a standard Pentium II/III motherboard is all most
people really will ever need. Those who prefer to
build their own system rather than buying a
pre-made one usually don't care what motherboard is
inside their PC, but for those of us who know the
only real way to get a decent system is to make one
ourselves, the motherboard counts. ASUS was always
the first to support most new Intel chipsets,
specifically the 440BX. This motherboard is about a
year old, and still one of the most popular on the
market for the mainstream purchaser. Although Abit
has taken a decent chunk of change from ASUS, the
ASUS P2B-F is one of the top selling 440BX Single
Slot 1 motherboards on the market. Shouldn't it be
both in the top rankings and be a great
motherboard? Let's find out.
Besides all the normal specs, the ASUS P2B-F comes
equipped with 5 PCI Slots, 2 ISA Slots (one shared)
as well as the standard AGP 2x slot. Its layout is
compact and it's obvious that time was spent making
the board as "compact" as can be since most of the
PCB is covered by stuff all over. The 4 DIMM slots
are present and high up enough not to bother
anything. You'll also note the AWARD bios (which
means jumpers for all settings, not BIOS CPU
selection and such), as well as the great Winbond
chip for thermal monitoring. Besides that, it's
just a standard run of the mill motherboard with
dual IDE ports, dual USB ports, serial ports,
The layout is one of the most important factors of
a motherboard to me. I want something easy to
install, configure, and get working. Jumpers aren't
something I like, it's quite obvious why - they are
a pain to configure, and just take extra time. Most
BIOS' support jumperless settings now, but the ASUS
P2B-F didn't decide to take advantage of that.
Admittedly there aren't really that many jumpers to
set, and the manual is pretty up to date and even
included Pentium III settings at the time we got
the board. Usually motherboard manufacturers never
update their manuals with new CPU voltages and
jumper settings, so this was a welcome surprise.
Although their manual wasn't as detailed as the
Abit ones, it was quite well documented. ATX Power
supply connectors were neatly placed at the top of
the board by the PS/2 ports, while the CPU stayed
out of the way of everything, and was perfectly
positioned for power supply fans to blow across it.
The only two layout items that disappointed us were
the location of the floppy drive and memory spots.
In the pictures to follow, you'll notice that the
floppy drive connector is wedged between the top
two PCI slots. Not really a huge deal, however if
you have a floppy drive on the top of a mid-tower
or full-tower case the chances of the cable being
long enough to reach are slim to none. If you have
a floppy drive that mounts under the 5.25" bays
then this shouldn't be a concern. The last
annoyance came with the DIMM placements. The first
two DIMM sockets plastic connectors that hold the
RAM in place will interfere with your AGP video
card if you have to open them up to swap out RAM.
Not annoying if you are building a system that
never will change, but those who do RAM upgrades
frequently (which is pretty common) will find this
the negativity above, the motherboard layout is
quite solid compared to most. We've seen some
really wack layouts in our time; this is one of the
stronger ones. One thing I particularly liked is
how the capacitors were almost non-existent on the
board. Given they were present, they were just out
of the way where they won't be noticed. That, and
the BIOS chip and battery don't hog space like most
boards do. The dual IDE ports are lined up
perfectly for hard drive/CDROM connection as well.
Overall I was pleased with the layout.
The install was pretty painless. Mount, strap
(jumpering the motherboard), and power it on. We
were pleased to see three FAN connectors for
three-pin case fans and a CPU fan. Most boards only
employ two, and really cheap boards employ one.
Getting the ASUS P2B-F to work was not a problem at
all. A neat little trick ASUS did with the Slot 1
slot is the flip-up Slot 1 holders (The little
rails that stick upward that is). Usually you have
to screw in 4 screws on the bottom to hold the
rails in, but with the ASUS P2B-F they had them
pre-installed, which will flip up and down just
with a little pressure. It almost makes up for the
time lost on strapping the motherboard.
regards to performance, it was pretty stable
overall. Overclocking a 300A to 450 worked just as
easy as it did on an Abit BH6 (unless you need to
tweak the core voltage), and it was stable most all
of the time. Pentium III 500s had no problem firing
up, and Celeron 466/500s worked stable in the board
with a MSI 6905 v1.1 Converter Card in there. Quite
pleased with stability nonetheless.
were no compatibility problems at all. As with all
Intel 440BX-based boards, a TNT2 worked (Super 7
boards usually have trouble). There wasn't any
performance gain or loss compared to fps averages
either compared to other motherboards.
The ASUS P2B-F is just a good solid motherboard.
Not the greatest if severe overclocking is your
game, but the average overclocker shouldn't have
any problems. The bone stock home purchaser will
find this a great quality stable motherboard that
will last as long as they need it. The components
are all strong in quality, the stability is there,
and the features are all present. It's a good buy
if standard is the name of your game.