Articles: Mainboards

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The integrated audio in the ASUS P4P800S is provided by a six-channel AC’97 AD1888 codec from Analog Devices. It supports SPDIF output through the coaxial connector at the mainboard’s back panel. The Analog Devices website doesn’t contain any technical info about this codec, so I can’t say anything definite about its characteristics. Subjectively, the quality of the sound is good enough.

The networking capabilities of the ASUS P4P800S are implemented via the Realtek 8100C PCI chip. Actually, the mainboard doesn’t use the special CSA bus, which Intel intended for networking in the i848P chipset. Controllers that use this bus are too expensive to be installed onto budget products. Thus, the ASUS P4P800S doesn’t support Gigabit Ethernet, but provides only 10/100Mbit data transfer-rates across the network.

Summing it up, I would say that the ASUS P4P800S doesn’t boast an incredible number of various options. It didn’t take me long to describe them all, as you see. However, this is not an indication of how good or bad the mainboard is.

PCB Design

Even the PCB design of ASUS P4P800S indicates that this is a budget solution. First of all, its size is small – this reduces the manufacturing cost. Trying to make the PCB as small as possible, ASUS engineers went for a few questionable solutions, which somewhat spoil the impression of the product.

For example, both ATX power connectors are located at the back edge, behind the chipset. So, the cables tailing from the PSU stretch over the CPU cooler. They hinder proper cooling and may even get caught by the fan blades. The Parallel ATA connectors are not exactly where they are supposed to be, too. Well, the first IDE connector is in its right place – in front of the DIMM slots. As for the second connector, it is shifted to the South Bridge chip and is not that conveniently placed: in front of the PCI slots. I only hope that the second Parallel ATA connector won’t be occupied too often, since Serial ATA drives are gaining their ground right now. The USB and Serial ATA connectors are also laid out in front ofd the PCI slots, thus making expansion cards installation a little bit difficult sometimes.

The ASUS P4P800S has only five PCI slots, and the AGP one is not too close to the DIMM slots. Thus, the installed graphics card won’t interfere with installation or removal of memory modules.

Note also that ASUS has begun to color-code the connector for the buttons and LEDs of the system case. It makes the assembly of the P4P800S system easier.

A passive heatsink is mounted on the North Bridge. There is nothing bad about it, since passive cooling is quite enough even for the i865PE chipset, and the i848P is a simplified version of it, so there should be no problem also.

Winding up this section of the review, I would like to point to the fact that the P4P800S has only one COM port. Its place in the back panel is occupied by the SPDIF output, while the PCB itself carries no connector to enable this missing COM.

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