by August 10, 2001 0 comments



Kobian is a fairly well known brand in India whose USP has been aggressive pricing. The 850 FSX is an ATX motherboard based on the Intel 850 chipset, which also happens to be the only chipset for the P4 processor. The board we got for reviewing was a beta version with no manuals or cables (the retail version will have them).

The Intel 850 chipset, also known as Tehama, comprises two main chips: MCH (Memory Controller Hub) 82850, and ICH (I/O Controller Hub) 82801BA. There are four RDRAM slots and during our tests we found that the board works only when alternate slots are occupied, if not all.

Kobian 850 FSX Motherboard


Price:
Rs 8,000; warranty: 1 year

Features:
i850 chipset, 2 GB memory support, five PCI and one CNR slot

Pros:
Inexpensive

Cons:
Poor performance in high-end applications, 3D games

Contact:
Rohit, Kobian India. Tel: 080-2257300, 2380734, Fax: 2257303. A 402, Queens Corner Apartment, 3, Queens Road, Bangalore 560001.
E-mail:
rohit@kobian.com
RQS 

PC600 and PC800 RDRAM support is provided, and the board can take a maximum of 2 GB of memory. There are two PS/2 ports for connecting your keyboard and mouse, and also two onboard USB ports. A USB header is also provided in case you need more ports. Possibly the shipping version of the board will come with connectors with two USB ports for this header. There are a total of five PCI, one CNR and one 4x AGP Pro slots. The board also has onboard AC97 audio. There are two IDE channels with support for Ultra DMA 66/100.

One of the most significant, but least stressed, aspect of all P4 motherboards is that they need a special power supply. For example, the Kobian 850 FSX has the usual main power connector plus two additional auxiliary-power connectors that must be also connected for the board to function. This means that you need to buy an SMPS specially designed for P4 motherboards. The P4 heatsink is also quite unique in that instead of latching on to the socket on which the processor sits, the heatsink sits on two brackets which keeps it right above the processor and at the same time take its weight off the CPU, thus protecting it from damage.

Finally, we come to the motherboard’s performance. All tests were done using a 1.7 GHz P4 processor, 128 MB RDRAM and a 7200 rpm IBM hard drive. We compared it to an original Intel 850 motherboard using the same setup. We ran Business Winstone 2001 for testing productivity and Content Creation Winstone 2001 for graphics applications. It scored 43 in Business Winstone 2001, which is quite good, and was in fact a point higher than the Intel board. However, the board took a hit in Content Creation Winstone, where it only managed to score 41.4 as against 44.5 scored by the Intel board. We also did a processor test on both boards to see how effectively they utilize it, using the 3D Winbench 2000 processor test. Interestingly, the Mercury board scored 2.72, compared to 2.79 scored by the Intel board. Scores in the graphics and gaming part of 3D Winbench 2000 however stood the same in both boards at 124. Finally, we ran Quake III on both boards to see gaming performance. Here too the average frame rates given by the Intel board were 10 points higher than the Mercury board, standing at 146 fps.

Overall, the board’s performance is average. However, this is compensated by its lucrative price tag when it hits the market. At Rs 8,000, it will be one of the cheapest P4 boards around. It will ship with a warranty of one year.

Anuj Jain for PCQ Labs

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