ASUS was one of the first motherboard manufacturers to release a Slot-1 Natoma (440FX) Based motherboard back in May, the KN97-X. Over 5 months and two chipsets later, ASUS is back and this time they are boasting a LX based mammoth with full support for the 75 and 83.3MHz bus speeds, a huge jump from the horrible support for only the 60 and 66MHz bus speeds found in the KN97-X.


Motherboard Specifications

Socket Style: Slot-1
Chipset: i82440LX
Cache: N/A (On Chip)
Form Factor: ATX
BUS Speeds: 66 / 68 / 75 / 83 MHz
Clock Multipliers: 1.5x - 4.5x
Voltages Supported: 1.5v - 3.5v (Auto Detect)
RAM Slots: 3 168pin DIMM Slots (EDO/ECC/SDRAM)
AGP/PCI/ISA Slots: 1 AGP Slot
5 PCI Slots
2 ISA Slots (1 Shared / 2 Full Length)
BIOS: AWARD PnP BIOS w/ Jumperless CPU Setup
PCI EIDE Controller: Super I/O
2 EIDE Channels
1 FDD Channel
2 Serial /1 EPP

 


The Good

ASUS has always been an excellent motherboard manufacturer, they were among the pioneers of the 83MHz bus speed back in the days of the T2P4, and they quickly jumped on the Socket-8 bandwagon with the release of Intel's Pentium Pro. Now, years since ASUS first proved to the world that they are not a dilettante newcomer to the market, they are back again, this time packing a much larger punch than before equipped with the raw power of Intel's LX chipset.

The layout of the P2L97 hasn't changed much since the KN97-X, however the number and location of the expansion slots has changed. The Slot-1 is now located directly in the path of the P/S Fan as the ATX Specification States, and the DIMM slots have been moved to the edge of the motherboard closest to the expansion bays. The footprint of the P2L97 is pretty much standard for an ATX Pentium II board, and unlike models from AOpen and Megatrends, the P2L97 leaves much "breathing room" when installed in a Mid-Tower Enlight 7230 case.

Like most other LX motherboards, the P2L97 features a completely jumperless CPU setup included with the excellent AWARD PnP BIOS configuration utility. Along with the basic setup options the P2L97 also boasts a wide variety of "intelligent mainboard" features now commonly found in most high quality motherboards. Among these features are the standard APM options as well as a few unique additions ASUS decided to include such as an Automatic Power Up Setting that allows the user to set a certain time or date on which the system will power up automatically. A useful feature if you always power up your system at the same time each day (i.e. if you always turn your system on at 6AM to prepare for an update to a certain hardware testing page =) ) or if you just want to scare the cat who likes sleeping on your computer desk. Either way, ASUS paid quite a bit of attention to the little details that please us all. And what ASUS motherboard would be complete without a few hardware monitoring features? With the P2L97's built in Fan, Thermal, and Voltage Monitors as well as its support for ECC SDRAM it quickly becomes a viable option for do or die server situations. If you want a motherboard that is stable and isn't prone to crash, even when overclocking, then I suggest you look at the P2L97.

Another classic mark of an ASUS motherboard is the extremely detailed and thorough user's manual. Although it doesn't provide some critical information about the Chipset Features Setup of the BIOS (like most other motherboard manuals) its detailed pictures and diagrams make the overall experience with the product a positive one. ASUS has also bundled a support CDROM with the P2L97 which contains the Intel LanDesk Client Manager as well as a Demonstration MPEG Video in addition to some other useful utilities.

At all clock speeds tested the P2L97 proved to be an excellent performer, from the 233MHz setting to the blazing fast 375MHz daemon setting the P2L97 was on par with the competition while holding its ground pretty well. As mentioned before, the P2L97 isn't prone to crash which is mainly a result of its 18 mid size capacitors at work.

This Just In: I did manage to get the ATI 3D Rage Pro (AGP) card to work with the P2L97, it wasn't working as a cause of an error on my part. The performance with the 3D Rage Pro is not bad at all, which makes this board an even better value.

The Bad

Expansion on the P2L97 isn't encouraged, although it features an abundant 5 PCI slots, the 2 ISA slots and 3 DIMM slots limit your expansion considerably. The 3 DIMM slots limit your memory expansion to a maximum of 384MB of RAM (like the KN97-X) however that is when you are using 128MB SDRAM DIMMs which most people don't have laying around. So in reality (for most people that is) the physical memory capacity of the P2L97 is 3 - 64MB SDRAM DIMMs, or 192MB of RAM, which simply isn't taking advantage of the Pentium II's 512MB Cacheable memory area...although 192MB is more than enough for most users. It is all dependent on the user's needs.

 


Recommended SDRAM

This little addition to my review layout was put in here just so you all can have an idea of what brand of SDRAM I recommend and have tested
with the board, just to avoid problems in the future if you decide to purchase the board.

Recommended SDRAM: Advanced Megatrends SDRAM; Corsair SDRAM; SmarTech SDRAM
SDRAM Tested: 2 x 32MB Advanced Megatrends SDRAM DIMMs; 2 x 32MB SmarTech SDRAM DIMMs; 2 x 32MB Corsair SDRAM DIMMs

Manufacturer: Corsair Microsystems

Purchase Web-Site: http://www.nf-ny.com

 


IRQ Usage

  • Allows user to individually set IRQs for each Legacy ISA card

  • Allows user to enable the use of an IRQ for PS/2 mouse

  • Allows user to reserve IRQ/DMA Channels if necessary

  • Auto-detects PnP Cards after HDD Detection

The Test

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