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


Board Revision: A0

BIOS Version: March 31, 2003

Square. Practical. Good. We couldn't help but think of this ad slogan when we saw the compact box of the PS35-BL. Obviously, it's a MicroATX board. When you open the package, the first thing you see is a Serial ATA cable; that means the matching controller won't be far off.

And it isn't. An 865G chipset from Intel serves its purpose. Unlike the board from Albatron, on this board using the integrated graphics unit can be avoided by plugging in an AGP graphics card, which increases performance.

As our requirements specify an up-to-date system, we accordingly ran the tests with our GeForce FX 5600 as well. Lo and behold, we have performance - and plenty of it. Equipped with 2x 256 MB DDR-SDRAM and notoriously leisurely timings (6-3-3-CL2.5), the PS35-BL achieves very good results in all benchmarks.

Even the equipment of this board leaves nothing to be desired, for in addition to the usual connectors for IDE, floppy, and four additional 2.0-standard USB ports, the board is populated with a network controller from Realtek, two Serial ATA ports, and sound system from C-Media. As many as four USB ports are available on the connector panel; the missing FireWire controllers are easily forgotten. The connector for the game/MIDI port is hidden between two PCI slots. To use it, however, you have to buy an adapter cable.

But now, the decisive question: how much does a thing like that cost? In any case, considerably more than the bulk of the 845 boards tested, although the dual-channel memory interface and the serial ATA controller in particular add value and go a long way towards justifying the price. We can't decide for you whether the plus in performance and long-term value is worth the higher investment.

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