Well, wild and crazy for motherboard manufacturers, anyway.
Concerned that their products have become a commodity item, many companies are trying to distinguish their mobos with inclusions that would have been considered radical a year or two ago. A classic example is Soyo's DRAGON line, which we have reviewed extensively. A more recent example is Abit's MAX line, which we have also looked at in detail. These boards bundle in on-board RAID, Ethernet and audio, gobs of USB ports, and in some cases even 3.5" bay media readers. This is not your father's motherboard.
Now VIA, known best for the chipsets that go on the motherboards, is getting into the act, as well. The P4PB Ultra is a Pentium 4 board based on VIA's P4X400 chipset. In addition to the fun that the P4X400 brings to the table (8X AGP, ATA-133, USB 2.0 and even unofficial DDR400 support) the P4PB Ultra offers up its own frivolity in the form of extra bundled goodies. But is the package enough to make the P4PB Ultra competitive in the crowded motherboard market? Read on to find out.
Though many of the P4PB Ultra's impressive extras are bundled with the motherboard rather than living on it, there are still a few interesting items on the board itself. Therefore, we'll start out by taking a look at the board's capabilities and then look at the bundled extras. Here are the stats on the board:
|CPU support||Socket 478-based Intel Pentium 4 processors|
|North bridge||VIA VT8754|
|South bridge||VIA VT8235|
|PCI slots||6 32-bit/33MHz|
|AGP slots||2X/4X/8X AGP (1.5V only)|
|AMR/CNR slots||1 CNR|
|Memory||3 184-pin DIMM sockets
Maximum of 3GB of DDR333/266/200 SDRAM
(Unofficial DDR400 support)
|Storage I/O||Floppy disk
2 channels ATA/133
2 channels ATA/133 IDE RAID 0, 1 (no 0+1)
|Legacy ports||1 PS/2 keyboard, 1 PS/2 mouse, Serial and Parallel ports|
2 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
4 additional USB 2.0/1.1 ports via included back plate
Support for 10 total USB 2.0/1.1 ports
C-Media CMI8738-MX 6-channel audio
standard audio jacks
S/PDIF output ports (optical and coaxial) via included back plate expansion header
|Ethernet||VIA VT8235 10/100 Ethernet|
|BIOS||Phoenix - AwardBIOS|
|Bus speeds||100-132MHz in 1MHz increments (for 100MHz FSB CPUs)
133-200MHz in 1MHz increments (for 133MHz FSB CPUs)
|Voltages||CPU: -0.1V to +0.1V from default in 0.025V increments
DRAM: 2.5-2.8V in 0.1V increments
AGP: 1.5-1.8V in 0.1V increments
|Monitoring||Voltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring|
If you read a lot of motherboard reviews, you've probably seen any one of the above features on other boards. However, when you look at them as a whole, finding another board that has all of them might prove difficult. Next we'll take a more detailed look at the board and its features, as well as those extras I keep talking about.