VIA VPSD P4PB 400 - Page 4

..:: Layout: Northbridge Area ::..

The VT8754 Northbridge is covered by the decorative silver heatsink emblazed with the P4X400 logo. When we took a look at the P4PA, we found that there was no thermal tape or thermal compound used in-between the Northbridge and heatsink, however with the P4PB 400 VIA has corrected this issue by utilizing thermal tape for heat transfer. With the FSB and RAM speeds rising, thermal transfer material is becoming more necessary with today’s Northbridge’s. The Northbridge heatsink is held on by two white, spring loaded pins. The Northbridge area is fairly clean, with only one small 1000uF capacitor located off to its right side.

Just off to the left of the VT8754 Northbridge, we come across the remainder of the main set of capacitors and other miscellaneous electrical items. Here, we also come across the 12V ATX power connector, and the main ATX power connector, along with another three-pin fan power connector. This is the one and only area of the board that I don’t particularly care for. I’d much prefer to see these ATX power connectors be located along the top portion of the board as we saw with the P4PA. Arranging the ATX connectors in this area can cause airflow disruption over the processor, and although heat isn’t as large an issue with the newer Pentium 4’s as it is with the AthlonXP’s, it is still important enough to warrant that notice be taken. The three-pin fan connector is in a bit of an odd position, sandwiched in-between the smaller 12V ATX power connector and a 22uF capacitor. When all of the power connectors are plugged in and the AGP slot is filled, this little fan connector might be a little tough to get to, however it shouldn’t be too much an issue as most users will prefer to use the third three-pin power connector in the lower right corner of the board.

..:: Layout: Expansion Slots ::..

As we continue our trek around the P4PB 400, we come across a very busy section of the board, the expansion slot area. The expansion slot setup will please both enthusiasts and OEM’s alike with one AGP 4x / 8x slot, five PCI slots, and one CNR slot. This setup should be more than enough for everyone, especially considering the amount of features already built into the board, however there are more than likely a few out there who might prefer to see a sixth PCI slot added alongside, or in place of, the CNR slot. The AGP slot comes outfitted with the usual white retention mechanism that will hold that graphics card in place in case you ever decide to take the PC to the local LAN event, or you just happen to be doing a little rearranging around the house, etc.

The VIA VT6105M 10/100 LAN Controller is positioned to the immediate left of the AGP slot. The next set of items we comes across are located to the left of the 10/100 LAN Controller, and they consist of the onboard audio headers and plug-ins. If we take a look directly below the yellow I/O audio connector we come across an eleven-pin header. This is where you will plug in the external audio bracket if you plan on using more than two channel audio, or if you plan on utilizing the digital audio connections that are also provided by that bracket. This is fairly good positioning, however I’d prefer to see it a little bit lower on the board to avoid having to run the lengthy cable from the bracket over, or under the graphics card. Below this header, we come across the usual black, yellow, and green connectors. The black connector is for CD audio in, the yellow connector is for the auxiliary input, and the green connector is for the modem audio connection. In-between these connectors, we also come across the tiny chip that powers our onboard audio, the VIA VT1616 chip.

The last main items we come across in the expansion area are all located more towards the bottom of the board. One of these items would be the ITE IT8705F chip, which handles the monitoring of system temperature readings, fan speed readings, voltages, etc. We also come across the system BIOS, located directly below the ITE system monitoring chip. If we take a look between PCI slot three and four, we’ll see the Smart Card Reader header. If you plan on using your Smart Card Reader, this is the place to plug it in. Between PCI slot four and five, we have the onboard infrared connector. Lastly, we come across one of the two red jumpers. This jumper, located to the right of the CNR slot, controls whether or not the onboard audio codec is enabled or disabled.