The motherboard market
With the high price of RDRAM memory, gamers looking for a motherboard to go with their Intel CPU have to date been left with two choices: buy a motherboard based on Intel's venerable BX chipset, or purchase a motherboard based on VIA's newer Apollo Pro 133A chipset.
Each solution has its pros and cons, go the VIA route and you'll have full support for AGP 4X and an asynchronous memory bus. (For those of you who want to run your memory at 133MHz while your FSB stays at 100MHz or vice versa) The VIA chipset brings additional extras (such as added USB ports and native support for ATA-66) but chief among them is price - many Apollo Pro133A motherboards can be found at, or even just under, $100. An attractive price for the performance you're getting.
On the other hand, the BX chipset has been around for years and, as a result, motherboard manufacturers have been able to improve the performance and features of their BX products. For instance, newer BX motherboards ship with ATA-66 support (a feature not supported by the chipset) and soon ATA-100; even IDE RAID will come onboard in the near future from manufacturers Abit and Soyo.
In addition to the Apollo Pro133A and BX motherboards, another choice will soon be available for consumers: Intel's 815 chipset.
We looked at the 3D performance of the 815 last month and were a bit disappointed with its performance. Since then we've received newer 815 motherboards from ASUS and Abit that offer better performance.
ASUS:"The world's No.1 Motherboard Manufacturer"
As Taiwan's largest motherboard manufacturer, ASUS is considered the standard for the industry. Whenever ASUS releases a new product, it's frequently an instant contender for the top product in its class. We witnessed this at the beginning of 2000 with the K7M squared against MSI's K7 Pro, and, just a few months later the ASUS K7V contended for the top spot with Abit's KA7 motherboard. With so many successes in its history, ASUS has developed a loyal following of consumers looking for a reliable, high performance motherboard.
For this reason, when ASUS announced the CUSL2 at Computex last month, we knew we had to get one. We've been banging away at our evaluation unit the past few days and although its based on a brand new chipset, we're pleased to report that the ASUS tradition of high quality and great performance continues with the CUSL2. But how does it perform against its older competitors, the BX and Apollo Pro133A chipsets?