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THE ASUS P5A-B BABY AT MOTHERBOARD

p5ab.jpg (7457 bytes)The Asus P5A-B Baby AT, Super7 motherboard has too many of one thing and too few of another.   This board has jumpers all over the place.  It is a real hassle to set-it-up as compared to many other boards on the market.  Here is an example of settings required for a 400 Mhz AMD K6-processor and PC-100 memory:

VID0=1-2, VID1=2-3, VID2=1-2, VID3=1-2, VIO0=OPEN, VIO1=1-2
FS0=1-2, FS1=1-2, FS2=1-2, FS3=2-3 
BF0=2-3, BF1=1-2, BF2=2-3

Count 'em.  There are 13 jumper settings!  13 ways to have a problem and 13 things to check.

There are those who want five or more PCI expansion board slots and those like me who want at least three ISA slots.  With 2 ISA, 3 PSI and 1 AGP slots, the P5A-B is a disappointment to both camps.

The P5A-B uses the Ali Aladdin V chipset and Award BIOS.  It is quite flexible with FSB settings ranging from 66-120 Mhz, CPU core voltage setting ranging for 2 - 3.5 volts in .1v increments, and multipliers going from 1.5 to 5.0X.   However, the chipset only supports FSBs up to 100 Mhz.  With this enormous assortment of bus frequency, clock multiplier, and CPU core voltage settings, you should be able to match most, if not all, Cyrix, AMD, and Intel Socket 7 CPU's. 

The motherboard has 512K of 5 ns cache'. There are three, 168-Pin DIMM sockets on the board which can support up to 768 MB; however, the chipset/cache' limits the amount of memory which can be cached to 128 MB.  33 Mhz UDMA is supported.

The layout of the board may present problems with some computer cases.   The CPU, which is located at the front of the board and the right of center, may interfere with disk drives.  One of the chassis mounting holes is right in the middle of the CPU socket!  Which means, if you are going to put a screw through the hole,  you cannot install the CPU and fan before installing the motherboard in the chassis.

Some of the jumpers are hard to get at.  In particular, I had to remove a hard disk in the Enlight mid-tower case I was using to change the clock multiplier jumpers.

The quality of the motherboard looks adequate, but I did not see any tantalum capacitors and there aren't many capacitors inside the CPU socket.  There seems to be an adequate number of electrolytics in the right places; although, I didn't see an abundance, especially around the bus slots.   Those I looked at closely were marked 105C as they are on most quality motherboards.  Silk-screening is fairly good.  Many of the common jumper setting are printed on the board (a feat in and of itself), but they, especially the clock multiplier settings, are difficult to read.  The multiplier settings for the K6-2 do not include processors above 300 Mhz or all of the multiplier settings; e.g., 4X..  However, all of the settings are in the User Manual and available at Asus' Web site.

The board is quite stable with a 300 Mhz K6-2 and WinStoned at 20.6, which is typical for 300 Mhz K6-2, on a Super7 motherboard, with 512K cache', and 64 MB of PC-100 memory.  AMD has certified the board for their 400 Mhz K6-2.

The User Manual is complete, very well written and organized, and is amply supported with pictures and illustrations.

The motherboard supports voltage, fan, and temperature monitoring.   A CD is included with a complete assortment of software and drivers. Intel's LDCM Hardware Monitoring, DMI Browser and Remote Access Utility and ASUS' PC Probe Hardware Monitoring Utility for Single Desktop User are part of the package.

Cables and connectors are typical for a Baby AT motherboard; a PS/2 mouse and cable are included; USDM cables and connectors are not.

Asus has a good Web site, but I found it almost too slow to use during the four days (1/15/99 - 1/18/99) I tested it.

The board is available with with optional on-board audio and 1 MB cache'.

FEATURES

Type

Super7 (Socket 7)

Form  Factor Baby AT
Chipset ALi Aladdin V
   M1541 AGPset
   M1543 Super I/O Controller
Processor Support Intel Pentium Processor: P55C/P54C/P54CS 90MHz~233MHz
Cryix M II: 300MHz ~ 333MHz ,
     6x86MX: PR166+ ~ PR266+MHz
AMD-K6-2, AMD-K6 233MHz ~ 400MHz
Cache' 512K, 5 ns
Memory 3 168-pin DIMM EDO/SDRAM (PC-100 capable) Slots.  768 MB max; 128 MB cached
Expansion Slots 2 ISA, 3 PCI, 1 AGP
I/O 2 Serial, 1 Parallel, 1 PS2 Mouse, 2 USB Headers, FIR TX/RX Header
Front Side Bus Speeds 66, 68, 75, 83, 95, 100, 105, 110, 115, 120 MHz
The chipset does not support frequencies above 100 Mhz.
CPU Clock Multipliers 1.0 - 5.0X in 0.5X increments
CPU Core Voltages 2.0 - 3.5 volts in 0.1 volt increments

Larry


Test Computer:
AMD 300 Mhz K6-2 (100 Mhz FSB) processors, Asus P5A-B motherboard, Award BIOS (v. 1004--the latest at the time of this article), 512K, 5 ns cache', 64 MB PC100 memory, Western Digital AC36400, 6.4 GB, 9.5 ms, EIDE UDMA hard disk, Windows 95, AOpen CD-936E/AKU 36X CD-ROM, Aopen FX-3D sound card, Sigma Designs REALmagic S3 GX PCI video adapter with 4 MB.  Bench marks were run with WinBench 98.

WinBench is a registered trademark or trademark and WinMark is a trademark of Ziff-Davis Inc. in the U.S. and other countries

Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.