Intel's Strike Force:
19 DDR-Motherboards With 845 Chipset and DDR-Support

Intel's Strike Force At A Glance:
19 Motherboards With The 845 Chipset for DDR

Intel's Strike Force At A Glance:<BR>19 Motherboards With The 845 Chipset for DDR

Everybody wanted it, now it's finally here: a Pentium 4 chipset from Intel that offers high performance and does not require expensive Rambus memory (RDRAM). 'DDR' has been a fabulous catchword for AMD's Athlon, so why shouldn't this work out for Intel's sweetheart, too? DDR (Double Data Rate) SDRAM offers twice the bandwidth of PC133 SDRAM, serving the Pentium 4's 400 MHz quad-pumped bus better than the latter ever could. The overall performance has now reached a very good level and everybody should be happy, but why aren't we?

Perfect things are very rare in life, and it's not any different here. Intel did not arbitrarily choose RDRAM to be the main memory, since the current type (PC800 standard) works at exactly the same clock speed as the P4's memory bus: 400 MHz (100 MHz quad-pumped for the CPU, 400 MHz double-pumped in case of the memory). This fits perfectly because data can be transferred at every clock cycle. Switching to DDR memory brings along some asynchronism, as it is clocked at 133 MHz (double pumped).

Basically, DDR memory, with its bandwidth of 2.1 GB/s (also called PC2100), works faster than RDRAM at its 1.6 GB/s. However, in modern systems RDRAM is only used in dual or multiple channel configurations. In case of the Pentium 4 with 850 chipset, two RIM modules have to be used in order to get two channels - resulting in a bandwidth increase to 3.2 GB/s. Unfortunately, RDRAM cannot be overclocked very well, which is a huge factor for speed demons and performance enthusiasts. DDR SDRAM is still slightly cheaper and more flexible.

As a matter of fact, the 845 chipset does not have any real disadvantage - actually, quite the contrary. This platform is fast, affordable and very sophisticated. It even seems to be ready for the future (since Intel does not plan to replace the Socket mPGA478 within the next several months), and could remain the prevailing platform for another year - at least as long as the P4 Northwood is the favorite product in Intel's portfolio. You can be fairly sure that CPUs running at 3 GHz or even more will run perfectly in today's motherboards.

We decided to delay this review several times in order to collect as many motherbords as possible. 19 boards arrived at the lab, most of them in colorful boxes, dressed in fancy PCB optics and gussied up in enthusiastic promises. We tested the boards to see which ones are able to live up to expectations.

Memory Matters: Why It Should Be DDR

RDRAM in the current PC800 standard will be replaced soon, as the performance benefits in contrast to DDR memory are gone. DDR-based chipsets like the VIA P4X266A, the SiS645 (this one even at 166 MHz memory clock) or the i845 offer similar or equal performance at reduced costs with respect to both the chipset and the memory.

In a few months, Intel will be offering the Pentium 4 for 533 MHz FSB. Simultaneously, a new RDRAM standard will appear (PC1066 at 533 MHz double-pumped), working perfectly synchronously with the clock speed. The first benchmarks proved that the team consisting of RDRAM + Pentium 4 makes much more sense than most of us imagined, and that common systems with DDR memory lag a bit behind. In this context, I would like to underline that we are talking of a price segment that is clearly higher than the one represented by these 19 motherboards. Both the new CPUs (2.4+ GHz) as well as the chipset and the memory will be available at lunatic prices. Only fat wallets, please.

So get ready for DDR as the old and new alternative! Though dual-channel PC1066 RDRAM will be quite a bit ahead of DDR memory, the latter will finally also work synchronously with the FSB. But DDR clock speeds could also be soon increased, bringing systems with 166 (DDR333) or even 200 MHz (DDR400) memory clock (double-pumped, of course).

RDRAM DDR-SDRAM
Clock 400 MHz (double-pumped) 133 MHz (double-pumped)
Name of module Rambus Inline Memory Module (RIMM) Dual Inline Memory Module (DIMM)
Interface 16 Bit 64 Bit
Access via a dedicated protocol via classic memory grid
Bandwith 2 Byte (16 Bit) x 800 MHz= 1600 MB/s 8 Byte (64 Bit) x 266 MHz= 2133 MB/s
Bandwidth in real life 3.2 GB/sDual-Channel PC800 RDRAM 2.1 GB/sPC2100 DDR-SDRAM
ECC available? yes yes
Largest module available 512 MB 1 GB
Usage Two RIMMs only. Empty slots have to be equipped with continuity RIMMs. single
Performance Differences Yes, 35 and 40 ns yes, due to several memory parameters (e.g. CAS Latency)
Memory manufacturing costs medium low
Motherboards manufacturing costs medium to low medium to low
Platforms Intel Pentium III, Pentium 4 Intel Celeron, Pentium 4, Pentium IIIAMD Duron, Athlon, Athlon XP, Athlon MPVIA C3

From the table above, you can tell that there are several advantages of DDR memory:

  • Better upgradeability: single DIMMs can be added
  • Availability on all platforms: when changing to an Athlon XP system, you can continue using your DDR memory
  • Larger modules allow larger maximum memory sizes

DDR Only With CL2!

