ASUS P3B-F - Page 9

The Good
The P3B-F is a rock-solid board that coupled with the detailed user's manual, provides a hassle-free installation right from the start. The smaller frame and neater component arrangement as compared to the BX6-2 makes it aesthetically more pleasing. The inclusion of JumperFree is a welcome and much-awaited feature to ASUS' line of motherboards. In addition, the new Award 6.0 BIOS makes navigation in the BIOS much simpler due to the informative text-box available. The PC'99 compliant ports allow better visual identification of the various ports. There is no question that the P3B-F is a well-engineered board that deserves to join the ranks of its much acclaimed brethrens.

The Bad
Unfortunately, I find no compelling reason to recommend the P3B-F over my veteran BX6-2 or even the older P2B-F. Firstly, the P3B-F is a comparatively costly board. I think part of that price difference is due to additional frills such as the various Wake-On functions, different means to change FSB/voltage settings, the onboard LED et cetera. However, I believe these extras serve no particular purpose to the mainstream user and would not matter if they were omitted. Personally, the lack of a 117 MHz FSB setting means that I can only reach 517MHz on the P3B-F when a 527MHz can be easily achieved on the BX6-2. The lack of onboard UDMA/66 support is a huge disappointment given its recent introduction. There is no way I will fork out extra money and waste a valuable PCI slot on an Ultra ATA/66 controller when there are similarly priced boards in the market that provide similar onboard support. If you are on the phase of upgrading, it will be difficult to recommend the P3B-F.

Conclusion
The P3B-F is a decent board with several interesting new features but really begs the more important ones. It is a good motherboard and performs smoothly without problems but definitely is not a cut above the rest. There is nothing distinct such as step by step FSB adjustment or a setting similarly flexible to allow a much larger range of overclocked speeds. The lack of onboard UDMA/66 support will place the P3B-F behind newly released boards which have it. The bottomline is that there is not much to separate the P3B-F from the rest of the pack. Sad to say, if keeping up with the Joneses is something which you want to and should be doing, the P3B-F is unlikely to be on your wish list.

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