ECS P6IWP-Fe Peformance
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Performance
   Intel's i810E chipset is the current performance leader among the all-in-one chipsets and so was certainly a wise choice when it came time for ECS to manufacture its first FlexATX system board.  While the i810E is certainly no match for the i820 or even Intel's 440BX chipset when it comes to pure performance, it offers more bang for the buck in the value arena than the other all-in-ones currently available (SiS530 and VIA MVP4).
   To determine the measure of P6IWP-Fe's performance we built a system such as you might expect for the market at which the system board is aimed.

Test Configuration for ECS P6IWP-Fe

Mainboard ECS P6IWP-Fe FlexATX
Chipset Intel 810E AGPset 
Processor(s) Intel® PPGA Celeron™ 500MHz
Intel® FC-PGA Pentium III 500E
Memory 1x64MB PC100
Apacer P/N: 71.63323.112
Hard Drive Western Digital WD64AA 
6.4G Ultra ATA/66 5400RPM
Graphics Adapter Integrated i752 AGP
W/ 4MB 133MHz Display Cache
Operating System Windows 98 SE

Business Performance
We measured the P6-IWP-Fe's business performance against Ziff Davis' Content Creation Winstone 2000 and Business Winstone 99 and tested its business graphics performance using Ziff Davis' Winbench 99's Business Graphics and High-End Graphics applications.  To get our results we ran each test a minimum of 5 times and chose the most consistent scores for reference here.  Clicking on the icons below will pop up the full spreadsheet.

In Ziff Davis' Content Creation Winstone 2000 , a system-level, application-based benchmark that measures a PC's overall performance when running typical tools used to create graphically intense Web pages with multimedia and other types of content,  the Celeron-based system consistently produced a score of 15.8 WinMarks, while the PIII FC-PGA processor-based system boasted a score of 18.5 WinMarks...
The Winstone 99 v1.2 benchmark application tests multitasking with the most popular office suites in the marketplace rather than individual applications: Corel WordPerfect Suite 8, Lotus SmartSuite, and Microsoft Office 97.  Consistent performance in the Celeron-based system ran at 20.2 WinMarks, while the Pentium III posted 22.9 WinMarks

Ziff Davis' Winbench 99's Business and High-End Graphics were also run  to test the P6IWP-Fe's 2D graphics capabilities.  These were also performed a minimum of 5 times or until we were satisfied that the scores were consistent.  The Celeron-based system produces a Business Graphics WinMark of 151 and a High-End Graphics WinMark of 407 , and the PIII-based system produced  a Business Graphics WinMark of 170 and a High-End Graphics WinMark score of  443.


Audio and Video Performance
Because the ECS P6IWP-Fe is designed for use as a "Home Entertainment PC", we felt obliged to test the audio and video qualities the system board possesses.  While ECS could have relied on the i810E's support of the AC '97 audio codec, they went the extra step by incorporating the Elite CMI 8738 PCI audio chip which supports 24-bit SPDIF digital audio and both Aureal's A3D and Microsoft's DirectSound3D interfaces.  This, along with i810E's hardware video and DVD support can turn your PC into a Home Theater.  Here's how the system board performed...

Part of Ziff-Davis' Winbench 99 the video benchmark application measures CPU Utilization, Max Frame Rate, Temporal and Visual Qualities using a variety of codices at varying resolutions.  Both the Celeron and PIII based systems performed quite well with scores typical of those rendered by mid-priced VGA cards.  Click on the icon on the right to view the entire spreadsheet.

Audio WinBench 99 measures the performance of a PC's audio subsystem, which includes the sound card and its driver, the processor, the DirectSound and DirectSound 3D software, and the speakers.  While the onboard Elite CMI 8738 PCI audio does not match the performance enjoyed by PCs equipped with the latest High-End sound cards, it does indeed far surpass the capabilities of the AC '97 codec and greatly reduces CPU Utilization when using high frequency quality audio... 

3D Graphics Performance
The P6IWP-Fe is somewhat limited in 3D graphics performance in that there is no AGP slot available so. unless you want to plug in a PCI VGA card, you'll need to rely on Intel's incorporated i752 AGP graphics housed within the 82810E (GMCH).  If you have any idea of the current performance level of high-end graphics cards the score below may seem at best mediocre.  However, if you think back to even the beginning of 1999, the i810E's incorporated graphics performance is not only better than average, it is actually reasonably good.  While some of the newest 3D games that are currently available and surely those to be released in the future will stress the P6IWP-Fe's graphics subsystem, the performance is certainly better than adequate for a family home entertainment PC. To test D3D performance we chose the Expendable Demo as it pushes performance issues to the current edge in D3D.  And, the OpenGL ICD was tested with the time-honored Quake II Demo 1, which reflect normal game play and "Three-Fingers'" Crusher Demo which pushes past the graphics subsystem well into CPU utilization. And just for edginess we also tested the OpenGL abilities of the P6IWP-Fe with the Quake 3 Arena Demo (Demo001.dm3).  Each demo was performed three times, the scores from which were then averaged to render those below.

Overclocking
The P6IWP-Fe is really not designed for overclocking although it does offer, through the BIOS, the ability to adjust the external CPU frequency.  At the basic 66MHz FSB the BIOS offers 68.5 and 75MHz settings and the 100MHz FSB offers 112 and 124MHz settings.  The problem is that the graphics subsystem does not seem to be able to handle any increase to it's default 66MHz frequency.  You best bet then is to find a PPGA Celeron 300 and run it at 100MHz FSB or 450MHz or an FC-PGA 500E or 550E Pentium III and run it at the 133MHz FSB.  Our tests with the FC-PGA 500E went quite well until we attempted any graphics intensive application.  Any and all 3D applications we tried immediately resulted in screen freezes.  But, since the system board was never designed with high-performance in mind, we can hardly fault either ECS or the P6IWP-Fe

Conclusion
The day is coming soon when the PC will be thought of as little more than a utilitarian home appliance and if the P6IWP-Fe is any indication, that day is already here.  While we all certainly love bleeding edge performance machines it seems a bit of a waste to use them to store recipes, house electronic encyclopedias, and send email when a handy, efficient and cost-effective unit exists to handle al of those tasks and still has enough juice to handle spreadsheets, small databases, and photo editing along with networking and good multimedia audio and video capabilities.

The FlexATX for factor and the i810E combine to provide a compact home efficient/entertainment unit in the $400-$600 range that is much more than just a toy. We fully expect to see a flood of these type of system boards hit the market early in 2000 and salute ECS for their addition of AMRplus and TV-Out/Panel link properties on the P6-IWP-Fe.  ECS reputation for quality and reduced time to market will go along way to making a success of the new FlexATX form factor and, with a call for a few adjustments to the User's Guide, rate the P6IWP-Fe a true value leader for the coming year.

To find out more about the ECS P6IWP-Fe and other new product from Elitegroup, check out their web site at http://www.ecsusa.com or http://www.ecs.com.tw  

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