Articles: Mainboards

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Soon after the launch of Pentium 4 CPU models supporting 800MHz FSB and Hyper-Threading technology, the market experienced a shortage of value chipsets that would support such CPUs. The available chipsets from Intel had a dual-channel memory controller; such solutions are not supposed to be cheap. Meanwhile, junior Pentium 4 models with the 800MHz FSB and 2.4GHz clock frequency cost quite reasonable money – only $178. So, it is quite possible to build a budget computer system around such a CPU.

Of course, the alternative Socket 478 chipset makers, VIA and SiS, were quick to offer their own single-channel chipsets for the new processors. They were the VIA PT880 and SiS648FX. Many users, however, prefer Intel’s chipsets (quite reasonably, I would say) and pay little attention to what VIA or SiS do.

At last, Intel also entered this market sector. After launching the budget i865P chipset with a dual-channel memory subsystem, but without support of 800MHz-FSB CPUs, the company rolled out the i848P chipset, which, on the contrary, works with those processors, but has only one memory channel.

Today we will discuss one of the first mainboards based on the i848P. It is ASUS P4P800S. But before we start I suggest that we investigate the features of the i848P. Although its name suggests a closer relation to the i845PE rather than to the i875/i865PE family, it’s not all that simple. The new i848P has nothing to do with the i845. In fact, the new chipset is a cut-down version of the i865PE, with one memory channel disabled:

Moreover, the i848P is fully pin-compatible with the entire i865 family and its formal characteristics don’t differ from those of the i865PE. The only difference is that i848P supports one memory channel, twice as small memory capacity and twice as few memory modules. In other words, the i848P seems to be manufactured from the same dies as the i865 chipset family. It comes from rejects, which have one defective memory channel. In fact, I can only applaud to Intel’s unified product line. The company has now three chipset families (i875, i865 and i848) that are in fact one and the same thing! They are all produced on the same production lines. Thus, all features of i875/i865 are also available in the i848P, which makes it an up-to-date product.

Mainboard makers, of course, couldn’t get along without the i848P, as mainboards on Intel’s single-channel chipsets still enjoy stable demand. Up till now, we have been offered products on the out-dated i845PE chipset, which allowed overclocking the system bus to the notorious 800MHz mark if designed right. Now, such mainboards will be replaced by i848P-based ones. This new wave of mainboards is represented in our today’s review by a product from ASUS. Note that the P4P800S mainboard doesn’t belong to the budget X-series, but anyway is priced quite moderately, especially for this much-respected brand.

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