Radified User's Guide for the Asus CUSL2 & CUSL2-C Motherboard

Posted: 06oct2000
Updated: 15jul2001 

Intro Mushkin CuWalker Intel ATA drivers Page 3
Page 4 Page 5 Benchmarks asusboards.com Home

Asus makes some of the best motherboards


The info contained in this Asus CUSL2 User's Guide comes from first-hand experience (the best kind). I installed a CUSL2 myself (replacing my trusty BH6 + C300a). I purchased my board early on, when the BIOS was still in beta for 1002. Further insights were gleaned from reading posts at the forum at asusboards.com and from feedback received from other CUSL2 users.

This Asus CUSL2 User's Guide can be found at any of the following URLs:

This Asus CUSL2 User's guide became popular once search engines discovered it. Try searching for Asus CUSL2 user's guide in either Google or Yahoo and you'll see what I mean. It has become one of the site's more popular features. First-time builders have even used it to successfully build their first PC. 


Before beginning, I want to mention <shameless plug> other Radified guides that you might find helpful.

The Referrals page contains a sample of comments from other sites recommending this & other Radified Guides, while the Kudos page contains a sample of reader comments.

I've posted a printer-friendly PDF version of this guide here (161kb), and a downloadable version here (98kb zipped PDF). This will allow you to to either print out, or store the entire guide, locally, on your hard drive, for easy reference. 20 pages.

If you use the PDF, go to this page and read the two updates dates 15jul2001. Far as I recall, those are the only updates since I created the PDF file. Adobe Acrobat (v5) can be downloaded here.


This guide is intended for people who already know they want the board, especially those who've just ordered one & are preparing to install it. If your looking for a review, see here. I've seen the board selling for ~US$135 on Pricewatch

This is a User's guide, not a hardware review. I'm not testing the board, rather I live with it. So I've included the kinds of things that I'd like to know before installing a new mobo (with a new chipset). Neither is this a FAQ. The only question of concern here is, "How can I get my CUSL2 up & running as fast & painlessly as possible?" 

You won't find any advertising on this site, so you don't have to worry about minced words. I try to tell it like I see it, not make you read between lines. In other words, there's no rea$on for me to parallax my views.

I tried to keep this guide slim, but it has grown plump, thx primarily to other users, the world over, for sending the helpful tips they've learned. This guide began as a single page, then slowly grew into 8 pages. It's currently the forth most popular destination at Radified. In other words, it went from being a side issue to a main feature. It's especially encouraging that several first-time builders have reported successfully assembling their first systems. I finish this guide with benchmarks. (More benchmarks here.)

My system 

CPU = P3-700 (cB0, retail) @938MHz (1.80v). 2x128 and 1x256MB, for a total of 512MB, using all 3 RAM slots, Mushkin rev 1.5 PC133 (2-2-2, 7/9T, cannot get 5/7T). Have 3 ATA and 3 SCSI hard drives, network card (3Com 905C), home LAN, 2 soundcards (SB Live Value & CardDeluxe), 2 USB devices (webcam & scanner), burner (Plextor), printer (Epson) & other cool stuff. In other words, not a bare-bones system, which would have less chance of generating conflicts. This is the most stable mobo I've ever used.

Altho Asus only claims CPU sppt to 933 MHz, there are plenty of people running 1GHz CPUs, at 1GHz and beyond. 

Operating Systems

I'm dual-booting WinME/Win2K (actually triple-booting, with WinXP Pro RC2, also called Whistler). 

I hear that both Redhat 7 & Mandrake 7.2 have native sppt for the 815e chipset, at least, partial native sppt. I've run both Caldera 2.4 & Mandrake 7, but not with the CUSL2, cuz my Radeon gfx card does not yet have native sppt in Linux (need v4.0x of xfree86). I'll re-install a couple Linux distros once the Radeon has Linux sppt. I also think there's a problem with ATA100 support in Linux (none).

