EQS – 292AM-DM4 review

Pentium 4 motherboard
Photo of EQS – 292AM-DM4
£52 + VAT

EQS (“Efficiency Quality Supplier”) is fairly new to the UK market but has had a considerable presence in the European market for several years. Its manufacturing facility is Hong Kong/China-based and it has recently entered a joint venture with Sapphire Technology to add the latest ATI Radeon chipset to its motherboards.

The 292AM-DM4 comes on a micro-ATX form factor board with three PCI slots and an AGP graphics slot for system expansion. The AGP may seem overkill, as the new ATI Radeon IGP 340 chipset is no slouch and supports Dual Display (monitor/TV) with integrated TV encoder and both composite and S-video outputs. The 128-bit single cycle 2D/3D graphics engine includes hardware motion compensation, IDCT and hardware MPEG-2 decoding for DVD playback. The frame buffer shares system memory and can be adjusted from 4 to 256MB to produce screen resolutions up to 2,048 x 1,600 x 32bpp with full support for DirectX and OpenGL. So it’s a bit above the usual integrated chipset, then.

The board runs Intel Pentium 4 processors (400/533MHz Front Side Bus, Socket 478) at clock speeds up to 2.8GHz. The Phoenix BIOS gives full support for PnP, APM, ACPI, ATAPI, and DMI, with automatic support for hard drives over 8.4GB and built-in virus protection. Two DDR sockets are available, each handling up to 1GB DDR sticks for a maximum memory of 2GB. However, to get the maximum 256MB of display memory you’ll need to install at least 512MB of system memory.

Input/output is pretty standard for this type of motherboard, with support for two PCI Enhanced IDE channels that can run at Mode 3, Mode 4 and Ultra DMA 33/66/100, with twin headers for four IDE devices including IDE hard drives and CD-ROM drives. All the standard I/O is available including one ECP/EPP Parallel Port, two 16550A UART serial ports and four USB ports (two USB ports via an optional adapter cable). Only one serial port is available on the board but EQS fits a header for a second serial port connector, since this can still be useful for legacy devices.

On-board sound is provided by an integrated controller using a standard AC97 Codec. This is full-duplex, with line-in, line-out, mic-in and MIDI/game port. Sound Blaster 16 compatibility is built in and it’s Direct Sound ready. EQS includes a useful software bundle with the board that consists of “PC-cillin” anti-virus software, Partition Magic and Drive Image for total backup security.

Company: EQS

Contact: 01753 732278


Verdict
It's the built-in graphics adapter that sets the EQS 292AM-DM4 board apart. The new ATI Radeon chipset is fast and perfectly suitable for most applications. Remember you'll need a fair chunk of system memory to use the higher 3D graphics modes. Windows XP will fly on a Pentium 4, making it an ideal foundation for a home/student machine. Add a cheap network card for the basis of a fast economical workstation.