Turn off the Ad Banner  

To print: Select File and then Print from your browser's menu.

    -----------------------------------------------
This story was printed from CdrInfo.com,
located at http://www.cdrinfo.com.
-----------------------------------------------


Appeared on: Monday, November 29, 2004
EQS A44P8-MLF


1. Introduction

01 - EQS A44P8-MLF - Introduction

EQS is one of the biggest OEM motherboard manufacturers in Hong Kong. With a wide range of solutions for each socket type and excellent user support, EQS Computers appears to have a very bright and promising future ahead of it.

In this review we'll be looking at the EQS's A44P8-MLF motherboard for socket 478 processors.

The A44P8 is designed on a black PCB which makes the various brightly coloured components stand out producing quite a fancy effect.

The Northbridge

Northbridge

The 9100IGP Pro(RS350) located on the northbridge, provides support for Dual Channel memory, 8xUSB connectors, up to 4 GB of memory and comes with an integrated graphics processor. We were glad to see that EQS makes use of everything the chipset offers. Looking at the graphics processor, the 9100IGP supports DirectX 8.1 effects as do all ATi cards up to the Radeon 9500. This makes it the best choice if you're looking for a low cost solution without entirely giving up on gaming. You'll be able to use the motherboard's IGP with either "lightweight" or slightly outdated 3D games. Of course, don't expect to play Doom 3 with it but you just might be able to get away with playing Half Life 2 in 640x480 resolution.

For those who are looking for more than the standard desktop view, you can connect an extra VGA card on the AGP slot. Assuming that the added card supports dual monitor display, the ATi 9100IGP should co-operate with the extra VGA card and provide an additional, third monitor output.

Southbridge

The southbridge on the A44P8-MLF is powered by ATI's SB300 chipset, codenamed IXP300. This chip provides Serial ATA support for up to two SATA drives that can also be set up as a RAID array with either 0 for data safety or 1 for increased reading/writing speed.

Packaging

The card ships in a maroon coloured package on the front of which you'll find some of its characteristics and a sum up of its software bundle.

The box is also used as the packaging for returning the product back to EQS, in case, God forbid, something terrible happens and the motherboard is no longer operational. To get a replacement, one has to request for an RMA number at EQS's website, fill in the form located on the back of the box and ship it to their HQ in the UK.

Inside the package you'll find the card's manual, a bracket with 2 extra IEE1394 (firewire) connectors, a bracket with 2 USB2.0 connectors, a bracket with Audio-Video and SPDIF output and finally the appropriate metallic faceplate for the motherboard's on-board input/output connections.

The A44P8's bundle consists of a CD containing ATi drivers, PC-cillin Antivirus 2002, Partition Magic and Drive Image 4.0. A US$79 software value as mentioned on the CD sleeve.

Here's a sum-up of the board's features:

Model
A44P8-MLF

SIZE WDH(mm)

ATX 30.5 cm(L) x 24.4 cm(W)

CHIP

NORTHBRIDGE

ATI RS350

SOUTHBRIDGE ATI SB300

MEMORY

TYPE

4xDDR SDRAM
(4GB max)

DDR

266/333/400

CPU

TYPE

Socket 478

FSB

400/533/800

VGA

CHIP

ATI Radeon 9200

Output

VGA,S-Video, AV-OUT

PCI

x5

AGP

8x (1.5V Only)

SOUND

CHIP

5.1 Channel AC97

LAN

SPEED

Realtek 8110C (10/100Mbps)

IDE Connector

2x133

SATA Connector

2xSATA

USB 2.0

8xUSB2.0

IEEE1394 2x

2. Board Layout

02 - EQS A44P8-MLF - Board Layout

CPU Socket

As with most 478 motherboards, the A44P8 is also equipped with a plastic base around the CPU socket for the heatsink and fan assembly. We raised the tiny lever, placed the processor in the socket and then pressed down on the lever to lock it in and secure the CPU. The installation of the fan couldn't be easier. Just placing it above the socket and then pressing down firmly, is enough as it locks onto its plastic base.

 

Memory Banks

The memory module slots are in two colors, red and blue to highlight the mainboard's Dual Channel memory support. So, by placing the two memory modules into either both blue or both red slots, can result in a halving of the fetch time.

 

Back Panel

The rear panel input / output provides the following connections:

From left to right and top to bottom:

 

The realtek chip responsible for the board's LAN interface..

Connectors

Below you can see the hard drive connectors. 2 IDE channel and 2 SATA connectors makes it possible to connect of up to 6 drives.

Each Serial ATA interface can connect up to 1 hard disk device with data rates of 150MB/s.

Slots

Below you can see the Extension slots for the A44P8. The one at the top, coloured green is the AGP 8X slot while the following five are PCI extensions.

 

Extra brackets

An extra S-bracket with 3 more jacks concludes the on-chip soundcard's features: an SPDIF jack, Rear Speaker Out, Center and Subwoofer Out for 5.1 channel audio.

Two more brackets which connect to the motherboard and provide another two USB2.0 ports and two firewire (IEEE 1394) connections.