DDR is not just DDR. As you could see in the table on the last page, DDR SDRAM has several parameters that usually can be altered in the BIOS. These parameters (CL, or 'CAS Latency') have quite an influence on overall performance. First of all, make sure that you get modules that run at CL2.0 rather than CL2.5. It will costs you a few bucks more, but this investment is definitely worth it, bringing approximately 2-4% performance gains along with it. This is also quite important for overclocking.

One Or Two Modules?

Generally, you should use as few modules as possible. This way, you can be sure of getting the fastest timings possible. Second, your upgradeability remains good. Yet, if you use two or more DIMMs, please note that the 'slowest' module fixes the timing for all DIMMs! If only one of three DIMMs is low quality and/or low performance, all others will run in an equally slow mode. Our recommendation is as follows: do not buy the cheapest memory, but one that meets CL2 requirements.

An important factor that affects the maximum amount of memory modules are the memory rows. Intel's 845 chipset is able to address 4 rows, resulting in the following possible memory configurations:

Module Type Corresponds to
4x Single-Sided 4 Rows
2x Double-Sided 4 Rows (2 per Module)
1x Double-Sided and 2x Single-Sided 4 Rows (2+1+1)

This table only shows the maximal memory configurations. One or two modules can be combined arbitrarily.

Before purchasing memory, it's recommended that you choose your motherboard first. If it comes with only two DIMM sockets, you should get one DIMM that has the biggest capacity that you can afford. Thus, the second socket remains empty for future upgrades. In this case, you also don't have to worry about single- or double-sidedness.

It gets much more interesting if there are three or four DIMM sockets. Now, you should set your priorities on single-sidedness. This is the only way you can make sure that all slots can be used, if it ever becomes necessary. If two single-sided modules at 256 MB each are cheaper than one 512 MB DIMM, take the two single-sided. Eventually, it does not have an impact on the overall upgradeability in the case of 4 DIMM sockets.

ECC

Generally, ECC memory (error correcting code) is uninteresting for home use. These modules have 72 instead of 64 Bits and are able to correct single bit errors. From a hardware point of view, using this special memory ensures the best stability. But ECC has to be supported by both the chipset and the BIOS. Unfortunately, only 5 of the 19 tested motherboards support ECC, though the 845 chipset would support it. Just one more note: with ECC enabled, your performance will decrease by approximately 1% to 2% - if you want it, that's the price for maximum hardware stability.

For servers, this kind of memory is strongly recommended, as it contributes to optimum system availability. For home use, buying these modules is rather senseless, since typical Windows systems are stuffed with software and tend to be groggy anyway -- even more than the memory could ever be.

What Would You Like Today? Chipset Features in Detail

Intel chipsets still are considered to be reference products - both in terms of reliability and of technical features. All boards share the features that come with the chipset:

  • AGP 4x Interface
  • DDR memory controller for PC2100 (DDR266) *South Bridge resp. I/O Controller Hub 82801BA, including
    • UltraATA/100 IDE controller for 4 devices max.
    • two USB controllers with 2 ports each
    • LAN interface for easy attachment to 10/100 Mbit networks
    • AC97 controller for easy implementation of sound systems
    • CNR port for unexpensive expansion by a LAN/modem/sound riser card
    • 32 Bit PCI bus (max. 6 slots)

What Would You Like Today? Chipset Features in Detail

You can find more information about the 845 chipset on Intel's website and in the following technology review: Intel Goes DDR - Do We Really Care?.

What Do You Like Today? Additional Features

In addition to the standard chipset features, the motherboard companies try to add value to their products by integrating more featutes, such as the following:

  • On-Board IDE RAID Controller: Promise PDC20265R or HighPoint HPT372
    This is an additional IDE interface for 1-4 drives in RAID mode (0, 1, 0+1) or single setup. RAID requires at least two drives. RAID 0 (striping) passes data to all attached drives simultaneously, resulting in a tremendous performance increase. RAID 1 (mirroring) copies the data simultaneously onto a second drive, ensuring excellent data safety. If one drive crashes, the other one remains operational.

