ASUS P3C 2000 Camino Board - Page 3

Feature-Wise

Here’s an overview of the features and specs of the motherboard.  Some more insignificant ones have been omitted.

  • INTEL Celeron, PII, PIII, Coppermine support
  • INTEL 820 Chipset: Includes both Memory Controller Hub and I/O Controller Hub with support for AGP 4X; UltraDMA-66 support and INTEL Random Number generator.
  • 04 x DIMM slots: Supports PC100-compliant SDRAM (up to 1GB)
  • AGP Pro Slot: This card supports AGP 1X, 2X and 4X mode transfers
  • UltraDMA-66 Support: Comes with onboard PCI Bus Master IDE controller with 2 connectors for up to 4 IDE devices on 2 channels. Supports UDMA66/33(Mode 2), PIO Modes 3&4. 
  • JumperFree mode: Allows processor settings and easy overclocking of FSB and Vcore voltage all through BIOS setup when JumperFree mode enabled.  For manual adjustment, DIP switches have also been provided.
  • SMBus: Features the System Management Bus interface, which is used to physically transport commands and info between SMBus devices.
  • PC Health Monitoring: Via software
  • AMR Slot
  • 5 PCI Slots & 1 ISA Slot
  • Smart BIOS: 4Mb firmware contains hardware number generator supporting new security software for data protection and secured Internet transactions
  • IrDA: Supports optional infrared port module for wireless transfer
  • Concurrent PCI: Allows multiple PCI transfers from PCI master buses to the memory and processor
  • Suspend and Go: Suspend-to-RAM (STR) provides maximum power savings, with complementing QuickStart capability to reduce bootup times.
  • Fan Status, Temperature, Voltage, System Resources monitoring and alert utilities in BIOS
  • Message LED (requires ACPI OS support): Act as an indicator of the system’s current state.
  • Dual Function Power Button: Can define Power button as Standby (Suspend / sleep) or Soft-Off. 

The inclusion of an AGP Pro slot warrants further elaboration. This slot is typically an extension of your regular AGP 2.0 specs-based version, with additional power pins for future higher-end graphics cards.

Theoretically, it supports cards that dissipate up to 110W of power! Hmmm…. I guess with current GeForce chips already sporting comparable number of transistors to Athlons, this isn’t a far-fetched scenario.


The “Big Bro” of AGP…

Besides sporting FSB settings via Soft BIOS, the P3C2000 also allows manual CPU external frequency selection via 5 DIP switches onboard. Up to 29 frequency settings are selectable, ranging from 100 to 180MHz at 2-3MHz increments! The DIP switches are thankfully located at an accessible location, such that one won’t be hard-pressed to make adjustments. Also, it should be noted that to control FSB via the Soft BIOS, all DIP switches should be set to the “OFF” positions. But practically, it is debatable whether having both options is overkill.


A large set of FSB possibilities with these DIP switches

However, the board does have a major quirk of its own, lest you may think otherwise. One irritating and anomalous feature is the restrictions that the board imposes on your SDRAM configurations.

The board comes with a generous set of 4 DIMM slots, 2 more than what Camino officially supports. To circumvent this 2 DIMM slot liability, ASUS apparently had to perform some serious re-engineering and limit memory configurations pretty severely.  I’ve summarized the general limitations below:

  • Only 64MB / 128MB sticks of SPD DIMM modules are allowed
  • If more than one socket is to be populated, it must be in order such that the first socket has the highest DIMM module (ie. DIMM1 ³ DIMM2 ³ DIMM3 ³ DIMM4); Also, total mem size of DIMM1 + DIMM3 must be ³ DIMM2 + DIMM4
  • The motherboard is also very picky and actually differentiates between Single-sided DIMMs and Double-sided DIMMS.  There is a table in the manual that lists out predefined arrangements to follow for users with more than 1 DIMM module.  Furthermore, there are times where you’ll have to literally forego some DIMM modules once they don’t fall within those defined configurations (eg. if you have 1 Single-Sided(SS) + 3 Double-Sided(DS) DIMM config, only 2 out of the 4 DIMM modules can be used??)

As a side note, it should be pointed out that the MTH only officially supports PC100 SDRAM. Hence, even by using overclocked FSBs above 133MHz, the board will limit the SDRAM speed to a max of 133MHz.

Of course, the board has other redeeming constructs worthy of mention.

  1. Voltage I/O setting: This jumper setting caters for a higher voltage output to the DRAM, chipset, AGP and PCI slots to assist in overclocking purposes.
  2. MCH/MTH Voltage selection: This jumper allows a higher voltage to be supplied to the CPU’s I/O buffer to improve overclocking capabilities.
  3. Safe Mode Setting: Mainly to reset CPU multiplier to 2 and 100MHz FSB on bootup, in case of excessive overclocking (via BIOS) that arrests boot-up capability for older Slot 1 CPUs with unlocked multipliers.
  4. Automatic Timeout Reboot Setting: On detection of a hang (timeout), the motherboard attempts to reboot.  One can then set the jumper to “No Reboot” after several repetitive reboots that fail.  The system will then boot up in Safe Mode by default.
  5. SMBus Connector: This connector allows one to connect SMBus (System Management Bus) devices.  SMBus devices communicate via the SMBus with a SMBus host and/or other SMBus devices. Multiple chips can be connected to the same bus and each one can act as a master by initiating data transfer.

Guess ASUS have really outdone themselves once again with the P3C-2000, as in the K7M I reviewed previously. It definitely has the potential to be a Camino overclocker’s dream board!  But we’ll see later, how practical these features really turn out.

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