performance. What is more important is the way that the performance makes a difference to real tasks. The Granite Bay chipset should find itself used either as a high end workstation being utilised for CAD or 3D modelling or as an extreme gaming machine.

The Asus P4G8X as a component board is certain to be mainly used in the gaming arena, so our tests are focused on that.

The benchmarks were all carried out using the same core components and each test was run twice to ensure accuracy. All graphics tests were run at 1024x768 32bit colour resolution.

As a comparison the test were run on both the Asus P4G8X and the DFI NB80 at stock speed (133FSB). If you wish to analyse the results against none Granite Bay chipsets then comparing the results to our DFI NB80 review here – insert link to the DFI review in a new window - will give you a clue. Please remember that the other results were obtained using a different processor and setup.

The tests were run at stock speed and then again with the board overclocked to 180FSB so that you can see the true potential of the board.

Benchmarks

Sandra

Although only theoretical tests the Sandra benchmarks provide a way of comparing basic performance. Rather than displaying numerous screen shots here the graphs show the resultant scores. Running the benchmark on you own machine you will be able to compare our results with your own system and the Sandra provided benchmarks for other equipment.















We can see that the P4G8X produces slightly better results than the DFI motherboard; this is a trend that continues throughout the other tests. If you apply the improvement to the results we achieved when comparing the DFI motherboard to the Asus P4T with 4200 Rambus the two boards will be almost identical. Theoretically it seems the P4G8X is a real match for the P4T, that is until the boards are overclocked, and then the P4G8X wipes the floor with the P4T!

SATA is still in its infancy, but is interesting to note that hard drive performance seemed to reduce on the P4G8X as the board was overclocked. The SATA controller although linked to the PCI bus, which was locked at 33Mhz in the bios did not seem to cope very well with the changes. The DFI board with its non raid SATA connection was better than the Asus.
 

3D Mark 2001SE



3D mark showed a similar picture to the Sandra tests, with the P4G8X producing some very good results. Although not shown here running the benchmark with the Radeon 9700 overclocked to 370Mhz Core and 330Mhz Ram and with the drivers set for high performance we achieved a score of 18,096 which is breathtaking.

PC Mark 2002



There was very little between the two motherboards in this test. The only factor being the memory score which was 1.5% quicker on the P4G8X.

PiFast and Seti



The performance of the P4G8X was markedly higher than the DFI NB80 in the Seti benchmark, taking 12 minutes off the time taken to run a WU.

UT2003




UT2003 and the Asus P4G8X seem very well suited with performance well ahead of the DFI motherboard. The most striking improvements were seen in the ‘BotMatch’ benchmark which is the closest to playing the game. Both boards play UT2003 very well indeed even at 1600x1200 with all the details set to their highest quality. Clearly the memory bandwidth does make a difference in real applications.

Serious Sam 2



Serious Sam 2 was tested using the ‘Valley of the Jaguar’ demo which at 1024x768 is hard work for any machine. The P4G8X proved up to the challenge with some very respectable scores. More importantly the game was extremely playable showing no signs of juddering.

Quake III



Here we see some good high frame rates as you would expect even at 1024x768. The test was carried out using the standard demo001 from the Quake III install disk. Bucking the general trend the DFI board showed that it will not yield to the P4G8X lightly. Why it’s better in Quake when it is worse everywhere else I do not know, but the benchmark was run twice with basically the same results.

Summary Conclusion

Asus have created a real winner with the P4G8X motherboard. The issues surrounding the P4T and its ability to run at high front side bus speeds are but a distant memory because the P4G8X copes extremely well with what ever you throw at it.

As ever the board is of the highest quality and the Deluxe model tested was packed with features. The only feature missing is IDE raid which would have made the board complete.

Most of the Asus special features are useful. The Bios’s ability to recover from over enthusiastic overclocking was excellent.

Although the board is expensive at circa £170 in the UK it still represents excellent value if you are looking for a high specification, ultra performance board for your system. Although we tested the board with expensive DDR3500 Ram, which is totally over the top, the board works equally well with DDR2100 memory which can be purchased very cheaply indeed. An Asus P4G8X with a pair of matching 256MB DDR2100 sticks should cost in the region of £250, compared to the P4T with 512MB 4200 Rimms at circa £230 or the Abit IT7 MaxII with 512MB DDR3500 ram at circa £300.