    Be careful: these controllers only support ATA devices, but not ATAPI devices such as CD-ROM or DVD drives.

  • USB 2.0 Controller
    Common USB controllers (USB 1.1) provide up to 12 Mbit/s. USB 2.0 widens this bottleneck and offers much better bandwidth and connectivity for scanners or external storage devices with a maximum of 480 Mbit/s. As long as USB 2.0 is not integrated into chipset circuits, the motherboard companies will sporadically offer this new interface by integrating 3rd party chips.
  • FireWire Controller (IEEE1394)
    In addition to USB 2.0, FireWire or IEEE1394 is a very well accepted, high-performance interface for storage devices or digital cameras. Using an isochronous protocol, FireWire is perfectly suited for real time data transfer (like e.g. audio or video streams). The bandwith is about 400 Mbit/s.
  • Network Controller
    Many companies, including Intel and Realtek, offer inexpensive network controllers that are designed for integration onto motherboards. If you are attached to a network or if you use DSL, you will need a network interface anyway. Thus, any on-board solution is quite valuable.
  • Overclocking
    We will talk about this in another section of this article.
  • Security Features
    There are several ways to secure critical data or access to critical computers. One of them is the use of chassis intrusion detection pins. Thanks to this, unauthorised case openings can be detected and reported to administrators.
    In addition, Soyo and MSI have developed access restricting systems. Both make use of a storage device (it's a chip card with Soyo and a Flash memory stick for USB with MSI) that contains a security ID. If this number cannot be found, the computer (and/or Windows) will deny access. Soyo includes the chip card plus the reader; with MSI, it's an extra that has to be bought separately.

GHz-Mania: Which P4 Processor?

There is a vast selection of Pentium 4 CPUs available: Willamette core, Northwood core, Socket 423 and Socket mPGA478. Socket 423 has been dying for months, so don't go for these systems. First of all, they do not support the new Northwood core, and secondly, there will be no processors faster than 2 GHz for this socket. As far as we know, there are no motherboards with socket 423 and DDR available, so you shouldn't be in danger of getting one of these.

GHz-Mania: Which P4 Processor?
That's the 'old' Pentium 4 for Socket 423. Do not get this oldie!

GHz-Mania: Which P4 Processor?
That's what the current Pentium 4 looks like (mPGA478). The models with Willamette and Northwood cores can only be distinguished by reading the L2 cache size on the heat spreader label.

GHz-Mania: Which P4 Processor?
That's the bottom of the Pentium 4.

In contrast to some of the processors from AMD, the Pentium 4 has never been cheap. That's why we strongly recommend that you shell out a larger sum only if you expect some return on your investment. In everyday life, there is hardly any difference between a Pentium 4 1.8 GHz and the 2 GHz model. Still, the top models are quite interesting if you want to do video encoding or other performance-eating tasks - or if the cost factor is secondary for you.

The 2 GHz model is still priced at a minimum of $325. It seems more reasonable to purchase a model between 1.6 and 1.9 GHz and upgrade the system with one of the future CPUs in several months (2.2 to 2.5 GHz) - at prices that will be much more attractive.

An exception is the latest P4 with Northwood core. Thanks to its 0.13 µm structures, practically all CPUs run safely at 2.5 GHz or even more. Some weeks ago, we were even able to run such a processor at above 3 GHz! For those who can afford spending a lot of money, the new core with 512 KB L2 cache is the one to choose.

Overclocking: If You Do It, Do It Right!

It doesn't take much effort to increase the FSB speed by a couple MHz, but real overclocking (10% or faster clock speed) requires that you be much more thorough.

The CPU clock consists of the system clock, the Front Side Bus (FSB), and the multiplier. Pentium 4 systems work at 100 MHz FSB (quad-pumped, resulting in a performance that corresponds to a 400 MHz bus) and with multipliers between 14 (1.4 GHz) and 22 (2.2 GHz). Unfortunately, the multipliers on the Pentium 4 CPUs have been locked for years, so they cannot be altered. The only way to increase the CPU clock is to increase one of the multiplication factors - in this case, only the FSB is left.

It doesn't matter how the clock is increased: higher clock speeds usually require a higher CPU core voltage in order to run stably. Many motherboards in this review support core voltages of up to 1.85 V. That is enough to run a modern Northwood CPU at 2.5 GHz or even more, depending on the quality of your CPU cooling method.

