Big Business: 18 P4 boards In Price / Performance Face-Off

FIC P4-865P Ultra

Board Revision: VL13


BIOS Version: IFM42 (May 16, 2003)

FIC's product reached us relatively late, but we ran benchmarks anyway. The P4-865P Ultra is an ATX board equipped with Intel's 865P chipset which, unlike the 865P and 865GE, does not support the 800 MHz system bus. However, as this was not one of our requirements, the choice of model is a sensible one.

FIC is keen on brightening up its boards with splashes of color. The five PCI slots are blue, the AGP slot is purple, the four DIMM slots are pale blue, and the four additional USB ports (eight in total) are yellow. An optional FireWire controller is also available for this board, although pricing considerations are probably responsible for its absence on the standard version. For many potential purchasers, FireWire is not an absolute necessity anyway.

Also included, are two Serial ATA ports, a Realtek network controller, and a sound system based on a Realtek codec. Thanks to the generous layout, weaknesses are few and far between. The IDE and floppy connectors, for example, are located near the top of the board, allowing cables to the drives to be kept short.

The 865P Ultra is a high-performance board. Thanks to its chipset and dual DIMM configuration, we were able to test it in dual-channel mode, which helped it produce some very good benchmark results. The bundled software from Symantec (Norton Anti Virus, Ghost, Personal Firewall), the USB adapter for ports 5 and 6, and the power and data cable for a Serial ATA drive provide the icing on the cake.

The high price of this motherboard means that it is not exceptional in the value-for-money contest, but it is good value all the same. Nevertheless, the Micro ATX model from DFI offers a better deal for the bulk purchaser, for whom expandability is less of an issue. The FIC is a more attractive proposition for the home user.

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