815 Or BX?
While the 815 chipset is beginning to replace Intel's venerable BX chipset in most high performance PCs, 815 has had a harder time earning acceptance in the mainstream market due to its cost: BX motherboards can be easily found for 15-20% less than a similarly configured 815 motherboard. As a result, many consumers on a budget have decided to stick with their BX boards, or, in some cases, upgrade to a motherboard based on VIA's Apollo Pro133A chipset. With consumers on a budget still sold on the BX chipset, Intel needed something to finally replace the chipset; a task the chipset division of the company has been charged with for just over a year. Just what did they come up with? The 815EP chipset.
Before 815EP was released, two versions of the 815 chipset existed, the "plain" 815 and the more advanced 815E. Both variants use the same graphics memory controller hub (which connects the processor to the system graphics and memory), the 82815 chip, the difference lies in the I/O controller hub (which connects the IDE controllers, USB ports, PCI cards, etc to the graphics memory controller hub). While the 815 chipset utilizes the 82801AA I/O controller hub, the 815E employs the 82801BA I/O controller hub. The key addition to the 82801BA (and the 815E chipset) I/O hub is full support for ATA/100, the fastest IDE hard drive protocol to date.
With 815EP, Intel removed the onboard graphics from the 82815 controller hub, but kept the same 82801BA I/O hub from the 815E chipset. With the onboard graphics removed, Intel charges less for the 815EP chipset -- finally making low-cost motherboards based on the 815 chipset family a reality.
Since the onboard graphics provided by 815 can't match the performance of a TNT2 accelerator card, losing the onboard graphics provided by 815 isn't a big deal for many consumers. However, the lower cost of 815EP motherboards will definitely come in handy, especially for those on a budget.
ASUS CUSL2: 815 Supreme
This brings us to ASUS. Their first 815 motherboard, the CUSL2, has been an extremely popular success for the company. Numerous online journalists have heaped praises and awards on the motherboard, it's no small wonder that we're giving away one of them for our Millennium Madness promotion
, they're simply great motherboards!
However, one of our primary caveats with the CUSL2 was its price. It commanded a hefty premium over Apollo Pro133A and BX-based boards when it was launched in July.
With the release of the CUSL2-C however, all that has changed. Since it utilizes the 815EP chipset, ASUS not only pays less for the chipset itself, it further cuts costs by removing the VGA connector (as its no longer necessary).
How does the newest addition to the CUSL2 lineup perform? Read on to find out!