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ASUS CUSL2 - burning @ 185FSB :


 

Burningissues still can't put together an ordinary motherboard review:

- our Paris correspondent sent us this - our favourite bit is where we learn an Adaptec PCI-host "declared itself MUCH faster than usual" - this was at - er - 46MHz PCI-bus . . . . . .


My VERY Personal Test and Comparison of the two Main Boards:

1. Soyo SY-7VCA ....... with Via Apollo Pro 133A chipset ....(rather short one) ...... and

2. Asus CUSL2 ..... with i815E Solano chipset (INTEL)

Why words "Very Personal" ? ......... let me explain that point because as you'll see further it is (possibly?) the very first attempt to present the tests and comparisons in the entirely different manner. Serious tests, and especially comparisons between the hardware equipment, are done nowadays by qualified people, on the rather high and educated technical level with succession of measures and time consuming testing and probing, the more or less complicated graphics and pictures of details, the deliberately provoked controlled errors, observation of the results as impartially as possible, which has for the aim to inform and (what's more), to convince the readers of it's impartiality and total dedication and seriousness .............Sometimes from the empirical, sometimes from VERY commercial reasons.

It's enough to visit practically ANY of the today's hardware sites to be able to understand what I am talking about. In all that "jazz" there, exists ONE very important "forgotten dimension" ....... our personal expectation and it's implications FOR US, final users, our personal point of view, by treating the "trivia" and little details important for us, as well as all "emotional" likes and dislikes so often forgotten by serious testers. That's why before we finally buy the desired main board, card or burner...........we go VERY often straight to the end of the written tests, where one can generally find the "Conclusions and the ratings" in few simple words........and the rest we have to find ourselves anyway by practice, as well as experience it personally ..............after the purchase!

So much about the explanations.....I hope it wasn't too long. Now let's go back to my "Very Personal" UN-tech test. The future will show if you've enjoyed it and if it was worth the try. Buying the new main board is always a main event. About two month ago I've decided to take this step and to offer myself the new and modern main board. After consulting my friends, I choose the SOYO SY-7VCA board and its Via Apollo 133A chipset. We were so long deprived the real changes during the rein of BX, and the early i820 disaster, that I simply couldn't resist it. Here are my impressions concerning the SOYO:

Model I've ordered, SY-7VCA came very complete, with its cables and CD-Rom, (though VERY abbreviated manual!), 3 softs: VIRTUAL Drive, CD Virus, and Ghost, as well as 2 temperature probes, one at the CPU (on-die thermal diode). (In some countries the accessories might differ).

The first impression was reassuring though I've seen better overall quality of finish. The load of new functions took some time to digest. What I've liked:   

- No-jumper selectable sets of system and PCI clock speeds selectable directly in BIOS  

- CPU configurations possibilities   

- Adjustable CPU core voltage  

- CPU on-die thermal diode temperature monitoring system   

- CPU fan speed control   

- ECC and 1.5Gb memory support!

What I've liked less..........or much less:   

- SOYO AI-BIOS (rather complicated and difficult to figure-out)  

- Original BIOS (it was necessary to download the newest one.......4 versions already!)   

- So called "Bus mastering PCI slots". (I had to place my SCSI card on the third place anyway)   

- Disastrous SDRAM Memory management with its original BIOS (v. 2AA3 May 2000 ......little.... and much better with the following successive versions.)   

- 4 useless "diagnostic LEDs"......(???)  

- Badly placed DIMM sockets (MUCH to low...serious bother for the AGP video card !)   

- Useless (actually?) AMR slot........one more PCI slot instead would be much better !)  

- Erratic behavior during the configuration .......... (PnP approximative !)

Well.........I have to admit (if you didn't guess it already), that I didn't fall under the charm of SOYO main board. The Via Apollo Pro 133A chipset (PM 133+ 686A) is not as stable and forgiving like the good old BX was .........the memory configuration is difficult and selective (attention! not to mix the single and double side DIMM's! In so called "SDRAM Interleave mode" make sure you have at least TWO single sided modules or one double sided one!), the three sockets are having evident synchronization problems, and while the first one can (just CAN?) accept your DIMM........it doesn't mean that the second and the third will do the same ... (or sometimes yes ..... and sometimes no)... Hard...hard! The most important of all in this sad situation is the fact that it takes TIME, TIME and again TIME, to find out all those "little" problems......and your bad feelings (not always rational...true!) are growing! After all is finally adjusted and set............card is fairly stable and runs correctly......but not my heart anymore............I've seen enough and I wanted to change it ASAP...........PRONTO!

Back to the telephone and Fax. The man (actually VERY nice and helpful girl!), at the other end admitted that there were "some" slight problems.......but they are on the way of being resolved by BIOS updates, and ANYWAY the other card SOYO SY-7VMA (Via 694X chipset.....slightly different from 686A of SY-7VCA), took already care of it.......and now ALL IS WELL!