As soon as the FSB clock is increased, both the AGP and the PCI clock will be increased analog to the FSB. Be careful: although it's unlikely that a component could be damaged, there are certain limits for PCI- and AGP cards. Usually you should stay below 40 MHz for PCI cards and below 85 MHz for AGP hardware.

Some of the recent motherboards give you the option of defining the PCI and AGP speeds relative to the FSB. Abit's BD7-RAID was one of the first motherboards to allow the FSB to be raised to 133 MHz, while the PCI and AGP interfaces can be clocked to specifications of 33 and 66 MHz, respectively. Even the memory stays at safe 133 MHz.

Further options for overclocking consist of increasing the AGP and the memory voltages (some motherboards can go up to 2.8 V instead of 2.5 V).

Reasonable Clock Speeds

The following table consists of our recommendations on how to run overclocked Pentium 4 CPUs. These statements are meant to be guidelines only and do not claim to be absolute, so it's likely that you can achieve higher clock speeds, though sometimes maybe ony lower. Everything depends on the quality of the individual processor. The only thing that you should always take care of is not to exceed ~40 MHz PCI and ~85 MHz AGP.

Processor FSB PCI Clock CPU Clock
P4 - 1700 MHz 115 MHz 38.3 MHz 1955 MHz
P4 - 1800 MHz 112 MHz 37.3 MHz 2016 MHz
P4 - 1900 MHz 110 MHz 36.6 MHz 2090 MHz
P4 - 2000 MHz 107 MHz 35.6 MHz 2140 MHz
P4 - 2200 MHz 115 MHz 38.3 MHz 2530 MHz

The Boards

A-Trend Xsonic ATC8020

A-Trend Xsonic ATC8020

Board Revision: ?
BIOS Version: 1.2 (December 4, 2001)

The current line of products from A-Trend are called Xsonic - we received the 845 DDR motherboard ATC8020. There are two DIMM sockets on this board which is basically enough, since two double-sided modules are the maximum that the chipset is able to address.

This model is also available with an optional IDE RAID controller from Promise (PDC20265R - ATC8020/GLR). A PCI sound chip from Creative is already on hand, featuring surround sound and low CPU utilization.

The BIOS gives you the option to alter the FSB speed between 100 and 130 MHz in incremements of 2 or 3 MHz. Bear in mind that the PCI and AGP clocks increase as well, so that 120 MHz is the highest applicable setting in most cases. Since this motherboard does not have any further overclocking features (e.g. different CPU core voltage settings), it isn't really suitable for ambitious overclockers.

A-Trend Xsonic ATC8020

We received an early test sample of this board, so the manual and the CDs were not delivered with it.

We found the design to be advantageous, except that the floppy connector has been inconveniently placed at the bottom of the board. This will make it very difficult to install a floppy drive in the upper drive bays, because you will need a long, flat cable. Fortunately, the floppy disk will soon be obsolete anyway, thanks to CD-R and CD-RW.

This board also comes with a connector for auxiliary power (which was introduced by Intel's P4 specs). Surprisingly, the board also worked without plugging in this power connector.

ABit BD7-RAID

ABit BD7-RAID

Board Revision: ?
BIOS Version: November 6, 2001

Here, ABit takes one step back, not in terms of features or technology, but in terms overclockability: both the RDRAM motherboards TH7-II and the BD7-RAID that we tested here are able to run the next generation Pentium 4 models, clocked at 133 MHz FSB (533 MHz quad-pumped). Other motherboards can do this, too, but none of them are able to run the PCI, AGP and the main memory synchronously, as does the BD7-RAID.

The BIOS includes Abit's SoftMenu III, which lets you set all important CPU parameters. Theoretically, Abit allows up to 250 MHz FSB, although it's a bit idealistic to think that this could ever work - maybe in another few years! In real life, approximately 180 MHz FSB is the absolute limit. And this can be achieved with high-quality memory and frequency-tolerant components.

This board comes with an IDE RAID controller chip from HighPoint (HPT372), supporting four additional IDE drives or hard drives in RAID 0, 1 or 0+1. Users looking towards technology of the future will love to hear that UltraATA/133 is already supported by this controller. This ensures that at least two more generations of drives can be addressed without a bottleneck in the interface.

Unfortunately, the connectors for the RAID chip are placed inconveniently, since standard cables at 40 cm won't reach the top bays of huge tower cases. Abit includes an ATX cover for the connectors, since they have been re-arranged and thus won't fit into the regular ATX standard.

Two DIMM slots aren't much, but it should be enough for most of us. A little comfort could be taken by the fact that you will get six PCI slots in the end.

