Asus P4B266-E and P4S333 in the test: Intel 850 versus Intel 845 and SiS 645

Asus P4B266-E and P4S333 in the test: Intel 850 versus Intel 845 and SiS 645


If you look at the P4B266-E, you won't have much to complain about with the board's layout. At first glance, the location of the ATX Power Connector and EZ Plug seems to have slipped a bit far to the right outer side of the mainboard, but it is also possible to route the cable that does not have to go across the CPU socket and thus cooler . As usual, the IDE and floppy ports are on the edge of the mainboard, where they can be easily reached. Only when using the raid controller cannot all six PCI slots be fully equipped. This is understandable, however, since there is simply no more space for the additional connections in the upper half of the boardwould have been.

P4B266-E Board2
P4B266-E Power-Connector
P4B266-E CPU socket

The seat of the game port connection on the Board up. It is located to the left of the first PCI slot, so that you can no longer use it when you connect the game port. But what is positive about it? From the outset there will hardly be anyone who will use the first PCI slot. On the one hand because the AGP slot is right next to it and it is usually installed by the graphics card fan anyway, and on the other hand it is 'shared' with the AGP slot. If Asus had placed the connection next to another PCI slot, another slot would be omitted. This only applies to the first PCI slot, which is usually unused anyway. With the abundance of six PCI slots, nobody should run into an acute slot shortage.

But before we go any longer We want to go into more detail about the features that have already been touched on.

The onboard Promise ATA/133 Raid, NEC USB 2.0 controller and C-Media 6-channel CMI8783 sound chip should be particularly noticeable . The NEC USB 2.0 controller in particular is a special feature. With this controller, Asus is able to offer USB 2.0 despite the ICH2. And you do this very consistently. In addition to the two external USB 2.0 ports on the back of the board, the P4B266-E comes with a slot cover that provides two more USB 2.0 ports. Most other mainboard suppliers are currently doing without this USB 2.0 controller from NEC for cost reasons, as itis not exactly cheap to buy. You are waiting for the ICH4, in which the USB 2.0 support is already integrated.

P4B266-E connections
P4B266-E Raid
P4B266-E game and USB module

The C-Media 6-channel audio chip does its job very well and, compared to a software-based calculation using the AC97 codec, of course offers the advantage that it relieves the CPU of a lot of calculation work, especially for multimedia applications does not load the processor unnecessarily. Fortunately, the P4B266-E comes with a slot cover that leads the S/PDIF input and output to the outside. Optical connections are not offered, however. Nevertheless, as a home user, you should consider whether you need an additional sound card for this equipment. I don't see a really obvious reason for this, unless you want to do professional audio editing.

P4B266-E chipset
P4B266-E socket and chipset

Onboard 10/100MBit Lan is now part of almost every current mainboard and of course it shouldn't be missing on the P4B266-E either. Since the ICH2 has this feature built in, it would be a waste not to use it. An additionalNetwork card is absolutely unnecessary here. The integrated Intel Pro/100 VE adapter performs its service absolutely reliably and without errors.

Another feature that is available with More and more motherboard manufacturers are being introduced, is called 'EZ Plug' at Asus. This is simply a power connection built into the mainboard that makes the use of the 2x2-pin ATX12V connector unnecessary. If you connect a normal 4-pin power connection of the power supply to the 'EZ-Plug', you no longer need a Pentium4-compatible power supply. Our attempts to boot completely without one of the two ports failed. One of the two additional power sources has to be made available to the processor.

'Asus Update' offers the user the simple flashing of the BIOS under Windows, which some anxious minds might tempt one or the other time should bring your bios up to date. In connection with “Asus MyLogo” you also have the option of integrating your own logo into the BIOS, which is displayed when booting. Asus provides a small selection of ready-made images on the driver CD. The boot logo function can of course be deactivated and activated via the BIOS.

The 'Asus Post Reporter' finally puts an end to the simple beep codes of the BIOS in the event of errors that occur during power-on -Self-test (POST) occur. Unlike other manufacturers, who output the errors via a debug card, Asus outputs the error or other system messages via voice messages (Vocal POST messages). These messages are normally output in English, but the driver CD includes a program with which you can either output these messages in another language or create them completely yourself. Unfortunately, there is not a separate text for each message in the German language sentence, as there is not enough memory space for this. We like themEnglish messages but also best. However, if there are no problems with booting, most users will probably deactivate the 'Post Reporter' in the BIOS, as voice messages such as 'System completed Power-On Self Test. Computer now booting from operating system ”can become a bit annoying in the long run. We simply recommend activating the 'Post Reporter' only if errors occur while booting.

On Another feature is the so-called “Chassis open alarm lead”, which, in conjunction with the correct chassis, is intended to prevent unauthorized opening and removal of components.

We would also like to briefly address the APIC function in the BIOS. When choosing the interrupt mode, you can choose between PIC and APIC. If you opt for PIC (Programmable Interrupt Controller), the board only has the usual 16 interrupts available. With the APIC (Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller) function, more interrupts than the normal 16 can be used. IRQs in the regions from 20-24 are no longer uncommon.

The only criticism on the supplied support CD is that the installation of the USB 2.0 controller and the 6-channel sound does not run automatically , but must be done via the device manager. In addition to the non-self-installing drivers for USB 2.0 and 6-channel sound, the CD only contains ReadMEs that explain how the installation must be carried out. All other components can be easily installed from the support CD menu.

P4B266-E connections2
P4B266-E board
P4B266-E IDE and RAM

On the equipment of the P4B266-E you can hardly fault anything. The board draws on the full and leaves nothing to be desired. From Lan, Sound, Raid and USB 2.0, everything that has rank and name is represented on the board and typical for Asus, the board has other features that should make work easier.

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