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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [04.14.08]
Manufactured by: Universal Abit


Ethernet Performance

Now we are starting to get into what can set a motherboard apart from the pack; onboard peripherals. Even though many motherboards use identical chipsets, and the memory controller is in fact built onto the CPU in AMD's case, it's the rest of the components that really make them different. And in many cases, even though the same features are found in competing motherboards, utilizations of those features can vary.

The AX78 uses the Marvell Yukon 88E8056 controller, which is PCI-E based. This means that it should be capable of extremely high bandwidth at full saturation, at the expense of some extra CPU cycles.

The M2N-E is also using a Marvell Yukon, but it's the older 88E1116 model. This one also sits on the PCI-E bus, but goes through the NForce 4 MediaShield.

As expected, the boards perform pretty much identical. In other words, they are both very good.

USB & PATA Performance

For the most part, USB should also perform about the same. But since the USB is controlled by the Southbridge, this is a place where the lower quality Southbridges can cause a board to fall behind. We all know that the years-old SB600 used by the AX78 has a bit of a bad reputation; let's see how USB performance looks.

Just as it always has, the USB controller on the SB600 is quite a bit slower compared to other chipsets. The transfer rate is slower by about 10 MB/s across the board. This is very bad, and is definitely a noticable difference in day-to-day use.

And to make matters worse, the CPU usage is significantly higher at full load.

Make no mistake, the SB600 is still pretty bad.

Even PATA's burst rate is a bit lower, but this is hardly significant. Especially since everyone will be running nothing more than optical drives on this bus. CPU usage was normal.

So far, the major weak point of the AX78 is starting to rear its ugly head - the ATI SB600 southbridge. On the next page, we'll look at some more problems with it.

Next Page: (SATA Performance; SB600 is busted)