ABit BD7-RAID

Taking a glance into the box, it seems as if Abit has not left anything out. There is a detailed manual, a CD with the latest drivers and utilities for the motherboard and the sound system, and last but not least a floppy disk containing the RAID controller's drivers for the typical Windows operating systems. This disk is important when installing Windows 2000 or Windows XP: neither of the systems support this RAID controller, because it is simply too new. The picture also shows the ATX cover, a floppy, an 80-pin IDE cable and a game port adapter cable, since the game port is not placed directly on the motherboard.

Due to the excellent overclocking features and the option to run the P4 at 133 MHz FSB within system specs (meaning that the AGP and PCI are not overclocked), combined with hardware features such as on-board sound and IDE RAID, this board wins our recommendation.

AOpen AX4B

AOpen AX4B

Board Revision: ?
BIOS Version: 1.02 (January 14, 2002)

From time to time, motherboards from AOpen are also perfectly suitable for overclocking. This applies to the AX4B, where the CPU core voltage can be adjusted between 1.1 and 1.85 V in 0.025 V increments. Unfortunately, this board does not have many monitoring functions. Though the CPU and system temperature is registered, there is no fan speed control or rotation speed tracing.

Everything else looks fine: there is an AC97 sound system (with codec from Analog Devices), 3 DIMM sockets for up to 3 GB RAM and 5 PCI slots. A small piezo speaker makes your PC speaker obsolete. System integrators will be happy about the AGP card locking system that makes sure the AGP card stays firmly in the slot during system transportation.

At 2196 MHz, AOpen runs slightly below the maximum specified clock speed of the test CPU (Pentium 4 2.2 GHz) - we prefer this rather than getting motherboards that run much faster than they should. Overclocking should be left to the user!

AOpen AX4B

AOpen ships their motherboards in a slim box with a small window. Here you can usually take a quick look at the CPU socket, the chipset cooler and sometimes the DIMM sockets, too.

The AX4B is a typical retail motherboard - the package is nicely designed and contains everything you want. In addition to an excellent manual and a driver CD, there is a short but useful installation guide, a full set of cables and Norton Anti Virus 2001.

Asus P4B266

Asus P4B266

Board Revision: 2.01
BIOS Version: 1005 (December 27, 2001)

The P4B266 from Asus is the only motherboard among the candidates that allows the CPU parameters to be set either in the BIOS or via DIP switches on the board. Home users should definitely stick to the BIOS setup, as it offers maximum comfort and easy handling. Corporate users or system integrators that are going to sell their systems can set the hardware configuration in order to prevent customers changing the settings themselves and rendering the system unusable. An added bonus is the Asus BIOS update software that allows the procedure to be performed directly in any Windows OS rather than in DOS.

Asus placed three DIMM sockets onto the P4B266. Though the 845 chipset only supports four memory rows (which corresponds to two double-sided DIMMs), you will get better upgrading options when only using single-sided DIMMs. Asus also supports ECC memory and allows you to boot from any USB device, which most other boards do not offer, either.

Also, there is a chassis intrusion detection pin which can be used to report unauthorised access to the system hardware.

As for the sound system, Asus generously provides a PCI sound chip rather than an AC97 solution. A CMI8738 from C-Media is present to provide six-channel sound.

At 2219 MHz, Asus exceeds the standard 2.2 GHz by some MHz (the FSB speed is 100.90 MHz), which may explain its excellent performance.

Asus P4B266

You can make many modifications to the CPU settings, starting with Vcore options (1.5 to 1.7 V in 0.025 V increments) and ending with the option to increase the memory voltage by 0.2 V.

1.7 V maximum core voltage may not be enough to break the 3 GHz barrier, but it is definitely good for clock speeds that are 400-600 MHz faster. This board is ready for the future, coming with a USB 2.0 controller from NEC. Asus includes the corresponding adapter cable with 4 ports. In addition, we found an exemplary manual, a driver CD, a short installation guide, a complete set of flat cables and a slot cover containing coaxial digital-in/out ports for the sound system. Asus fans might be pleased about the Asus sticker that comes with this motherboard, too.

Biostar M7TDF

Biostar M7TDF

Board Revision: 1.1
BIOS Version: 1.29 (December 28, 2001)

This motherboard should be available with or without an IDE RAID controller from HighPoint (HPT372). We received the non-RAID version for this review.

