The VIA P4PB Ultra and specifically the P4X400 chipset are much better than the previous Pentium IV offerings from VIA. Add to that the features and accessories that come with the P4PB Ultra and you have a pretty decent motherboard package. I have to admit the P4PB Ultra exceeded my expectations. After dealing with motherboards based on the P4X266 and P4X333 chipsets VIA has gotten it right with the P4X400 chipset. It is really a shame about the legal hassles VIA had with Intel and that mainstream motherboard manufacturers didn't pick up this chipset. A company like ABIT or ASUS could have tweaked and optimized this chipset like they have done to others and give the Intel 845 chipsets a run for their money. Unfortunately they didn't.
The only problem I had while using the P4PB Ultra was the PROMISE lit RAID controller they chose does not seem to support using it as additional IDE headers. No matter what options I chose I could not get anything to recognize I had plugged a hard drive into it. Once I plugged two hard drives into it, the RAID functionality appeared but I wanted to use it as extra IDE connections like I've done on almost every motherboard I had before. Also, I could not find any help on PROMISE's website about the chip VIA implemented on the P4PB Ultra. It was a very frustrating experience.
With the release of Intel 865 (Springdale) and 875 (Canterwood) chipsets the P4X400 chipset is going to have a short lifespan. Hopefully, VIA can follow-up the successes of this chipset with a newer one that supports Dual Channel DDR and again compete with the new Intel's chipsets.
Thanks to VIA Technologies, Inc. for providing this review sample.
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