Bios control of the Asus P4G8X is excellent with a multitude of adjustments available. 400FSB capability is a bit over the top, but the vcore and vdimm adjustments are perfect for overclocking enthusiasts.

In summary the Asus P4G8X Deluxe is a wonderful motherboard which I would highly recommend. With a good Pentium 4 processor its ability to overclock is exceptional.

Pros.

• Packed with features.
• Very good overclocking ability.
• Very fast.
• High quality.
• Very reliable.


Cons.

• Expensive – until you add the cost of memory
• Poor availability



ASUS P4G8X Deluxe (E7205) motherboard

Date: 20.11.2002

The Specifications


There are two versions to the ASUS P4G8X, one which is a more feature packed Deluxe edition (which is the one reviewed here) and there's another that comes with lesser built-in peripherals. Obviously, if you need a feature packed product like the P4G8X Deluxe, you'd better prepare to spend more on the board.

Here's a list of things that you'll be getting with the motherboard :-

  • The P4G8X motherboard
  • Driver CD
  • ASUS 2-port USB 2.0 module
  • ASUS S/PDIF module
  • ASUS 2-port IEEE 1394 module
  • 10-to-6 pin 1394 cable
  • SATA cables (2 pieces)
  • 80-conductor IDE cable
  • 40-conductor IDE cable
  • Ribbon cable for 3.5-inch floppy drive
  • I/O shield
  • Bag of extra jumpers
  • User guide
  • Quick Setup Guide
  • Jumpers and connectors sticker
  • InterVideo WinCinema (comprises of WinDVD, WinCoder, WinRip and WinProducer)

    The technical specifications of the board is as below:-

    ASUS P4G8X Deluxe Technical Specifications
    Processor
    • Socket 478 for Intel® Pentium 4 processors
    • Intel® Pentium 4 Processors 1.4GHz-3.06GHz or higher
    • Supports 400MHz and 533MHz FSB CPUs
    • Supports processors with Hyper-Threading technology
    Chipset
    • Intel E7205 MCH
      • Supports DDR266 memory (PC2100)
      • Dual channel DDR266 memory support (single channel is also supported)
      • AGP 2.0 support at 1x/2x/4x (1.5V swing) data transfer rate
      • AGP 3.0 support at 4x/8x (0.8V swing) data transfer rate
      • 8-bit, 66MHz (266MT/s) 4x hub interface to the Intel ICH4
    • Intel ICH4
      • AC'97 2.2 interface
      • Six USB 2.0/1.1 ports (3 UHCI Host controllers and 1 EHCI Host controller)
      • 2 channel Ultra ATA/100 bus master IDE controller
      • PCI Master 2.2
      • I/O APIC
      • FWH interface
      • LPC interface
      • PCI 2.2 interface
      • Integrated system management controller
    Cache memory
    • CPU Built-in 256KB (Willamette) or 512KB (Northwood) L2 cache
    System memory
    • 4 x 184-pin DDR266/200 DIMM slots
    • Supports 64, 128, 256, 512MB or 1GB DIMM
    • Supports up to 4GB of unbuffered ECC or non-ECC memory
    Storage Interface
    • 2 x bus master UDMA-33/66/100 IDE ports (up to 4 devices)
      • Support for PIO, UDMA-33, UDMA-66, UDMA-100 IDE devices
    • 2 x serial ATA ports based on Silicon Image Sil3112A Serial ATA/RAID controller
    I/O Interface
    • 1 x floppy port (360KB - 2.88MB)
    • 2 x serial port
    • 1 x parallel port (SPP/EPP/ECP)
    • PS/2 Keyboard
    • PS/2 Mouse
    • 4 x USB 2.0 ports (2 x front USB 2.0 ports from on-board header)
    • Audio ports for on-board sound (Line-Out, Line-In, Mic)
    • 1 x Game port header on-board
    • 1 x RJ-45 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet LAN port
    • 2 x IEEE-1394 headers
    • 1 x IR header
    • 1 x S/PDIF header
    Expansion slots
    • 4 x 32-bit PCI slots, PCI 2.2 compliant
    • 1 x ASUS BlueMagic PCI slot (also PCI 2.2 compliant)
    • 1 x 1.5V / 0.8V AGP (1x/2x/4x/8x mode) slot
    Power Management
    • Supports ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface)
    • Supports Desktop Management Interface 2.0 (DMI)
    • WOL by PME
    • WOR by PME
    Form Factor
    • ATX Form Factor : 12" x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.5cm)
    • Fits into regular ATX case
    BIOS
    • 4Mbit (512KB) Flash ROM
    • Award Flash BIOS with PnP, ACPI, DMI2.0, TCAV, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, Multi-language, ASUS EZ Flash, ASUS MyLogo2, CrashFree BIOS, C.P.R.
    • Multi-boot on ZIP, ATAPI CD-ROM, SCSI, IDE #1, #2, #3, #4

     

    bluemagic_pci.jpg
    There are five PCI slots on this board. The blue PCI slot supports future ASUS proprietary BlueMagic PCI cards. However, it is still PCI 2.2 compliant.