The M7TDF differentiates itself from other boards with its 4 DIMM sockets and 6 PCI slots - that's the maximum for desktop systems. Thanks to the numerous DIMM sockets, you can install the absolute maximum of RAM supported by the i845 chipset, which is 4 GB. Due to the chipset's memory row limitation, this will only be possible using single-sided DIMMs.

Some companies seem to have difficulties sticking to the CPU specifications, as they exceed or fall below the regular clock speeds considerably. Biostar keeps strictly to the specs: the 2.2 GHz Pentium 4 ran at exactly the expected clock rate. And there are some basic overclocking options. The FSB speed can be raised up to 166 MHz. Unfortunately, there is no option to modify the CPU core voltage, thus limiting the overclocking range.

Biostar M7TDF

The test sample did not come with the full scope of materials, so we cannot comment on the manual or other items bundled with the package.

The M7TDF could be quite interesting for the OEM market, as it comes with rich features but without any additional stuff that could make the board more expensive than necessary.

Chaintech 9BJDO

Chaintech 9BJDO

Board Revision: 1.2
BIOS Version: 2 (December 17, 2001)

The 9BJDO is an above-average product with some good details. Although it does not have a hardware debug system, as does Abit's, for example, the BIOS screen shows status information while booting. This is quite useful for error searching, but won't help if your graphics card is malfunctioning.

Two DIMM sockets and 5 PCI slots do not sound exciting, but normally you don't need more than that. The 845 chipset does not support more than two double-sided DIMMs anyway. Chaintech makes use of a PCI sound chip from C-Media, rather than integrating a simple AC97 sound solution. The chip provides six-channel sound that uses the line-in as a second line-out port for rear speakers.

All CPU parameters are set in the BIOS. Since the multiplier is determined by each processor, you can only go the hard way and increase the FSB speed in order to overclock your system. Here you can choose anything between 100 and 132 MHz. There are two fan headers on this motherboard which should also be enough, given only a few advanced overclocking options. So this board is for work use only and hardly suitable for freaks, though the CPU runs at 2243 MHz instead of 2200 MHz.

If you are looking for a solid motherboard with an attractive price, Chaintech could be your choice, because there are convincing details: the BIOS shows that the PCI slots 1 and 5 share one interrupt. In addition, the IRQs can be assigned manually to the PCI slots. That's an option which should not be difficult to integrate, but it still isn't available with all manufacturers and boards.

Chaintech 9BJDO

A glance at the PCB shows that there are only a few details. For example, the IDE connectors are directly in front of the PCI slots (see picture). Still, three slots can be used for full-size PCI cards. This motherboard requires all three power connectors to be used (ATX power, AGP aux power and system aux power) - other products can do without at least one of the three.

There is an excellent software package included with the 9BJDO, including a standard driver CD, a manual and several applications such as Norton Anti Virus 2001, AutoSave, Adobe ActiveShare, Imagemore, Appio, S-Stop and E-Walla.

DFI NB70-SC

DFI NB70-SC

Board Revision: A
BIOS Version: A (November 20, 2001)

DFI is particularly successful in the OEM market and continues to penetrate the retail sector, as well. The manufacturer sent us the NB70-SC, which consists of 5 PCI slots, 2 DIMM sockets, a CNR slot and an AGP slot with a card lock system.

At first glance, the floppy connector at the bottom of the board looks unpractical, but this should not be too important, since the floppy disk is slowly disappearing.

The board seems to be designed for the OEM market, because there is no additional hardware. Essentially, this is the best way to offer cheap motherboards. Still, we believe that the PCB could have been smaller.

Overclocking is possible, thanks to the support of various FSB speeds between 100 and 132 MHz, but there is no option to modify either the CPU core or the memory voltage.

DFI NB70-SC

The BIOS is direct: it informs you about components that have to share interrupts and allows you to manually assign interrupts to all PCI devices. In addition, you can alter some chipset parameters that are only offered by DFI.

The package contains a floppy cable, an 80-pin IDE cable, a manual, a driver CD and PC-Cillin 2000 plus Hardware Doctor, which can be used to tap the board's monitoring features.

ECS / Elitegroup P4IBAD

ECS / Elitegroup P4IBAD

Board Revision: 1.0
BIOS Version: 1.0B (December 3, 2001)

The P4IBAD attracts attention with two visual characteristics: first, the PCB is purple, and second, the DDR sockets are blue instead of black. ECS does this in order to distinguish between SDR and DDR SDRAM. Still, these details are all but necessary, as the board usually is not visible after system assembly. Besides that, it's not possible to insert a standard SDRAM DIMM into a DDR DIMM socket, anyway.

