|FCPGA motherboard for Celeron and PIII processors. Rs 8,450
Features: Supports PIII and Celeron; FSB of 66,100,133 MHz; 4x AGP; onboard sound
Pros: Good performance with older drivers; lots of room for expansion.
Source: Zeta Technologies
A/2 , Shreeji Niketan
541/D, Dr Ambedkar Raod Matunga (C. R.)
Tel: 22-4102288 Fax: 4102277
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.zetaindia.com
Like the CUBX motherboard, this one can also house either a PIII or a Celeron processor in its FCPGA slot. It uses the VIA Apollo Pro133Z chipset and has support for 133 MHz FSB in addition to 66 and 100 MHz. So, you can put PC-100 or PC-133 compliant SDRAM. It can also support the fastest SDRAM available, known as HSDRAM (High speed DRAM). It supports a maximum of 1.5 GB of RAM in its three DIMM slots.
PCI slots remain at an ample five, along with one ISA and an AMR slot. The motherboard also has support for the new 4x AGP cards. The model we received for review had audio onboard, although without audio is also available. Installing the board is hassle-free, with all the ports being color-coded. The manual is also very comprehensive.
We used the same set of specs to test the CUV4X as for the CUBX—PIII/700 MHz and Celeron 500 MHz processors, 64 MB SDRAM, and a Creative GeForce AGP card with 32 MB VRAM. We also ran the same set of benchmarks—Business Winstone99 for productivity applications, 3DWinbench99 for graphics performance, and Quake III Arena and Intel Game Launcher for gaming performance. The CUV4X was slightly lower than the CUBX in Business Winstone99—at 20.2 with a Celeron and 25.3 with a PIII CPU. However, in graphics performance, the board actually gave much lower scores than the CUBX motherboard. This was 617 for the Celeron and 910 PIII in 3D Winbench99. Similarly, Quake III Arena gave 39-35 fps with Celeron and 60-42 fps with the PIII. IGL gave scores of 91, 125, and 92 with the Celeron and 218, 338, and 162 with a PIII in the three games. All these were lower than the corresponding scores of the CUBX.
For a board that’s more feature-rich than the CUBX, this large difference came as a shocking surprise. After lots of research and hunting around, we came across a similar issue with another VIA chipset motherboard—the Asus P3V4X. There, when the drivers for the chipset were upgraded, the motherboard’s performance dropped considerably. Feeling that this might be the case with our motherboard too, we changed its drivers to an older version—from the current VIA 4-in-1 drivers version 4.2 to the 4.17 version. Unfortunately, these drivers are not available on the Asus or VIA Websites. Luckily, we had a P3V4X motherboard that had come for review (see page 184 in this issue), and the older drivers were available with it.
The motherboard’s performance soared with the older drivers. With the PIII, in Quake III at 600x800 resolution and 16-bit color depth, we were able to get frame rates of 81 fps as compared to the earlier 60 fps. In IGL, the scores improved to 264, 352, 162 as compared to a previous 218, 338, 210 for Dispatched, Iron Strategy and Battlezone II respectively.
These numbers are still less compared to the CUBX, but are nevertheless pretty good. And considering that it costs less than the CUBX, and supports 133 MHz FSB as well, it’s a good buy. You will, however, need the older VIA chipset drivers to see it in action, so check with your vendor for them.
The motherboard comes bundled with Asus PC Probe 2.11, PC-Cillin98 anti-virus software, audio drivers, Yamaha XG Studio, and Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.