ASUS P3V4X vs SOYO 6VCA

Add Your Comments

SUMMARY: SOYO outpoints ASUS by a TKO – closely matched in many areas but the SOYO delivers more punches than ASUS.

I have been looking at a number of VIA 133A boards (not all by any means) which have been reviewed earlier. I found those I personally tested earlier (ABIT, Gigabyte and MSI) to be OK but not great, for varying reasons. The ASUS P3V4X is a very popular board; reviews abound so I will not do a “traditional” review on it.

What I intend to do here is a head-to-head comparison between the ASUS and SOYO. Both boards perform on par with BX boards relative to memory performance, the supposed “weak spot” of the VIA chipset. Rather than a weak point, it seems that VIA’s anemic tech support to motherboard manufacturers is more to blame. WCPREDIT did much to close the performance gap and SOYO, to their credit, quickly released a new BIOS (2aa3, used here) incorporating 4-way Memory interleaving (ASUS BIOS 1003 used).

Both boards were lent to me by Steve at Extreme Systems; we are working on a project that involves testing each board, so I am fortunate to have each to test out.

THE COMMON GROUND

Levelling the playing field between the two was accomplished by using common components on each board as follows:

  • PIII 600E cA2 @ 800 MHz (133 FSB), 1.7 v
  • ABIT Slotket !!! (default settings)
  • 128 MB HSDRAM
  • Matrox G400 16 MB
  • Western Digital 8.4 G ATA 66 (same model, two drives)
  • 250 watt Power Supplies
  • Alpha PEP 66
  • Windows 98SE Clean Install
  • VIA 4.20 Drivers with AGP 4.02 update*

I tried the 417 drivers and found no difference.

The test suite consisted of Prime95 for stability, SiSoft Sandra, Quake3 demo, Final Reality and 3DMark 2000. Same monitor (run at 800×600), KB and mouse used for each.

PHYSICAL LAYOUT

The following table lists stuff I could see on each board:

Component

ASUS

SOYO

Large Capacitors

10

6

Medium Capacitors

10

9

Small Capacitors

3

40

ICS FSB Chip

9250-18

9248-98

Power Transistors

10

5

PCI/ISA/AMR Slots

6/1/0

5/1/1

Alpha PEP66 DIMM Fit

Touches SDRAMs

1/4″ Clearance

Coils

3

3

Voltage Settings

BIOS

Jumpers

On-Board Audio

No

Yes

Some reviewers rhapsodize about the number and size of capacitors as a measure of a board’s stability; I think it’s more a question of design approach. ASUS appears to design boards to minimize discrete parts (cheaper to build) while SOYO liberally sprinkles them around. I would like to hear from more knowledgeable readers if in fact this portends a significant performance difference.

The biggest physical difference is SOYO’s useless AMR slot – one less PCI slot because of it. In addition, the DIMM clearance on the ASUS is real tight; the PEP66 fit like it was built in – 0 clearance; the SOYO allowed about 1/4″ clearance.

The FSB chipsets are ICS and feature the same number of FSBs, so in this respect they are equal. SOYO’s voltage jumpers are so close to the CPU slot that you must use a tweezers to change them or remove the CPU.

CONCLUSION: An edge to ASUS for the extra PCI slot and voltage adjustments in BIOS.

THE TEST SUITE

SiSoft Sandra

TEST

ASUS

SOYO

CPU

2169/1077

2149/1067

MultiMedia

2531/3369

2506/3336

Hard Drive

10269

10441

Memory

374/435

367/432

Looking at these results, could be the same board on two different days. The largest difference is in hard drive performance, but that could be due to sample differences (remember: two drives of the same model).

CONCLUSION: Dead heat.

Final Reality

TEST

ASUS

SOYO

2 D

7.12

7.77

3 D

4.64

4.90

Bus Transfer Rate

9.46

7.50

Overall

6.11

6.15

AGP

62.11

108.44

Overall a tie, but some substantial differences in Bus Transfer Rates and AGP performance (AGP not included in Overall Score). In looking at the detail under Bus Transfer, ASUS scores 9.44 and 9.52 in 2D and 3D marks respectively while the SOYO scores 8.57 and 5.00 respectively. This test tends to be more indicative of the video card’s performance and for whatever reason, the Matrox likes the ASUS more.

However, of more importance are the AGP scores; here SOYO scores a substantial 75% better than the ASUS. Both boards are set for AGP 4X, so that should not account for any difference. This test is more of a motherboard test than video card.

CONCLUSION: Win for SOYO considering AGP performance.

QUAKE3

The Matrox G400 is not a gamers board – I will use a different board in the next test round. However, the ASUS would not load the Quake3 Test. The Soyo did with the following results:

SOYO: 66.9 fps

CONCLUSION: SOYO ran the test, ASUS could not; a SOYO win.

3DMark 2000

A disturbing pattern – once again the ASUS could not consistently complete this test. I did get one full run on the ASUS to compare to SOYO:

SOYO: 2812
ASUS: 2559

CONCLUSION: SOYO ahead by about 10%, and could run the test consistently. A SOYO win.

