Conclusion: Abit, Gigabyte and Soyo Win!
And so, another gigantic review comes to an end. We invested a lot of time to give you a comprehensive overview. Generally, we think it's safe to say that an Intel chipset is still worth its money. Products based on SiS or ALi chipsets can still cause headaches when trying to get maximum performance out of a system. VIA, however, has made much progress and is well on its way to giving Intel some competition.
The best news is that we did not face any problems with stability. The fact that you can hardly find updated BIOS versions shows you how well the companies have mastered the 845 chipset. So even purchasing a motherboard from a lesser-known brand is no risk.
Asus, Soyo and Soltek provide the fastest motherbords of this review, though the word 'fast' should be taken with a grain of salt: the speeds differ only by a very small percent. The first motherboard that we recommend is Soyo's P4 Fire Dragon, as it comes with an incredible amount of features plus excellent overclocking options.
Abit offers a feature that is unique in this test bed: theoretically, every Pentium 4 processor can be run at 133 instead of 100 MHz FSB (533 vs. 400 MHz quad-pumped). But this will leave the processor heavily overclocked, which Willamette models cannot endure. Though other motherboards also allow 133 MHz FSB, they will overclock the PCI and the AGP heavily as well. The Abit BD7-RAID gives you the option to adjust the relative clock speeds of the PCI and AGP, thus it wins our second recommendation.
Last but not least, there is the Gigabyte 8IRXP, another feature-rich motherboard with outstanding overclocking capabilities. In addition, this board was first used for out overclocking tests at 3 GHz. So it's the third board that we recommend.