ECS offers FSB speeds up to 130 MHz plus the option to raise the core voltage up to 1.85 V. Looks like great overclocking potential! All processor parameters are set directly in the BIOS menu. Here, you can also choose from which device you would like the system to boot. That includes both IDE and SCSI drives as well as network adapters and even USB drives, offering excellent flexibility.

The BIOS is quite friendly and tells you what kind of IDE cable you are using (40-pin ATA/33 or 80-pin ATA/66+) - nice, but pretty useless in the end.

In addition to Chaintech, ECS also misbehaved by running the 2.2 GHz test processor at 2219 MHz. Although it does not have any impact on system stability, it improves performance in a rather unfair manner.

There is an AC97 sound system, which makes the P4IBAD ready for multimedia and games. Three fan headers are present so that additional cooling devices can be attached for the CPU and/or the drives. All three headers can be monitored in the BIOS or via suitable management and monitoring software. The same also applies to system and CPU temperature.

ECS / Elitegroup P4IBAD

Optionally, the P4IBAD is also availabe with an IDE RAID controller from HighPoint. The sound system, a piezo speaker as replacement for the PC speaker and the chassis intrusion detection pin are standard benefits, as is the fact that this board runs perfectly with only the ATX power connector (!).

FIC VC-15

FIC VC-15

Board Revision: ?
BIOS Version: 1.1 (Dezember 17, 2001)

This motherboard is fairly well designed. The power connector is placed just next to the IDE connectors, so you can bind them together in order to reduce the cable chaos inside the case. On the lower edge you can find the floppy connector. Though this placement may seem senseless, it is actually good for running the cable behind the motherboard, thus keeping it far away from PCI cards or other hardware.

Behind the AGP slot is a network controller chip from Realtek, allowing easy connectivity to 10/100 Mbit networks or to DSL. You will only require an additional network adapter if you need both connections simultaneously.

Though the board supports nine clock speeds between 100 and 200 MHz, this is not supported by any options to modify core or RAM voltages, or PCI/AGP ratios. One feature is quite convenient: by pressing certain key combinations, you can directly access the most important sub menus, though this shortcut is not a big deal.

FIC VC-15

FIC includes a full set of cables, a comprehensive manual and two CDs (one with drivers, the other one with Norton Anti Virus and Norton Ghost). As the network connector is integrated into the ATX connectors, you will require a suitable ATX cover which, unfortunately, is not included with the motherboard.

Gigabyte GA-8IRXP P4 Titan

Gigabyte GA-8IRXP P4 Titan

Board Revision: 2.0
BIOS Version: F4 (January 7, 2002)

Not only does Gigabyte have its own DualBIOS (a backup Flash ROM is present to keep the system running if the BIOS update procedure fails), it also has an excellent BIOS version from Award. In addition to the usual boot devices (floppy, all kinds of IDE drives, network), you can boot from USB. Also, interrupts can be assigned freely to each PCI device.

The CPU setup options are extremely valuable. There is a wide range of possible FSB speeds (100 to 200 MHz in 1 MHz increments), and you can increase the CPU core voltage and the AGP voltage in small increments. No other motherboard offers this variety of overclocking features, which is why we also used this one to run a Pentium 4 processor at above 3 GHz.

A PCI sound chip from Creative (CT5880) covers the sound for the latest games and applications. But that's not all, there is also a 100 Mbit network controller from Intel as well as an USB 2.0 controller from NEC. And, to top it off, this board comes with IDE RAID (Promise PDC20265R). In the end, it hardly seems possible to outnumber these features! The six PCI slots and three DIMM sockets look like cheap add-ons in comparison to these additonal features.

Running at 2196 MHz, Gigabyte sticks to the specifications for the test processor (Pentium 4 2.2 GHz).

Gigabyte GA-8IRXP P4 Titan

Included in the package is an ATX cover (required for the network connector), one USB adapter for using the on-board USB ports 3 & 4, a second USB adapter for USB 2.0, two 80-pin IDE cables, one floppy cable, an excellent manual and a quick installation guide.

The GA-8IRXP was the first motherboard to run a Pentium 4 Northwood at over 3 GHz. Thanks to these outstanding overclocking abilities and the rich hardware features, we can only recommend the Gigabyte board.

Intel D845BG

Intel D845BG

Board Revision: 01
BIOS Version: P02 (January 17, 2002)

Only few years ago, Intel motherboards had a terrible image in the retail sector: they did not perform well and there were hardly any interesting features. But the chipset leader is not asleep. The D845BG provides good solutions in the details, and the remaining performance lag has become so small that it's not worth talking about anymore.