Update 06apr2001: Tried to install MandrakeFreq. No luck. Not sure if it's due to the 815e chipset. Some people at Linuxnewbie think it might be the ATA100 controller & hard drives giving me the problem. I created a primary EXT2 partition (and a Linux swap) with Partition Magic. Drake sees the partition fine, but errors when I try to format it -> An error occurred. Mount failed: No such device

I tried to install Linux to an IBM 75GXP (ATA100 drive). Supposedly Linux does not support anything above ATA33 without modifying things. Couldn't even exit out of the installer. Had to ctrl-alt-del. Hosed my whole system. Couldn't boot to *any* OS afterwards. Was ugly. Ended up having to restore several images to get my system back.


The CUSL2 has its own website, run by CrazyJohn. It used to be cusl2.com, then after he sold the domain name to efront, it changed to cusl2c.com. Now it's asusboards.com. Hard to keep up with the changes. So if you run across some funky links to those sites, you'll know why. Hopefully it won't change again. 

CrazyJohn has a bunch of forums there with decent traffic, where you can ask any question you might have. Having a site with forums dedicated to this particular mobo means you have a better chance of finding a solution to any problem you might have, compared to other mobos. 

That's good, cuz Asus sppt sux. I sent them a few emails, and have yet to receive a single reply. The questions weren't even that difficult. CrazyJohn also has links to plenty of reviews, if that's what you're looking for, or are yet undecided if the board is for you. 

CUSL2 vs other 815e mobo's

Personally, I think the CUSL2 is the best 815e option - by a comfortable margin. Word is that the MSI board (815e Pro) is the next best, but they had nothing to market when I was looking, and I've seen reviews where the MSI board had probs with all 3 RAM slots full (see here). In Anand's 815/815e Round-up here, the CUSL2 was the only mobo that ran at 133 with all 3 RAM slots full. I read somewhere that Asus is the #1 manufacturer of mobos in the world. 

If you like cool stuff, like black motherboards, check out the Black Pearl - a special edition version of the CUSL2. I dig black PCB. The Asus announcement, dated 03.15.01, is here. A picture of the board is here (beautiful), tho I still haven't seen a price on this board. Anybody know? 

There are two versions of the CUSL2. One has onboard audio, the other does not. When you update your bios, you'll see that there are two different versions - one for each. There's also the CUSL2-C which comes with Intel's 815ep chipset, which lacks onboard video. Since most people use a dedicated AGP card, this is no great loss. 

I heard of one person who had a prob with the CUSL2-C that did not have the same prob with the regular CUSL2. He had both boards & was able to swap back & forth on the exact same system, & reproduce the prob with the -C version. But I only heard of one such prob, with many happy -C users. 

The CUSL2-M comes in the Micro-ATX form factor. For those of you (like myself) who might be wondering why someone would want the micro version, Jeff Johnson writes to say: I'm building an integrated audio system for my car. My Kenwood deck has rear AUX-in inputs, so hooking up any audio source is easy. The CUSL2-M has everything I need already on it: Audio/Video/LAN/USB for $170 shipped. All the prices here are after shipping & tax.

A VIA C3 CPU which doesn't need a fan, just a heatsink, and runs at 667Mhz: $49 with heatsink. 64MB PC133 from Crucial: $20. Maxtor 100GB ATA100 HD: $296. 150W ATX-PS: $49. AC inverter: $30. MatrixOrbital LCD 4x40 display: $138. That means I get over 1,200 hours (!) of tunes in my car for $750.

I could do it for under $500 using cheaper parts, but I'd feel more comfortable with brand-name parts and the extra CPU power. That way I won't have a problem playing non-MP3 file formats like MPEG+, AAC, VQF, AC3, Ogg Vorbis, whatever. [Thx for the note, Jeff]

Also heard of a CUSL2-LS version, that comes with onboard LAN & SCSI, altho I don't have a link to drop. If anyone finds ones, lemme know. The only thing I've found is this. Let's move on to the good stuff. 

