A Lackluster Premiere: ALi Aladdin-P4

Conclusion: Slowest DDR Chipset For P4

With a few exceptions, the benchmark results clearly show that the ALi Aladdin P4 chipset is currently the slowest for the Intel Pentium 4. Its weak RAM performance caused it to stick out like a sore thumb in some of the benchmark disciplines. During the test, however, the board was impressively stable day after day - the reference system didn't crash even once.

The specifications listed in the press release and on the manufacturer's home page turned out to be a clear-cut case of false advertising during our test - the board doesn't have an option that allows you to run the RAM at 166 MHz, while the FSB clock speed is set at 100 MHz. These clock speed settings are necessary since the current Pentium 4 is only specified to run at 100 MHz, and Intel doesn't plan on increasing the FSB clock speed to 133 MHz for another two or three months. It's impossible to predict whether the ALi Aladdin P4 chipset will support the next generation of Pentium 4 processors with FSB clock speeds of 133 MHz.

No matter what else it might do, ALi ought to offer a suitable BIOS with a DDR333 option if the chipset actually supports the feature, as the ALi marketing material claims it does. One substantial feature that sets the new chipset apart from the competition is its inclusion of the fast Ultra DMA/133 mode for both IDE controllers. However, informed users will miss the USB 2.0 functionality that only the SiS 645 and the VIA P4X266A offer. A simple option would be to integrate an additional USB controller that would act as an additional PCI device.

Overall, though, the fact remains that most motherboard manufacturers have already filled out their portfolios - the ink on the contracts with their chipset suppliers has been dry for some time now. This makes things difficult for ALi - the Aladdin P4's only selling point thus remains its price, which should be about half that of the Intel 845D.