The Asus P4G8X Deluxe Motherboard
Intel E7205 - Granite Bay Infused Horsepower

By, Dave Altavilla
December 18, 2002

The first Granite Bay (Intel E7205 chipset) motherboard to grace the HotHardware Laboratories not long ago, was MSI's GNB Max.  This board, supports Dual Channel DDR and AGP8X, as well as a host of other features, for the Pentium 4 platform.  However, this board, as well as a few others we have seen specifications for, seems to be more targeted at the High End Workstation crowd, rather than the enthusiast or "Overclockers" out there.  In fact, Intel's strategy with this new chipset for the Pentium 4, is also to target this space as well.  Intel's follow-on chipset, code named "Springdale", so we've been told by a few sources, is going to be much more suited toward the enthusiast crowd.  We'll get back to more detail on this later but the point is, Granite Bay boards are coming into focus now and they are not completely focused on the types of end users, that make up the Elite HotHardware - Custom PC building clientele.

Now, having said this, Asus Computer is well known for bucking the trend and also for not following the standard "reference design" model for their Motherboard product lines.  It seems as though, good bad or indifferent, Asus always puts their own personal spin on their products and for the most part, they cater to you and me, the Custom Built PC Enthusiast.  As one might imagine, their first incarnation of a Granite Bay offering is cut from the same cloth.  The real question is, "is it ready for prime-time in the enthusiast market segment"?  We'll try to cover all the salient points and performance characteristics of the Asus P4G8X and let you be the judge.

Specifications / Features of the Asus P4G8X
Granite Bay, Dialed In and Ready

   
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN FULL VIEW
 

CPU
- Supports Socket 478 for Intel Pentium 4 (Northwood only) processor
- Supports up 3.06G/533MHz and higher speed


Chipset
Intel E7205 Chipset
- Supports single processor up to 533MHz
- Supports 144bit wide DDR 2100 memory interface, with the
  memory bandwidth of 4.3GB/s or 3.2 GB/s
- Supports AGP 8x or 4x at 0.8V (AGP 3.0) or 4x at 1.5V
 

Intel ICH4 Chipset
- AC'97 Controller Integrated
- 2 full IDE channels, up to ATA100
- Low pin count interface for SIO
- Integrated USB 2.0 controller


Bus Frequency
- Supports 100/133MHz FSB
- Supports 400/533MHz Intel NetBurst micro-architecture bus

Memory
- Supports Dual channel (144-bit wide) DDR 266 memory
  interface. Each channel supports 2 DIMM Sockets
- Supports four 184-pin DDR DIMM sockets up to 4GB.
- Supports non-ECC(x64) or ECC(x72) DIMMs DDR PC2001
  DIMM using 128Mb, 256Mb, 512Mb and 1GB SDRAM.


IDE
- An IDE controller on the ICH4 chipset provides IDE HDD/ CD-ROM with PIO,
  Bus Master and Ultra DMA66/100 operation modes.
- Can connect up to four IDE devices.
- Silicon Image  SATALink controller  - 2 Serial ATA ports at 150 MB/s
  operation mode and 1 Ultra DMA port. (optional)


Audio

- Realtek ALC650 6-channel CODEC

System BIOS
-
4Mb Flash ROM, Award BIOS, TCAV, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash, ASUS MyLogo2, CrashFree BIOS, C.P.R
 

Expansion Slots
- One 8X/4X AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) universal slot
- Five PCI v2.2 32-bit master PCI bus slots

On Board Ethernet LAN
BROADCOM Gigabit  - 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet Controller
- Supports 10Mb/s , 100Mb/s, 1Gb/s auto-negotiation operation
 
Internal I/O Connectors
On-Board Peripherals include:
- 1 floppy port supports 2 FDDs with 360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M
  and 2.88Mbytes
- 2 serial ports (COM A + COM B)
- 1 parallel port supports SPP/EPP/ECP mode
- 4 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
- 1 Line-In/Line-Out/Mic-In port
- 2 PS/2 connectors
- 1 LAN RJ45 connector
(Optional)

Back Panel I/O
2 PS/2 connectors (keyboard and mouse)
2 9-pin Serial port
1 25-pin SPP/ECP/EPP Parallel port
4 USB 2.0 ports
3 Audio connectors (Line-out, Line-in, Mic-in)
1 10/100/1000 LAN connector


Package Contents
Asus P4G8X

User's manual
UltraDMA cable
IDE cable
FDD cable
2-port USB 2.0 / Game port module
S/PDIF in/out module (optional)
I/O shield
InterVideo WinCinema (Gold version only)



Form Factor
ATX Form Factor 12" x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.5cm)

 

The board configuration itself is quite similar to the MSI Granite Bay board we reviewed here not long ago, with a few subtle differences.  Asus uses a Broadcom Gigabit  Ethernet controller, versus the Intel controller MSI used.  In addition, MSI's board uses a C-Media 6 Channel Audio solution, which we prefer rather than the Realtek CODEC that Asus used on the P4G8X here.  Finally, the Asus folks chose to go with a Silicon Image SATA chipset, versus the Promise Controller MSI went with.  Once again, we like the route MSI went, with Promise for the SATA solution, since that seems to be a bit more mature and has a better RAID BIOS, in our opinion.  We will cover this later in the BIOS setup however.

 

        
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

Intel's E7205 chipset, as you can see, provides 4.3GB/sec of memory bandwidth to the Pentium 4's 533MHz system bus.  The chipset supports up to 4GB of RAM, so server implementations can easily be supported with the cost effectiveness that DDR DRAM offers.  In addition, AGP8X support is provided and we are happy to report that our Radeon 9700 Pro, that we used for testing, worked flawlessly throughout our benchmark runs.

The P4G8X provides 4 USB ports on the back plate, as well as two serial, Ethernet, Sound, Mouse and Keyboard jacks.  Included with every board is a custom back finish plate for installation into your chassis of choice.  In the middle shot, you'll see the power connectors on the P4G8X, neatly arranged at the edge of the board.  This is a great location for obstruction free ATX Power Cable stringing. 

Additionally, Asus provides their standard Auxilary Power connector, for alternative use versus the 4 pin ATX12V power connector.  This is a really nice feature, since you can then use any standard ATX power supply (we recommend at least 300W) and not have to worry about having the P4 compliant ATX12V connectors, since you can simply plug in a 4 pin drive power connector in this socket.  Finally, Asus has installed a stout heat sink on the E7205 Northbridge.  This provides adequate cooling but we would have preferred an active solution here with an integrated fan.

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