    The Things We Like


    There's a lot of things to like about this board. The product is feature packed and brimming with all the stuff that you need to get a powerful system up and running at an instant. ASUS have kept all their popular on-board features such as POST Reporter (speech diagnostic), MyLogo2 (customizable boot logos), EZ Plug (provides a standard Molex connector for power supplies without the 12V connector) and Q-Fan technology (smart adjustment of fan according to system temperature). New feature such as the CrashFree BIOS will eliminate the need for a second BIOS ROM as the board will let you restore the BIOS from a floppy disk if the codes and data are corrupted for some reason.

     

    post_reporter.jpg
    These two chips will tell you in a sweet audible voice if there's something not normal about your setup.


     

    ez_plug.jpg
    The ASUS EZ Plug lets you use older power supplies without the special ATX12V connector.


    On the P4G8X Deluxe, you'll find a Broadcom BCM5702 Gigabit Ethernet controller. Gigabit Ethernet is fast becoming a mainstream networking solution and will be a standard feature in most motherboards very soon. Of course, if you'd prefer something less powerful, you can go for the bare version and get a Fast Ethernet solution (also from Broadcom).

     

    bcm5702.jpg
    ASUS chose to use the Broadcom BCM5702 Gigabit Ethernet one-chip controller instead of Intel's Gigabit solution.


    Also, there's an IEEE-1394 Firewire controller built on-board the P4G8X Deluxe. Supported by the Texas Instruments TSB43AB22 chip, it is a 1394a Link Layer Controller integrated with a 2-port Physical Layer (PHY). The on-board 1394 controller is a perfect companion for those who wants a high-speed interface for external storage or those into digital video editing. The package also comes with a module that gives you two choices of connectors - one based on the standard 6-pin connector and another is a mini-DV plug. ASUS also bundled the InterVideo WinCinema suite of software for this purpose. The bundling here is excellent.

     

    ti_1394.jpg
    The P4G8X uses Texas Instruments' IEEE-1394 FireWire solution. A much better choice than VIA's VT6306.


     

    1394_module.jpg
    The IEEE-1394 module comes with a standard 6-pin connector and a mini-DV plug.


     

    wincinema.jpg
    The Deluxe version comes with a 4-in-1 InterVideo WinCinema software package that comes with WinDVD, WinRip, WinCoder, WinProducer.


    Since the ICH4 supports six USB 2.0 ports, ASUS has made all of them available. Four of these ports are found at the rear I/O panel while two of them are available on-board through the given header. There's a USB 2.0 module which you can use to add another two USB ports. It's good to have the choice to add extra USB 2.0 ports although we doubt many would need all six ports.

     

    usb2_module.jpg
    A USB 2.0 module is bundled in the package in case you need another two USB 2.0 ports. Doubt you'll ever use this but it does come in handy when the need arises.


     

    io_panel.jpg
    The I/O panel at the rear end of the motherboard is pretty standard. However, you'll still need the bundled I/O shield to be used with most casings.

    More Features


    Since the day AGP was introduced, it has gone through a couple of revisions. As much as manufacturers would like to keep the AGP standard backward compatible, the specifications do not allow them and as such, chipsets would normally not support all these different specifications. Therefore, there's a need to ensure that users do not insert the wrong AGP cards and cause damage to either the system or the card. What ASUS did was to place an AGP detection system so that it knows if you've plugged in an AGP 3.3V or 1.5V card. If you've plugged in a 3.3V card, the AGP warning LED will light up and prevent you from booting up. Certainly a very useful feature to have.

     

    agp_warn.jpg
    The AGP warning LED tells you if you've inserted an unsupported card. This feature prevents damage to both the motherboard and the graphics card.


    Although Serial ATA drives are not in the market yet, you'll find a Serial ATA/RAID controller on the P4G8X. Certainly giving users good upgradability, the Serial ATA/RAID is based on the Silicon Image Sil3112A controller. Supporting only two ports, you can perform either RAID 0 or 1 on two Serial ATA drives.

