VIA P4XB-RA RAID P4X266A socket 478

Tuesday, February 26, 2002


Introduction

The VIA P4XB-R and P4XB-RA motherboards are virtually identical on most counts, except for their chipsets. Whereas the P4XB-R uses the VIA P4X266, the P4XB-RA implements the newer P4X266A, which features forwards-compatibility with future Intel Pentium 4 CPUs, which are expected to use quad-pumped 133MHz (533MHz effective) FSB, compared with the 100MHz quad-pumped (400MHz effective) FSBs of the P4s of today.

Still, one question naturally arises: does the P4XB-RA feature any other new refinements under the hood? Let's say we take a look and find out.

Characteristics of the VIA P4XB-RA
CPU
-Supports Intel® Pentium® 4 processor in the 478 pin package.
Chipset
VIA P4X266A VT8753 & VT8233
Form factor
ATX 30.5cm X 24.5cm
Expansion
5 PCI - 0 ISA - 1 CNR - 1 AGP - 6 USB
Memory
3X 184-pin DIMM DDR SDRAM slots for up to 3GB of memory
FSB
100Mhz to 199Mhz in steps of 1Mhz
Vcore adj.
+0.025v to +0.01v in steps of 0.025v
Vio/Dram adjust
Dram 2.5v, 2.56v, 2.6v, 2.65v
Audio chipset
C-Media CMI8738


Audio

The VIA P4XB-RA's sound capabilities are provided by an integrated C-Media CMI8738 audio-chip. The CMI8738 supports 5.1 speaker-configurations, with 6 lines-out, including a central base-line.

From a sound standpoint, the C-Media¨ CMI8738 has very little to envy of other audio-chips. It supports up to 32 polyphonic voices, EAX effects, and supports both Microsoft DirectSound 3D, and Aureal A3D.

As we've mentioned before, the CMI8738 is head and shoulders above the audio circuitry that is typically included as part of most VIA chipsets, and its sound reproduction is simply excellent. Whether you're playing MP3s, CDs, or 3D games, the CMI8738's sound quality will often surprise you with its fidelity.

Unfortunately, VIA did not see fit to provide the RCA or optical jacks that would allow for the treatment of digital or SPDIF signals, though the C-Media chip is quite cable of handling these functions.



Configuration

Overclockers will be delighted to know that the VIA P4XB-RA includes a number of functions that will allow them to tweak the boards many settings.

The "Frequency/Voltage control" BIOS menu, for instance, provides options for setting the clock multiplier to between 8X and 24X, altering the Vcore and DRAM voltages, and adjusting the FSB frequency.

Also within the BIOS, the "Advanced Chipset Features" menu, for its part, features a number of functions that allow users to tweak a wide variety of memory settings.

One of the chief selling points of the P4XB-RA's design, however, is its complete lack of configuration jumpers. Thus, no need for the Overclockers to crack open their computer casings to modify their configuration settings.

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