ASUS is known to produce a very high quality and stable motherboard. Up until the P3B-F, they have not catered to the overclocker. There are many die-hard Asus fans that have endured pin taping on slot 1 CPU’s in order to overclock their CPU’s and still be able to use the well built and stable Asus motherboards. The release of the “slocket” has eased the pain of overclocking the PPGA Celerons to an extent, but Asus users have still had to fight jumpers to achieve the desired bus speeds. The P3B-F is a totally new board for Asus designed with us overclockers in mind.
First Impressions and Features
I have a P2B-F in my kids’ computer and was impressed by the build quality and stability of that board. The P3B-F follows the tradition and is very well built. Asus boards cost more than most of the others, but it is well worth it for the quality and stability that these boards possess. The layout of the board is about standard for the current BX offerings with a few exceptions. The floppy connector is located between the first and second PCI slot and is oriented parallel to these slots to allow for full-length PCI cards. The Power supply connector is located to the rear of the Slot 1 and offset towards the power supply.
There are 4 Dimm slots and if you use a PII/Celeron or PIII Alpha heatsink, you will loose the use of 1 dimm slot. If you use a Socket 370 Alpha or FDP32 Global Win on a PPGA Celeron, you will loose 2 Dimm slots. This really bugs me, as overclockers, most of us use BIG heatsinks and it seems the trend is to make the boards smaller and not give us enough room to use this big iron.
Asus is boasting 6 PCI slots on this board. The board I have (and all the ones I have looked at) only have 5 PCI slots and 2 ISA slots. The box states Flexible slots. 6 PCI, 6 PCI and 1 ISA, or 5 PCI and 2 ISA so beware if you are expecting 6 PCI slots, ask the vendor what model number the board is. The one I have is P3B – F/350/5P2I – U. Obviously the 5P2I is the slot arrangement. Most vendors that I have seen just advertise it as P3B-F.
The 4mb Award Bios interface is totally different that I was used to. Within the Bios setup, there are options for CPU vCore voltages of 2.0 all the way to 2.4! Bus multipliers of 2x to 8x in .5 increments. Bus speeds available are 66, 75, 83, 100, 103, 105, 110, 112, 115, 124, 133, 140, and 150. No 129 is available and this could be trouble for some PIII 450 Users as 129 x 4.5 is a sweet spot for a lot of the PIII 450’s. You have a choice of 3 or 4 PCI dividers at 124 and 133. Anything below uses the 3 divider and anything above uses 4.
On the board, there is a jumper to select either 3.5 or 3.65 volts for the RAM and AGP. The 3.5 default struck me as a little odd. I always thought that 3.3 was the default voltage. Could this be a factor in the Asus stability??
The P3B-F also features Suspend to Ram if the OS supports it. This is a nice feature because you can suspend the system to ram when shutting down and when restarting, it takes less that 10 seconds to return to a totally useable state. Personally, I am not really familiar with the Suspend to Ram feature so you will have to play with this feature yourself.
There is on board Fan, voltage and 3 temp monitoring. There are 3 temps monitored. System temp, Internal Diode temp (on PII, PIII and PPGA Celerons) and there is a connector for an external probe (not included).
I really liked this board. I found it to be very stable all the way to 150 MHz. There are only 2 things keeping this from being my favorite board. 1) The location of the Dimm slots. There needs to be more room between the CPU and the Dimm slots to be a serious overclocker’s board for MOST people. 2) No 129 MHz Bus speed. This is bad for many of us PIII users. There is too much of a gap between 124 and 133. As long as those 2 items don’t bother you, you cannot go wrong with buying this board. Hats off to Asus for finally making life easier for the overclockers!
This review and comments are just my personal observations and
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