ROUND ONE RESULTS

Based on these tests, I would have to give the nod to the SOYO 6VCA over the ASUS P3V4X. I will admit, going in, I thought the ASUS would turn out to be the better choice, so I am a little surprised by the results. However, there were nagging problems with the ASUS early on and perhaps it is more indicative of the motherboard’s performance than the VIA drivers.

I will do some more testing and update this review shortly.

Email Joe


UPDATE 6/3/00:

Some have observed that the ASUS PLL chip runs hot; I measured it and, with a PIII 600E @ 138 MHz running Benchmarks, it hits 58.5 C – kind of toasty. The SOYO, same setup, runs 45.3 C. There are reports that cooling the ASUS chip allows you to hit speeds of 140 MHz and better, so something to look into; certainly can’t hurt to keep it cool.

SUMMARY: Out of the blue, the Iwill VD133 Pro shows up and acts as the spoiler. It outperforms the ASUS and SOYO and seems more stable.

When I started this comparison, I thought the ASUS P3V4X and the Soyo 6VCA were reasonably evenly matched and at the top of the heap. Iwill sends me the VD133 Pro to test out, and I find it outperforms both the ASUS and SOYO in both benchmarks and stability. Go figure!

For the comparisons that follow, I used the LeadTek GeForce 2 GTS for video running the GPU @ 200 MHz and the SGRAM @ 400 MHz, 128 MB HSDRAM (7ns) and PIII 600 E. I benchmarked with Quake 3D, 3D Mark 2000 and Final Reality. The first series of tests is with the PIII 600 E @ 800 MHz, then the best stable speed for each board. This is FSBs of 140 MHz for Iwill and 138 MHz for the SOYO and ASUS. Stability was measured by Prime 95. Each board had 4-way memory interleave with the fastest SDRAM settings.

I quickly found that the ASUS could not run Quake3 at any reasonable speed with the VIA 420/AGP402 drivers; I installed the 417 set only on the ASUS. The Soyo and Iwill had no problems with the latest VIA driver set. The LeadTek drivers used were the shipping drivers – there are others available and those will be tested later.

Driver issues seem to plague the ASUS and I don’t have a clue as to why. I was able to run 3DMark 2000 at 138 MHz but not at 133 MHz. We saw this early on and Dan Edgar of Overclockers.com did a number of articles and posts in the Forum on this issue.

You will also note in the results that the SOYO was unable to complete a full run of 3DMark 2000 while the Iwill had no problems. I find it strange that Iwill, not a big player in the motherboard market, has more success in implementing a stable VIA 133A platform than two more experienced players.

I have not had as much time with the Iwill as the others, so you will note that I don’t have Final Reality marks at 140 FSB for the Iwill. I will add them later.

BENCHMARK RESULTS:

Benchmark ASUS P3V4X SOYO 6VCA Iwill VD133 Pro
800 MHz      
Quake Demo 1

125.7

124.9

129.0

Quake Demo 2

117.4

117.6

120.5

Final Reality 2D

7.29

7.29

7.75

Final Reality 3D

5.75

5.62

5.78

Final Reality Bus Transfer

10.36

10.07

10.35

Final Reality Overall

6.91

6.79

7.05

Final Reality AGP

62.32

62.70

62.72

3DMark 2000

Fail

Fail

6962

ASUS/SOYO 138 MHz, Iwill 140 MHz      
Quake Demo 1

129.7

127.8

135.1

Quake Demo 2

121.1

122.1

126.1

Final Reality 2D

7.63

7.71

NA

Final Reality 3D

5.80

5.45

NA

Final Reality Bus Transfer

10.85

10.43

NA

Final Reality Overall

7.10

6.87

NA

Final Reality AGP

62.84

62.86

NA

3DMark 2000

7041

Fail

7288

NA: I have not run these yet, will add later. Video Card LeadTek GeForce 2 GTS, GPU 200/SGRAM 400, 4-way memory interleave, ASUS VIA 417 Drivers, Others 420 with AGP 402.

CONCLUSIONS:

I would be remiss if I did not point out that samples on one may not be statistically the best approach. However, I nor any other review site is capable or desirous of testing the number of motherboards that might give “statistically valid” sample data; we get confirmation through tests done by others.

Nevertheless, the conclusion I come to is not hard to understand. Based on performance and stability, the Iwill VD133 Pro comes out on top of the ASUS P3V4X and SOYO 6VCA. Now, the obvious question: Is a board with integrated RAID the way you want to go? Many are not willing to pay extra for RAID to get this level of performance.

I asked Iwill about this, and guess what? There is a board called the VD133 Pro Lite that is, you guessed it, the same board WITHOUT the RAID feature. Iwill is sending me one to test out and I’ll do a comparison between the two. Meanwhile, the testing continues with the RAID version by adding multiple drives.

Finally, as to ASUS vs SOYO – it’s a coin toss, but I give the nod to SOYO based on Asus’s continuing VIA driver problems. Based on sheer peformance, the ASUS does come out ahead but by a whisker.

PS: I get emails asking me “What should I do?” I still say until we know what the Solano (i815) will do, waiting is best.

Email Joe


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *