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Intel's Strike Force: 19 DDR-Motherboards With 845 Chipset and DDR-Support

Asus P4B266

Board Revision: 2.01

BIOS Version: 1005 (December 27, 2001)

The P4B266 from Asus is the only motherboard among the candidates that allows the CPU parameters to be set either in the BIOS or via DIP switches on the board. Home users should definitely stick to the BIOS setup, as it offers maximum comfort and easy handling. Corporate users or system integrators that are going to sell their systems can set the hardware configuration in order to prevent customers changing the settings themselves and rendering the system unusable. An added bonus is the Asus BIOS update software that allows the procedure to be performed directly in any Windows OS rather than in DOS.

Asus placed three DIMM sockets onto the P4B266. Though the 845 chipset only supports four memory rows (which corresponds to two double-sided DIMMs), you will get better upgrading options when only using single-sided DIMMs. Asus also supports ECC memory and allows you to boot from any USB device, which most other boards do not offer, either.

Also, there is a chassis intrusion detection pin which can be used to report unauthorised access to the system hardware.

As for the sound system, Asus generously provides a PCI sound chip rather than an AC97 solution. A CMI8738 from C-Media is present to provide six-channel sound.

At 2219 MHz, Asus exceeds the standard 2.2 GHz by some MHz (the FSB speed is 100.90 MHz), which may explain its excellent performance.

You can make many modifications to the CPU settings, starting with Vcore options (1.5 to 1.7 V in 0.025 V increments) and ending with the option to increase the memory voltage by 0.2 V.

1.7 V maximum core voltage may not be enough to break the 3 GHz barrier, but it is definitely good for clock speeds that are 400-600 MHz faster. This board is ready for the future, coming with a USB 2.0 controller from NEC. Asus includes the corresponding adapter cable with 4 ports. In addition, we found an exemplary manual, a driver CD, a short installation guide, a complete set of flat cables and a slot cover containing coaxial digital-in/out ports for the sound system. Asus fans might be pleased about the Asus sticker that comes with this motherboard, too.