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Socket 7 Board Review July 1998

Asus P5A

ATX motheboard, ALi Aladdin V Chipset (Rev. E), 512 kB L2 Cache, 5x PCI, 2x ISA, AGP slot; voltages: 2.0 - 3.5V.

We have been waiting some weeks for the Asus super 7 board, but finally it is here exclusively for you. Asus decided to use the Aladdin chipset and 512 kB cache. The board is equipped with 5 PCI and 2 ISA slots as well as 3 DIMM sockets, that should be enough for most systems.

I was surprised to see that this board is the fastest in Business Winstone 98, even faster than the DFI motherboard with its 1 MB cache. But strangely it was the slowest in Quake II, clearly slower than the all other competitors. Besides, first the textures did not appear correctly with the Direct3D games Incoming and Forsaken - after reinstalling the ALi AGP drivers it worked fine. Asus reacted quickly: After one week we got an updated BIOS which enables more PCI and AGP performance. Thanks to those optimizations Asus has the crown not only among slot 1 boards but now also offers one of the very best socket 7 motherboards.

Unlike the other ALi chipset motherboards the Asus model is suited very well for overclocking: Except the standard bus speeds of up to 100 MHz the board is capable of running at 105, 110, 115 or 120 MHz as well. Also 95 MHz bus speed is supported for the K6-2 333. The 120 MHz setting provoked some hang ups, but all other settings seem to work properly.

Another speciality may be the option to change the I/O voltage: 3.5, 3.6, 3.8 or 4.0 Volts are the options. This is becoming more and more important since overclocking the system bus by more than only some per cent may also require higher voltages. Here you get the chance for to do it.

The missing option of the Aladdin V chipset to run the memory asynchronously forbids to recommend this board for upgraders. You will need PC-100 memory for 100 MHz CPUs. For all others the P5A can be considered as the most flexible motherboard regarding CPUs and overclocking.

After improving the I/O performance the P5A is now one of the best motherboards: It's fast, suited for overclocking, it has 5 PCI slots, supports all voltages and runs absolutely stable. And for all of you who don't want to lose an ISA slot for your soundcard, this board is also available with integrated ESS soundchip.