VIA VPSD P4PB 400 - Page 5

..:: Layout: Southbridge & Memory Area ::..

Yet another busy area of the board is our next stop, the Southbridge area. Here we can see several headers, plug-ins, and other bits and pieces. You can really tell some thought went into this board just by looking at this area. We see that all of the headers for external USB, IEEE 1394, and other connectors are all lined up along the bottom of the board. This is great positioning for all of these items, they are out of the way, and organized magnificently. From left to right, we have the two-pin Wake-On-Ring header, the three-pin Wake-On-LAN header, two white IEEE 1394 headers, two yellow USB headers, and the last of the three-pin power connectors.

Along the right hand edge of the board, we come across the front panel header. This is where you plug in your case LEDís, power connectors, etc. Above this header, we come across the system buzzer, system battery, and the red Clear CMOS jumper. Located just above the Clear CMOS jumper is a two-pin header labeled ďJ5Ē. Iím not quite sure what this header does, and it is undocumented, so I didnít try toying with it. The last item that we come across in the bottom right corner is the VIA VT6306 IEEE 1394 Controller.

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

The area around the VT8235 Southbridge is extremely clean with no capacitors or large electrical components anywhere in the remote area. The only item of interest is the black DIP switch located on the right edge of the AGP slot. This DIP switch comes with four available options, Auto (Default), 100MHz, 133MHz, and 166MHz. All I have to say is, if you can get your processor running at 166MHz FSB, Iíll need to you to promptly send it along to me for a better lookÖyeah, thatís it, a better look, heh. Thatís roughly a 664MHz FSB in case youíre too lazy to do the math.

The two white IDE connectors are located along the right hand edge of the board, right below the black floppy connector. This arrangement of the connectors is my personal favorite. They arenít all lined up next to each other, they are easily accessible, and if you do in fact need to use a floppy, the connector isnít located in an odd location like we saw with our A7V266-E a while back. The DIMM slots are also in a good position, far away from anything that could rub against the RAM when it is mounted, and they are positioned high enough on the board to prevent any need to remove the graphics card if you want to swap RAM in or out.

All in all, this is a great board design, well thought out, well executed. As mentioned, the only area I have a problem with is the arrangement of the two ATX power connectors and the three-pin power connector. Iíd like to see the engineers try to shift the ATX power connectors to the top edge of the board so that they will be out of the way, but you also have to consider that from and engineering aspect, that in all probability isnít too easy a task. The processor socket is located along the top edge of the board and is not near any major items, such as the DIMM slots, so using whichever heatsink unit you may choose from is possible. All headers and other plug-ins are also in easily accessible places, and are clearly discernable from others. Once again, VIA has not disappointed us with the P4PB 400ís board design.