     

    satalink.jpg
    You'll find a Silicon Image Sil3112A Serial ATA RAID controller built on-board the P4G8X Deluxe.


     

    sata_cable.jpg
    Two pieces of Serial ATA cables are bundled with this board.


    Audio is also built into the board using Realtek's ALC650 AC'97 codec. The ALC650 supports up to six channels of audio and is one of the more popular software codecs around. You can enable the extra channels through the audio driver and it will turn the Line Out and Mic In jacks into rear, subwoofer and center analog outputs. You'll also find an S/PDIF header that lets your record and playback digital signals.

     

    alc650.jpg
    The ALC650 AC'97 codec supports up to 5.1-channels of audio.


     

    spdif_module.jpg
    The S/PDIF module comes with two gold coaxial connectors for digital input and output.


    Overclockers will find the P4G8X very attractive especially with its wide overclocking options available. The biggest surprise is that the new P4G8X Deluxe will support a system bus setting of up to 400MHz. That's really something and we've never seen system bus settings with that kind of range before. The clock generator used here is based on the ICS 950224.

     

    clkgen.jpg
    The ICS950224 clock generator used on the ASUS P4G8X lets you overclock your sytsem bus to a whopping 400MHz.


    Here's a summary of what overclocking options are available on the P4G8X Deluxe :-

    • System bus settings - 100 to 340MHz (at 1MHz steps), 350 to 400MHz (at 10MHz steps)
    • AGP clock settings - 66.6 to 104.6MHz (In 0.6MHz steps)
    • CPU core voltage settings - 1.525 to 1.975V (in 25mV steps)
    • AGP voltage settings - 1.5, 1.6 and 1.7V
    • DDR voltage settings - 2.5, 2.6 and 2.7V

      As you can see, the ASUS P4G8X is definitely an overclocker's dream board. Lots of settings are available at your fingertips for manipulation. Perhaps this would give you the ultimate edge in overclocking the system.

      With so many on-board devices, we just have to load the board up with as many PCI devices as we could. We proceeded to fill up the board with five different PCI cards (on top of what is already offered on-board) and installed the drivers for each of them. To our expectations, the board had no problem handling these PCI cards and on-board devices at the same time. There were not a single conflict and everything was installed at the first attempt. We then tested the board's stability by running a couple of benchmarks to see if it completes smoothly. Again, the P4G8X passed the stability test with flying colors.

       

      device-manager.gif
      We installed up to eight PCI devices and the system had no problems handling them all at once. Stability at full load was exceptionally good.




      Things We Didn't Like


      There's really nothing to dislike about the board as it's very feature packed. What you dreamed of getting in a motherboard is available on the P4G8X. This is highly irregular but we just couldn't come up with anything for this section. So, I guess we'll just leave this as it is.

       

    Results - SYSmark 2002


    We tested the ASUS P4G8X Deluxe with two pieces of 256MB DDR333 Kingston memory modules. We installed a Pentium 4 2.8GHz processor on the board and loaded it up with an NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600 AGP card. We then compared the results with the Intel 850E and Intel 845PE to see where the Granite Bay's performance stand.

    In SYSmark 2002, we can see that the P4G8X is performing a tad faster than the Intel 850E. This is indeed good news as the Granite Bay is able to give you performance that's equivalent with an RDRAM-based solution.

     

    sm2002-overall.gif


     

    sm2002-op.gif


     

    sm2002-icc.gif

    Results - Winstone & SPECViewPerf


    With Content Creation Winstone 2002, the Intel 850E is running at about the same speed as the P4G8X. You can tell that the dual channel DDR266 memory is bringing the Pentium 4 to speeds once achievable only by PC1066 RDRAM.

     

    ccws2002.gif


    With SPECViewPerf, we can see that the P4G8X is running in between the 850E and 845PE. In this benchmark, you can tell that the memory bandwidth offered by the dual channel DDR266 is still not as fast as the dual channel PC1066 RDRAM. Although both offer the same theoretical bandwidth of about 4.2GB/s, the 850E is still a tad faster, as shown with this benchmark.

     

    specviewperf.gif


    Similarly, Business Winstone 2001 favored the 850E while the E7205 score places it in the same league with the 845PE. This is not surprising as we know that Business Winstone 2001 is always a little more sensitive to memory bandwidth/speed.

