i865PE chipset started its victorious march getting more and more popular as a platform for new Pentium 4 processors supporting high-speed 800MHz bus. This popularity can be explained by not very high cost of the boards based on this chipset and also by a very functional features set it offers. You know that Intel introduced DDR SDRAM and SerialATA drives support and implemented 8 USB 2.0 ports in its new i865PE, which definitely made it much more attractive than the predecessor, i845PE. Many mainboard manufacturers gave credit to Intel for that and were more than willing to introduce numerous solutions based on i865PE. As for the end-users, they were really excited about the rich features and low cost of i865PE based mainboards, and with great enthusiasm started purchasing new solutions for their new Intel processors supporting 800MHz bus and Hyper-Threading technology.
However, dedicated hardware enthusiasts were still a bit unhappy about i865PE. It was another chipset, i875P, that made them feel not very comfortable about getting an i865PE based mainboard. The thing is that i875P performed about 2-5% better than i865PE featuring the same specifications. Everything had to do with the notorious PAT technology (Performance Acceleration Technology), which was allegedly supported only by the more expensive i875, according to Intel. Therefore, the enthusiasts faced a really hard choice: they could either spend 1.5 times more money on a i875P based mainboard, or could be happy with i865PE based solution knowing that it is not the world’s fastest one.
This problem could remain unsolved, if it were not for ASUS. The engineers of this company studied the entire Intel’s documentation for the new chipsets, which they had at their disposal, and managed to squeeze a little bit more out of i865PE than anyone else. ASUS found a way to enable PAT technology on an i865PE based mainboard and to make it run as fast as an i875P based mainboard does. Following in ASUS’ footsteps, some other mainboard makers tried to do the same thing. That is why, the situation looks not so nice for Intel today: i875P chipset costs 1.5 times more than i865PE, but the only advantage it can now boast is ECC support, which is absent in its better value counterpart.
All these events in the chipset and mainboard market pushed us towards the idea of devoting a special article to a “revolutionary” ASUS P4P800 solution, which is exactly the first board on i865PE with enabled PAT technology.
Important: Since one respected on-line source dared state that the mass pieces of ASUS P4P800 differ from the samples sent out to editors, we would like to stress the following. The mainboard we review here was purchased in a regular retail hardware store, so it doesn’t fit into the “press sample” category. Moreover, we doubt if that site’s reproaches are justified at all. The preproduction samples sent out to reviewers are very often different from the mass units, because engineers continue debugging them even after the review samples have already been sent out. That is why the pointed out differences do not indicate that the mass products are of lower quality. Later in this article we will see that it is true.