Set-up Info

WinME has native (driver) support for the Intel 815e chipset. If you try to install the Intel chipset drivers to WinME, you'll get a message that says (something like): This version of Windows already has the latest chipset drivers. Update not needed. W2K does not have native sppt for the 815e chipset - nor does W98/SE, which means you'll have to install the Intel chipset drivers to W2K and W98/SE. You can also get the latest Intel chipset drivers here. It looks like the latest version is 2.80.012 (dated 17may2001).

I installed version .021b. These chipset drivers come with ATA33/66 sppt, but not ATA100. You'll need to install the Intel ATA drivers to get ATA100 sppt (for any OS), but some/many people are having probs with the ATA100 drivers - more on that later (I would wait on the ATA100 drivers). 

* Better to install chipset drivers from the hard drive, not a floppy. Installed mine right after clean-installing the OS. Seemed to work good/fine that way. Have heard differing views on the subject, but, normally, chipset drivers would load with OS (like if you install Windows 98/SE to BX board). I think this way has less chance of conflicts. As a side note, after you get everything installed & tweaked just right, image your boot drive, so you can restore painlessly, should you screw something up, and be unable to boot (you know you will). Have a tutorial that will help flatten the Ghost/image learning curve. 

* I did not overclock until after installing the OS & most apps. Ran 100/100/33 for most of the install/config.

* Update 15mar01: Current chipset drivers are v2.80.010. Heard reports of people having probs with a yellow-flagged Unknown PCI device, especially in Win2K. Ozzie suggests you install the chipset drivers in safe mode. I didn't do this and had no probs (version 021b). 

My friend, Joshua, says he got rid of it by removing it & rebooting, and it went away. I skimmed thru the threads, and it seems that you want to install the chipset drivers right after you load the OS, but before you install any PCI to conflict with the chipset drivers.

* Many/most at cusl2.com forums seem to like/use WinME, but caution to do a clean install - not an upgrade. I did a clean install, and love WinME. Noticeably more stable (for me, w/ CUSL2) than W98/SE was with my old board (Abit BH6, original v1.0). The WinME user interface comes from Win2K. Since I dual-boot with Win2K, and like (love!) Win2K, I also like WinME. 

* But I know people who have installed WinME (clean) to non-CUSL2 mobo, & had probs. So maybe it's only good for those with a CUSL2? I dunno. Not sure why some people (who know what they're doing with a PC) have had probs with ME. All I can say is how it works with my (clean installed, CUSL2-based) system, which is -> schweet. But there are more than a few CUSL2 users who have had probs with WinME & had to revert back to Win98/SE. So if you have probs with WME & the CUSL2, you're not alone.

The CUSL2, and all mobo's based on the Intel 815e chipset are limited to 512MB RAM. This is a limitation of the chipset, not the mobo. I read here (register) that WinME, & all W9x kernels, are limited to 512MB RAM. I've read that MS has workaround by limiting the amount of vcache your system uses, by editing the system.ini file. I have not tried this myself. 

update 04aug2001: I added another 256MB stick of PC133. That gives me a total of 512MB. I'm using all 3 slots. 2x128 + 1x256 = 512MB. I thought I'd have problems, but the thing is rock solid (2-2-2, 7/9T). 

If you definitely know you wanna run 512MB RAM, I'd get two 256MB sticks, as then you'd only have two slots filled. More on chipset limitations with all 3 RAM slots full later. 

I tried to migrate from BX chipset (Abit BH6) to CUSL2 without reformatting and re-installing the OS/apps & re-configuring everything. Was not able. Have heard of only a handful that claim to have made the migration successfully without reformatting & reinstalling. General consensus is that, anytime you upgrade to a new chipset, you should reformat & re-install your OS. Altho, if you have a lot of apps, this can be time-consuming. 

Mario, aka Judgementday, posted a nice step-by-step CUSL2 install here.

Rick, aka CuWalker, let me post his system-specific config. If your system looks anything like his, then his settings may (also) work for you. See here

Copied a post from Mushkin tech support & posted it here. It deals with setting up Mushkin RAM. Worth a look. This is why I buy Mushkin RAM. I've never seen any other company get involved in a bulletin board. Mushkin has the best service & sppt on the web.

Next -> Asus CUSL2 Guide - Intel ATA drivers