     

    bw2001.gif

    Results - 3DMark 2001SE


    We then tested 3D gaming performance with MadOnion's 3DMark 2001SE. Here's what we got :-

     

    3dm2001se-800x600.gif


     

    3dm2001se-1024x768.gif


     

    3dm2001se-1280x1024.gif


     

    3dm2001se-1600x1200.gif


    Gaming performance depends very much on the memory bandwidth and we can see where the P4G8X stands. Unfortunately, it is still not as fast as the 850E.

    Results - Other Games


    Similarly with Jedi Knight II and Unreal Tournament 2003, the performance of the P4G8X is slightly lower than the Intel 850E. Compared with the 845PE, the Granite Bay is still the best Intel DDR chipset for gaming.

     

    jk2.gif


     

    ut2003.gif

     

    Conclusion


    The new ASUS P4G8X is indeed a very feature packed product based on Intel's latest workstation chipset known as the Granite Bay (E7205). The board is just packed with on-board features ranging from the latest Gigabit Ethernet to Serial ATA RAID. It's a dream board that comes with all the stuff you'll ever need to build a rather powerful system based on just DDR266 memory.

    In terms of performance, you can expect pretty speedy performance that's comparable with the Intel 850E chipset. Although the memory bandwidth offered by the Granite Bay is about the same as the 850E, it seems that RDRAM still has the edge in performance, be it for gaming, graphics or office applications. Still, you can expect a lot of cost savings by using just plain DDR266 memory modules since the prices of DDR memory is now very affordable. Paying more for PC1066 RDRAM may no longer justify for the kind of performance you're getting. With the new Granite Bay, the 850E may soon reach the end of its useful lifespan.

     

    the_mobo.jpg


    For overclockers, the ASUS P4G8X Deluxe is another dream come true as it comes packed with a lot of tweaking options. A noteworthy feature is the system bus selection which allows one to overclock the board all the way to 400MHz. That's about the highest bus frequency we've ever encountered. For extreme overclockers, if you can get the system bus running at 400MHz, the processor will get quad-pumped to 1.6GHz front side bus. Now, we know that's pretty impossible but there's no harm dreaming about it, right?.

    Overall, the P4G8X Deluxe is a perfect board for both the power user and extreme overclocker. It comes with just the right balance of features and on-board peripherals that helped make this board very desirable. We tried our best to find flaws with this product, but we couldn't come up with anything serious. What can we say? We're just totally speechless this time around. ASUS has done a wonderful job with this board and we cannot deny them our full five-star award. Well done, guys!

     

Test System configuration
CPU  

Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz

Mainboard  

ASUS P4G8X Deluxe

Memory  

2 x 256MB DDR333 Kingston

Harddisk  

IBM DTLA-307020

Video Card  

MSI G4Ti4600-VTD

Operating System  

Windows XP Professional


ASUS P4G8X Review

Date: 07.01.2003

Introduction


Intel began supporting Rambus’ RDRAM technology with the release of its i820 chipset. Unfortunately, the Pentium III wasn’t able to utilize the memory bandwidth afforded by the new memory technology, resulting in mediocre performance gains. Further, RDRAM was significantly more expensive than SDRAM memory, and so the i815 chipset became the Pentium III favorite.

The Pentium 4 is able to take advantage of RDRAM, though, and as a result, the i850/i850E has enjoyed a long, successful life despite the negative stigma many hardware enthusiasts associate with RDRAM. However, the market has called out for DDR memory, and at long last Intel has been pressured to listen.

AMD, on the other hand, has used DDR memory since showcasing its 760 chipset. The Athon’s front side bus, operating at 133MHz DDR functioned ideally with PC2100 DDR RAM. But considering the resources dedicated to Rambus’ technology, Intel was a lot less enthusiastic about making the transition to DDR. Of course it inevitably happened with the i845 chipset, though the RDRAM-equipped i850E maintained a performance edge. Intel’s own i845PE isn’t even able to offer the 4.2GB per second of memory bandwidth that two channels of PC1066 memory provide.

The prospective i850E replacement comes in combining two, 64-bit channels of DDR memory. At 133MHz DDR, a dual channel solution is capable of the same theoretical 4.2GB per second that we’ve already seen from i850E, matching the processor’s own 533MHz bus. Intel has implemented such a design, hoping to maximize performance. Knowing full-well that the Pentium 4 shines its brightest on a platform with bandwidth to spare, we’ve been anticipating Intel’s E7205 Granite Bay chipset for some time. And not because we’re in a hurry to see the venerable i850E disappear, but because Granite Bay has the potential to be even faster, all the while offering AGP 8x compliance and Hyper Threading support.


