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VIA P4PB Ultra Review
By: Memphist0
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    Table of Contents:
  • VIA P4PB Ultra Review
  • What's in the Box?
  • On-board Audio and Motherboard Layout
  • The BIOS
  • Benchmarks
  • Benchmarks Continued
  • Even More Benchmarks
  • Conclusion

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    VIA P4PB Ultra Review

    (Page 1 of 8 )

    VIA Technologies' has probably received more press about their P4Xxxx chipsets not because of their performance but because of the constant fighting with Intel that these chipsets have caused... The question in my mind: was Intel afraid the P4X400 chipset might take some business away from their 845 chipset sales? Let's look at the details of the P4X400 chipset and see what it has to offer.

    VIA Technologies' has probably received more press about their P4Xxxx chipsets not because of their performance but because of the constant fighting with Intel that these chipsets have caused.  If you hadn't been keeping up, Intel was challenging VIA's license to make a Pentium IV chipset.  Basically, Intel was trying to charge VIA a fee for every Pentium IV chipset they sold.  Intel decided to not only to fight VIA in the court rooms but and trade shows too.  The most memorable of which were the VIA balloons that Intel "allegedly" ordered to be removed from Comdex and when they weren't "supposedly" popped the balloons themselves.  Well we will probably not know the truth about who did what but did make for interesting articles.  The question in my mind: was Intel afraid the P4X400 chipset might take some business away from their 845 chipset sales?

    So let's look at the details of the P4X400 chipset and see what it has to offer:


    VIA P4PB Ultra Specifications

    Xtreme Mainboards for Xtreme Users


    - Intel® Pentium® 4, Celeron® Processor
    - 533/400MHz Front Side Bus
    - Hyper-Threading Support for 3.06G and up Processors


    - VIA Apollo P4X400 North Bridge
    - VT8235 South Bridge

    System Memory

    - 3 DDR400/333 DIMM Sockets
    - Up to 3GB

    Expansion Slots

    - 1 AGP 8X/4X slot (1.5V Support)
    - 6 PCI Slots
    - 1 CNR Slot

    Onboard IDE

    - 2 ATA133/100 Connectors
    - Promise RAID 0,1 Dual Channel Controller

    Onboard FDD

    - 1 x FDD Connector

    Onboard Audio

    - C-Media CM18738 6 Channel Controller

    Onboard LAN

    - 10/100 Ethernet Controller integrated in VT8235 + VT6103 PHY

    Onboard USB

    - VIA VT6202 USB 2.0 Host Controller + VT8235


    - 4 USB 2.0/1.1 Connectors for 8 Additional Ports
    - 1 Audio Pin-Header for SPDIF (Optical & RCA), Rear, Sub/Center
    - 1 Front Audio Pin-Header for Line-Out, Mic-In
    - CD Audio-in Connector
    - AUX-in Connector
    - Voice Modem Connector
    - IR Connector
    - CIR Connector
    - Wake-on-LAN, Wake-on-Ring
    - CPU/Sys FAN
    - 20-pin ATX Power, 4-pin ATX AUX 12V Power
    - 1 x Buzzer
    - 1 DIP Switch for 100/133/ FSB Setting
    - System Intrusion Connector
    - Smart Card/Memory Stick/SD Reader Connector


    - Award BIOS, STR, ACPI, WfM 2.0, DMI 2.0
    - 2/4Mbit Flash Memory

    System Monitoring & Management

    - CPU Temperature Monitoring
    - CPU Voltage Monitoring
    - Wake-on-LAN, Wake-on-Ring, Keyboard-Power-on, Timer-Power-on
    - System Power Management
    - AC Power Failure Recovery

    Onboard IDE

    - ATA/133/100/66/
    - 2IDE connectors

    Form Factor

    - ATX (4 layers)
    - 30.5cm x 24.5cm

    In case you didn't feel like looking at the chart, let me point out some key features.  The P4X400 supports both 400MHz and 533MHz front side bus Pentium IV processors.  Due to its age on the market, it does not support the recently released 800MHz front side bus Pentium IVs.  It does support hyper-threading.  It supports 8X and 4X AGP operation something the 845 chipset from Intel did not.  It has a C-Media CMI8738 6 channel chip for on board audio support, on board RAID controller, and a 10/100 Ethernet controller.  Supports USB 2.0 and ATA133. Not a bad set of features.

    VIA also provides some motherboard specific software that they call Flight Deck.  Flight Deck is made up of MissionControl, JetStream, FlashPort, and SysProbe.  I figure no one can describe them as well as their creators:

    "Track and monitor mission critical system data such as voltage values, temperature, and component speeds to maximize system life and minimize downtime caused by system overloads and failure. MissionControl also supports remote system management system on the same network."

    "Tune system performance like the professionals. Optimize system stability and squeeze the last drop of performance from your system. No more messy board-level jumper setting. JetStream provides incremental performance adjustments through the easy to use JetStream dashboard interface. Two oneclick tuning options are provided: a "Auto Optimize" mode and a "Manual" mode for experienced tuners."

    "Manage BIOS specification information, version backups, and flashing procedures through FlashPort's easy to use GUI interface. No more system restarts and DOS mode operation when updating the system BIOS. FlashPort enables seamless Live Windows®-based BIOS updates."

    "Obtain comprehensive system hardware and software information quickly and easily through SysProbe's easy to navigate GUI interface. Information available at your fingertips includes system capabilities as well as complete operational and installation status of hardware system components."

    Of the four applications, JetStream was the most interesting but also the biggest disappointment.  I would make changes using JetStream, run an application, and see the settings never took affect...even the "Auto Optimize" settings.  I think this would have a been pretty sweet app if it worked, the idea of kind of reminded me of the old SoftFSB program from the BX chipset days. 

    The other three applications ran as expected.  The FlashPort program is an easy way to update your bios, but call me old fashioned, it still gives me the willies flashing a bios from inside Windows.  MissionControl is similar to the popular Motherboard Monitor application most of you are probably familiar with, with the exception that this one is already configured for this chipset.  SysProbe I didn't have a whole lot of use for although it does provide some interesting information.

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