Well ... (nice girl apart) .... you can believe them or not, (probably rather YES....???), but I've had enough and demanded the change of board..... and the brand, which was done out of hand without any problem ........and 24 hours later I was keeping in my hands new and shiny ASUS CUSL2.

Here are my initial (only about 2 weeks of using !!), "hot" remarks and evaluations: First of all ..... I like the CUSL2. Admitting that..... this report has to be biased! Granted! But there is more. Board comes well packed and really very complete. All is there. Cables, temperature probes, additional USB ports card, manual (very complete and detailed) ......and CDROM as well. The BIOS is "only" 2 versions behind (original one is v.1002 .... but you can download up to v.1002.005 and 1003.000 already)........so everything is nearly perfect. Besides that, the finish is as close to perfection as I've ever seen. .....and now let's look at the layout:

First thing I've noticed is the distance of DIMM sockets from the AGP socket..............Video card is not bothered by the DIMM's clickets anymore.......there is ample space. Important point......especially that the AGP socket is in it's "Super Pro4" version.......that means, ready to accept the new standard of the AGP cards, and that's why so much longer. Don't worry, the compatibility with the actual standard AGP 1 and 2 is maintained. Three outlets for the fans are provided.......and that is not too many as you'll find out very soon.

"Crucial" 133Mhz CAS2 DIMM's once installed were simply forgotten. Complete stability and never any problem. Nothing to say ... except ............ except that the very first attempt at overclocking with my other CPU PIII 600Mhz EB gave the following results: - 832Mhz (185x4.5) with CPU at 185Mhz (1.8Volt) - memory at 139Mhz - And the PCI bus at 46Mhz  .............exemplary stability and support of the CDClone...... JUST great!

The ECC memory is not supported by i815 Solano, (but who needs it anyway).

After burning the copy of "Gabriel Knight 3" (4 CD) .....VERY FAST (only first CD protected by Safedisk), "The Longest Journey" (4CD...slightly modified Safedisk protection), and "Atlantis2" from CRYO (Classic Securom.....also 4CD), I'll wait patiently until I'll have time to make some serious tests with the PIII 733Mhz.

Looks like if you need the perfect board for overclocking, CUSL2 is your dish as ASUS offer the incredible amount of frequencies and settings, CPU, PCI, memories and the voltages (1.5 - 1.95) ...... and one finds on the board as well the manual jumper permitting the change of the voltage to the eventual additional cards.

Three voltages are proposed: 3.3v(default), 3.5v and 3.6v.......paradise! I rarely saw the main board so stable and ready for the "Burning Issues".... and that's what interests us the most. The overclocked 600EB and 733Mhz (at nominal speed) both were steady like a rock during all the burning phases. CloneCD was very happy with ASUS, and the CDRWin, and HotburnPro as well. (Three softs I use in permanence).

Seems as well that Adaptec SCSI card declares itself MUCH faster then usual, and the scan of SCSI chain was almost instantaneous (I have connected DVD, 3 CDROM writers and readers..........2HD and Iomega ZIP) ........... life at last become pleasant and easy!

With the Windows ME installed, I didn't have ONE single problem during the next 14 days. I liked a little bit less the configuration of the graphic card (Nothing is perfect on this world). There is no major problem, but to be able to declare it you have to boot the comp with onboard video (Obligatory!) ...... then in Windows manager declare and change to your graphic card (in my case the Xentor32Mo NVidia) and reboot the comp.

Board doesn't recognize anything else than its own video initially..........too bad! What is evident at once, (just after installation of the board), that everything is "somehow more fluid" if I may say so (?)......... Steady, soft, easy................and FAST! So much my friends for my first personal impressions concerning the CUSL2 i815Solano ASUS main board. As I've said it's a VERY personal report. For those who can't live without the serious tech testing and graphics........here are some addresses:

http://www.asus.co.jp/Products/Techref/Faq/mbmm/mb20009.html

http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.html?i=1291&p=7

http://www.tomshardware.com/mainboard/00q2/000525/socket370-14.html

http://www.soyo.com;tw/product/7vca.htm

I will not do them from two main reasons.................first, they are time and resources consuming, and second ......they're boring and unnecessary...........at least for me. What I want to know..... (and I want to know it fast !), is what the board represents for me personally. How it behaves, how fast it works with given CPU and memory ........and how it reacts to the "Burning Issues" and its problems. All the rest can be found somewhere else.............done much better, by much more qualified people, who have the patience and passion for those things I would never be able to muster. As a conclusion, I can only say: CUSL2 is the best board I've ever seen up to now. It's a pleasure to set and to run, and it's steady as a rock as a burning platform............rest is up to you! Take care.................Constantin   

 

 

copyright Constantin October 2000 for Burningissues.net - all rights reserved

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