ASUS P4G8X motherboard


ASUS’ incarnation of Granite Bay comes in the form of the P4G8X Deluxe – a fully featured board that sports a hefty $260 price tag. A simpler P4G8X is also available for around $230 online.

Board Analysis


ASUS P4G8X – The Board


Granite Bay is an expensive chipset, and as a result has been classified as workstation-only by Intel. It officially supports PC2100 DDR memory, so at first glance it doesn’t appear to be bleeding edge like competing chipsets that claim PC3200 support, but then again, it only needs enough bandwidth to match the processor’s throughput. Granite Bay can accommodate up to 4GB of memory, which contributes to its workstation-centric typecast. ASUS’ P4G8X consequently features four memory slots that are split into pairs. Technically, the board does support a single-channel DDR configuration, but in the interest of performance, you’d probably want to occupy both channels. Running a dual-channel configuration has a few stipulations, though.

First, both modules must be identical in type and size (though not necessarily brand). Double-sided x16 DDR DIMMs are not supported and neither is a three-DIMM configuration. The third module would simply be ignored in dual-channel mode. ASUS has done a good job at spacing the DIMM slots on the P4G8X so that they can be opened even with an AGP card installed, making memory upgrades straightforward.


Plenty of space on upper half of board


P4G8X back panel


In the box - tons of accessories!


We’ve come to expect ASUS to take care in its board layout. That is to say, the 20-pin ATX power connector is strategically placed to avoid blocking airflow around the Socket 478 interface. The 4-pin EZ Plug connector, which takes the place of the 12V auxiliary power connector, is also well-placed. We had no problems using Intel’s reference heat sink and even larger designs should fit without a problem, as four 3300 microfarad capacitors are the only components near the processor interface. Power comes courtesy of a two-phase solution and Intersil’s HIP6302CB controller.

The board’s back panel sports the usual PS/2, parallel and serial connectors, in addition to four USB ports, three 1/8” audio mini-jacks and an RJ 45-connector that is powered by Broadcom’s Gigabit controller. Of course, most homes won’t be able to take advantage of the advanced Ethernet option, but again, the board lends itself to a workstation environment. The onboard audio is similarly designed. Realtek’s 18-bit ALC650 provides six-channel audio output, even if it is only from a codec rather than a hardware audio processor. Digital audio input and output is enabled through an onboard header that houses two coaxial plugs.


Socket interface on the motherboard


Silicon Image Serial ATA controller


Ethernet controller


Many manufacturers are still providing parallel IDE RAID through a HighPoint or Promise chip. ASUS is looking to the future, though, by using a Silicon Image Sil3112A Serial ATA RAID controller. We still haven’t seen widespread availability of the necessary S-ATA hard drives, but it is really only a matter of time. Texas Instruments provides IEEE 1394 Firewire support with the TSB43AB22 controller and the P4S8X Deluxe includes a header with two Firewire ports. Since the E7205 MCH is complimented by the ICH4, the chipset has native USB 2.0 support. As mentioned, four of the ports are available on the board’s back panel and the other two are accessible through yet another header.


PCI slots and BlueMagic slot


Finally, ASUS’ P4G8X offers a single AGP 8x slot and five PCI 2.2 expansion slots. ASUS refers to the fifth slot as BlueMagic, named for its color. According to the P4G8X manual, the slot supports future ASUS function cards. Markings below the slot suggest a possible wireless card.

BIOS and Overclocking


BIOS


Seeing as the P4G8X isn’t being marketed as an enthusiast board, we weren’t expecting much in the way of customization within its BIOS. Nevertheless, ASUS has enabled what we’d consider to be vital BIOS functions. In the ‘Advanced’ screen, front side bus settings are available between 100MHz and an astonishing 400MHz. The PCI and AGP busses can be locked down at 33 and 66MHz respectively to avoid taxing components on an overclocked platform. A slew of voltage modifications are also selectable, including: 1.55-1.7V AGP, 2.5-2.7V DDR, and 1.55-1.975V processor voltage.


