- What You Get
Inside of the plain looking P4M-RS300 box from FIC we find a very basic package which puts off the message that this product is suited more toward the value end of the market. We have the manual, IDE and FDD cables, back panel, USB bracket and installation CD. You'll notice that the CD included is burnt; this is because we got an early version of the motherboard and it wouldn't have been ready at time of shipping.
The package is very minimal but perfect for the type of user is doesn't not to spend a fortune on their motherboard.
The FIC P4M-RS300 is based on a Micro-ATX sized form factor measuring only 9.2 x 9.6 inches which goes further to saying that the product is being targeted to the value section of the market.
We have an AGP 8x AGP slot and three PCI configuration layout which should provide more than enough expansion possibilities considering we have video, audio, LAN and a grand total of six USB 2.0 ports (two via USB expansion bracket) all onboard through the ATI IXP 150 Southbridge.
The overall layout of the motherboard is very clean with not an overly great deal to talk about. It's worth noting that only two DIMM slots are provided allowing for a maximum of 2GB of memory in total in Dual Channel mode.
It would have been nicer to have a total of four DIMM slots of those wanting to include 4x 256MB of memory or higher since the Radeon 9100 IGP chipset can support up to 4GB of system memory. Unfortunately the motherboard does not include Serial ATA support either which is a shame since the HDD standard is really starting to take off.
- The Chipset
The chief aim of the Radeon 9100 IGP based on TSMC's 0.15-micron process from ATI is to battle against Intel's 865-G (Springdale) chipset in the mainstream market. Don't let this FIC motherboard fool you into thinking the Radeon 9100 IGP is a low-end value solution - it is far from it but it should be very competitively priced when we begin to see retail motherboards on store shelves.
The Radeon 9100 IGP includes all the modern Pentium 4 chipset features you would expect such as 400MHz, 533MHz and 800MHz FSB support for all current Pentium 4 processors, Hyper-Threading support for increased performance and AGP 8x. There is no word of "PAT" (Performance Acceleration Technology) type workings on this chipset but you can be sure ATI discovered the secret of the Intel Canterwood and added a similar type of accelerating technology to increase memory speeds like many Taiwanese manufacturers have done on a lot of their Intel Springdale based motherboards to the dissatisfaction of Intel.
The Northbridge is passively cooled with a standard chipset cooler much like the reference Intel Canterwood chipset cooler, if not exactly the same. The heatsink hardly warms up under load which is certainly a very good sign, especially for overclockers. The Southbridge does not require any additional cooling like most on the market.
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