3. Performance

03 - EQS A44P8-MLF - Performance

To test this motherboard, we used 3 benchmarks. One dealing with overall performance (PCMark04) and two for checking out the integrated graphics processor (Aquamark03,3DMark01). The latter two are known for their heavy dependence on the CPU and so provide a good balance between CPU and GPU testing.

PCMark04

PCMark04 is an application-based benchmark and a premium tool for measuring overall PC performance. It uses portions of real applications instead of including very large applications or using specifically created code. This allows PCMark04 to be a smaller installation as well as to report very accurate results. You may download a shareware version of PCMark04 from Futuremark.

 
P4 2.4GHz
w/ Intel 915G
PCMarks
3417
File Compression
4.1 MB/s
File Encryption
38.5 MB/s
File Decompression
28.7 MB/s
Image Processing
10.9 MPixels/s
Virus Scanning
1880.0 MB/s
Grammar Check
1.7 KB/s
File Decryption
69.4 MB/s
Audio Conversion
2113.0 KB/s
Web Page Rendering
4.6 Pages/s
WMV Video Compression
42.9 FPS
DivX Video Compression
47.7 FPS
Physics Calculation and 3D
87.6 FPS
Graphics Memory - 64 lines
999.4 FPS

 

3DMark01

You may download a shareware version of 3DMark 2001 from Futuremark.

As you can see we got a rise in performance over the previous run with our benchmarks on a Sapphire 9100IGP chipset. However, it didn't go that much better so as to reach Intel's 915G IGP and not even close to a low-end PCI/AGP extension card such as Powercolor's X300.

Aquamark03

Aquamark03 is availabe for download from Aquamark's official website.

With Aquamark03, the EQS A44P8's integrated graphics processor took the lead from Sapphire ny a margin of just 20 points in the Triscore. It's now clear that ATi has shown some improvement with its embedded chipsets such as the IGP9100 and IXP300 used on this motherboard.


4. Bios & Overclocking

04 - EQS A44P8-MLF - Bios & Overclocking

This mainboard is powered by a BIOS chip from PhoenixBios.

What is most interesting with the EQS A44P8 BIOS is the Advanced chipset features screen. The rest of the BIOS menus are pretty much stock standard to those available in every other motherboard.

The difference here is the UMA Frame Buffer Size. So far, integrated graphics processors don't have any memory installed on-chip. Instead, they use some part of your computer's physical memory as their own. This architecture is called UMA (Unified Memory Architecture) and the physical memory assosiated with the graphics processor is the UMA Frame Buffer.

Setting the UMA Frame Buffer to 128Mb is the equivalent of having a 128MB graphics card, while leaving it at 32MB which was the default value, is like having a 32MB VGA card. Provided you have more than 256Mb of physical memory installed on the motherboard, choosing 128Mb is the perfect choice.

Moving further down the menu, there's an indicator for the current FSB frequency (which in our case was 200MHz by default) and below that a setting for FSB overclocking.

We were really disappointed to see you could only increase the FSB up to 15Mhz. To make matters worse, there is no additional voltage control apart from the Spectrum spreading amount. We immediately tried to increase the FSB by 15MHz and the system failed to boot. We restored the BIOS settings and tried again at +10MHz only to get the same tragic failure. Finally we managed to make the computer POST at +5.

In the last screenshot, you can see the remaining options available in the Advanced Chipset menu. The Dual Channel Interleave can be set to a value of either Graphics Optimal or System Optimal. The former boosts performance in 3D applications while the latter provides slightly better overall system performance. By default, this value is set to System Optimal.


5. Conclusion

05 - EQS A44P8-MLF - Conclusion

The EQS A44P8-MLF is a full featured product. Everything you could ever ask for from a motherboard is incorporated or supported, including the on-chip graphics processor, on-board LAN interface, USB and firewire connections, SATA support and finally the soundcard. Everything is present to make the A44P8 a complete, low-cost solution.

Regarding the mainboard's overclocking "disability", we inquired at EQS about it. EQS kindly replied that because of the increasing popularity of overclocking, more and more users try to set their processor clocks to run at insanely high clock speeds, resulting in damaged processors and/or motherboards. Since EQS is aiming at creating high quality products, they decided to limit the user's ability to stress the hardware. Also, we've been informed that it's highly unlikely that a future BIOS update will change this.

The EQS A44P8-MLF motherboard costs around $105. Considering its completeness and excellent support from EQS, this is a very affordable price. Note that EQS maintains a very helpful forum on their website where you can directly converse with some of their technicians to get help regarding your product. In addition to that, the A44P8 ships with a 3-year guarantee, proving once again that EQS's main objective is product quality.

Pros:
-Full featured
-Affordable price
-Satisfactory 3D performance

Cons:
-Little to no overclocking potential.

 

Features
Performance
BIOS/Overclocking
Value for money

 



Home | News | All News | Reviews | Articles | Guides | Download | Expert Area | Forum | Site Info
Site best viewed at 1024x768+ - CDRINFO.COM 1998-2014 - All rights reserved -
Privacy policy - Contact Us .