Adjusting CPU parameters


Plenty of settings for tweaking memory timings


I/O Device Configuration Menu


The ‘Chip Configuration’ sub-menu allows the adjustment of more specific memory timings – standard ASUS fare. We were actually able to run our board perfectly stable with aggressive CAS 1.5 latency settings. Next, the ‘I/O Device Configuration’ page provides switches to enable or disable serial and parallel ports, as well as the onboard audio. Finally, the ‘PCI Configuration’ page can be used to turn the integrated LAN, IEEE 1394 and Serial ATA devices on or off.


Assigning IRQs to PCI slots


Hardware monitoring


BIOS Power Menu settings


The only other interesting property sheet is the hardware monitor that monitors three temperatures, three fan speeds, and relevant voltages. It also hosts the Q-Fan feature, which adjusts fan speeds according to system loading for quieter operation.

Overclocking


The P4G8X offers plenty of overclocking potential, to be sure. Using incremental front side bus adjustments, we managed a 153MHz front side bus effectively running at 612MHz. The result was 3.52GHz from our 3.06GHz processor operating at 1.7V. We also ran 1.7V AGP and 2.7V DDR in order to run our memory at the same CAS 1.5 setting used for our other benchmarks.

System Setup


System Setup


Intel Pentium 4 3.06GHz (Hyper Threading enabled)

ASUS P4G8X Deluxe E7205 Motherboard
ASUS P4PE i845PE Motherboard
ASUS P4T533-C i850E Motherboard

512MB Corsair XMS3200 CAS2 Memory
512MB Samsung PC1066 RDRAM

ATI RADEON 9700 Pro 128MB
Catalyst 2.4

30GB IBM Deskstar DTLA 307030 ATA-100 Hard Drive

Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 1

DirectX 8.1

Desktop resolution 1024x768, 32-bit color, 75Hz refresh

All power saving options were turned off, as were the Automatic Update and System Restore services. Graphics options under the ‘Performance’ tab were all disabled for maximum performance.

Benchmarks


Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo
3D Mark 2001 Second Edition Build 330 – 32-bit color
Quake III: Arena version 1.17 ‘Demo001’ demo
Serious Sam: The Second Encounter – 32-bit color, Elephant Atrium demo
Comanche 4
SiSoft Sandra 2003 Memory Bandwidth Benchmark

Lab Notes


The P4G8X ran flawlessly with CAS 1.5 memory timings, so we used those for our benchmark results. The P4PE ran CAS 2.0 timings and the P4T533-C ran in RDRAM 4x mode. All relevant boards also ran in Turbo mode. Graphics apertures were set at 128MB.

3D Mark 2001 SE


3D Mark 2001 SE v.330 – DirectX 8






Notes


The P4G8X reigns in all three resolutions. At 800x600 and 1024x768, the P4T533-C takes second spot, but the P4PE claims that spot at 1280x1024. Overclocked, the “Granite Bay” board’s victory is even more pronounced, though the results don’t seem to scale with processor performance as we might expect from a platform with nearly 4.9GB per second of bandwidth.

3D Mark 2001 SE – Frame Rates


3DMark 2001 - Car Chase




3DMark 2001 - Dragothic



3DMark 2001 - Lobby



3DMark 2001 - Nature


Serious Sam SE


Serious Sam SE (Elephant Atrium) – OpenGL







Notes


This time around the P4T533-T rules the scene, at least until 1600x1200, where performance drops off enough to let the P4PE take the lead. The P4G8X is simply the lowest performing platform in the bunch. Further, at low resolutions, overclocking buys a noticeable performance gain, but that same gain shrinks and then disappears at higher resolutions.

Quake III: Arena


Quake III v.1.17 Demo001 – OpenGL







Notes


Both DDR platforms perform nearly identically in Quake III. That is to say, at low resolutions they are both bested by the i850E platform. At 1280x1024 and above, The E7205 and i845PE boards take the lead. And again, overclocking is unable to yield a significant performance gain for the P4G8X.

Comanche 4


Comanche 4 – DirectX 8







Notes


The RDRAM-equipped P4T533-C again establishes presence with impressive Comanche 4 scores. As a flight simulator, the Comanche 4 demo has proven to be fairly dependant on processor performance so it is no surprise that the overclocked P4G8X running with a 3.5GHz Pentium 4 is able to post impressive numbers, even though it is consistently beaten in its stock configuration.

Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo


Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby – DirectX 8







Unreal Tournament 2003 Botmatch – DirectX 8







Notes


ASUS’ P4G8X winds up with a first place finish for the first time, edging out both the i845PE and i850E platforms. Overclocking is easiest seen in the botmatch sequence, where processor performance is more heavily emphasized, as opposed to the flyby demo.

SiSoft Sandra 2003 Memory Bandwidth


SiSoft Sandra 2003 Memory Bandwidth





Notes


We all know that the i850E is capable of performing very well in memory bandwidth benchmarks. Sandra 2003 shows the P4T533-C transferring more than 3.3GB per second of data. In comparison, the P4PE running with PC2700 DDR memory nearly hits the 2.8GB per second mark – odd considering that the chipset is theoretically capable of 2.7GB, and theoretical numbers rarely represent real-world performance. The P4G8X peaks at 3.4GB per second of throughput. Even better, the overclocked platform demonstrated an impressive 3.7GB per second of memory bandwidth!

Ballistics Report


Pros:


Completeness Let it never be said that the P4G8X Deluxe is a board that lacks features. Dual-channel DDR memory (with a 4GB ceiling), USB 2.0, IEEE 1394, Serial ATA RAID, AGP 8x, Gigabit Ethernet, and integrated audio – it’s all there. I’ll concede that you certainly pay for the robust feature set, but if you’ve got an MP3 player, digital video camera and high-speed network, you’re already on your way to utilizing a few of the board’s included features.

Performance: Expectations commonly lead to disappointment – just remember back to when you learned Santa Claus was little more than a fictitious fantasy. Considering how well the i845PE competes with Intel’s flagship i850E, we had hoped that a dual-channel solution would leave both products inhaling dust. While this isn’t the case, “Granite Bay” is still undeniably fast, and performance remains a positive characteristic of the P4G8X.

Stability: The E7205 chipset is classified by Intel as a workstation component. As such, the platform as a whole is incredibly stable, even with aggressive memory timings and an overclocked front side bus. We did experience an incompatibility with our engineering sample RADEON 9700 Pro, but our Sapphire RADEON 9700 Atlantis Pro Ultimate performed just fine.

Overclocking: The P4G8X is an impressive overclocker, even if we didn’t see phenomenal gains from our Pentium 4 running in excess of 3.5GHz. With a more flexible processor, you might even be able to wring faster front side bus settings from the board – we were admittedly limited by our 3GHz sample.

Cons:


Price: Far and away, the most influential factor that will scare most enthusiasts from buying a P4G8X is its price. Though not yet widely available, we did find the Deluxe model online for around $260. The vanilla P4G8X, which doesn’t offer IEEE 1394 or Serial ATA (Gigabit LAN and audio are optional), can be had for around $230. In comparison, you can find a P4PE for right around $130!

Memory Requirements: The biggest inconvenience imposed by the P4G8X is its memory demands. It runs with a single DDR memory module, but we’d assume most folks would prefer to run both channels to maximize performance. In order to do that, you’ll need a matching pair of DDR DIMMs. Remember, they don’t need to be of the same brand.

Final Verdict


81%

FiringSquad says:


Intel was the last chipset manufacturer to jump on the DDR memory bandwagon, yet here it is, first to market with a dual-channel DDR chipset for the Pentium 4 (we’re not counting the high-end E7501 Xeon chipset). It’d be hard to argue that the “Granite Bay” chipset isn’t fast. More specifically, the ASUS P4G8X is one of the fastest in our menagerie of motherboards. In a way, it reaffirms Intel’s commitment to DDR memory since the platform rounds out a high-end family comprised of the E7500 and E8870 server chipsets and the E7505 workstation platform.

All things considered, the ASUS P4G8X is a well-designed piece of hardware. It offers a ton of features and some of the best performance we’ve yet to see. However, it does so at a prohibitively high price point. Intel designed the chipset for a workstation audience, where 4GB of memory and a 1000Mbit Ethernet connection would be more readily appreciated. In essence, we feel like a group of Ferrari fanatics reviewing a Porsche Cayenne. In its ideal environment it probably excels. But, insofar as gaming is concerned, it merely performs on par with the chipsets that are already available and it does so for significantly more money that could be effectively repurposed.

Given the performance of the E7205 chipset, we’ll hold our breath for Springdale, Intel’s answer for the desktop Pentium 4 market, set to debut in the first half of this year. It will of course feature AGP 8x support in addition to possible 800MHz front side bus and integrated Serial ATA support. We hope it will also cost significantly less than the Granite Bay boards that we are seeing today.

 

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Copyright © 2002 Øyvind Haugland
Sist endret:  13 januar 2019
 

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