There are 6 PCI slots as well as 2 DIMM sockets for peripheral and memory upgrades. By the way, Intel is the only manufacturer that ships its motherboard without the CNR slot. This expansion slot (Communications and Network Riser) can be used to plug in cheap audio/ network/ modem cards. As you can imagine, this kind of interface is primarily used in the business sector.

Though this motherboard does not support USB 2.0 (which is offered by the D845BGSE), you will get 7 instead of the typical 4 USB ports. Four of them can instantly be used, as they've been placed between the other connectors on the ATX back panel, so no adapters are required.

Several monitoring features have been added to keep an eye on temperatures and fan rotation speeds (for all three headers). Also, there is an AC97 sound system, making this motherboard ready for multimedia. Finally, one 100 Mbit network controller is ready to connect your system to the Internet or to other networks.

It's pretty well known and certainly understandable that Intel won't ever add overclocking features to their boards. First, it's bad for the CPU business and second, stability and features are the primary directive - which is reasonable enough. One of the nice features of this motherboard is that it only took about 30 seconds to boot the Windows 2000 test installation. Using Windows XP, this time would even be shorter, thanks to Intel's Application Accelerator software and the Rapid Boot BIOS of this motherboard. By the way, the latter can be programmed directly from within Windows. Finally, you can do without the boot disks when flashing the BIOS.

Intel includes a manual, driver CD, all the cables you need and software such as Norton Internet Security (a firewall for home use), NTI CD Maker (CD recording software), Real Player 8 and Intel Active Monitor.

Lucky Star P4A845D

Lucky Star P4A845D

Board Revision: 0.1
BIOS Version: 1.0 (November 5, 2001)

The P4A845D comes with 5 PCI slots and 2 DIMM sockets (maximum 2 GB). It is the only board that supports neither Wake-On-LAN nor Wake-On-Modem, the former of which is a useful feature. There are several monitoring options (CPU and system temperature, fan rotation speeds) and lots of FSB settings between 100 and 132 MHz. Unfortunately, Lucky Star does not provide the option to modify the CPU core voltage. An AC97 sound system makes the P4A845D ready for all kinds of multimedia.

This motherboard scores points for its layout, because the PCB is pretty clean except for the power connectors, which are all over the board - but that's quite normal with other motherboards too. No components would prevent you from installing full-size PCI cards, and even the AGP is not hindered by other motherboard components. All flat cable connectors are at the very edge of the board.

Lucky Star P4A845D

The P4845D is also available with an IDE RAID controller from Promise (PDC20265R). In the package, we found an average manual, a driver CD an a full set of cables. Unfortunately, there is no adapter cable to make use of USB ports 3 and 4.

Due to the limited hardware features, we expect the Lucky Star board to be available at very attractive prices.

MSI 845 Ultra

MSI 845 Ultra

Board Revision: A1
BIOS Version: 3.2 (January 2002)

Just like Gigabyte, MSI offers the most features possible. Let's start with the 3 DIMM sockets and 5 PCI slots. In addition, there is an IDE RAID controller from Promise (PCD20265R), a PCI sound chip from C-Media and a USB 2.0 controller chip from NEC.

The placement of all flat cable connectors and the power connector is well thought out, as all cables can be gathered and tucked away to the upper regions of the computer case. Both connectors of the RAID controller are in the lower region and might interfere with long PCI cards. In order to avoid this, you can put the cables behind the motherboard.

Only a few manufacturers use fans for cooling their northbridge chips - MSI is one of them. This is quite useless - we didn't even need it when running a Pentium 4 system at 133 MHz instead of 100 MHz FSB (see Behind The Silicon Curtain: Exclusive Test Of The P4/2666 With 533 MHz Rambus). Usually, these kinds of fans are low-quality products that are primarily meant to have the board look faster.

MSI uses a BIOS from American Megatrends (AMI). Although it allows you to boot from all possible ATA/ATAPI or SCSI devices as well as network adapters, you cannot boot from USB (that would be useful for USB CD or hard drives). Also, there is no way to assign interrupts manually.

MSI 845 Ultra

The 845 Ultra is shipped with an excellent manual, a complete set of cables, a CD with drivers and utilities, a driver disk for the RAID controller and two USB adapter cables. The first is required for using the standard USB ports 3 and 4; the second one will give you four ports for the integrated USB 2.0 controller.

QDI PlatiniX-2D

QDI PlatiniX-2D

Board Revision: 1.0
BIOS Version: 1.3 (February 8, 2002)

The PlatiniX 2D is available in several hardware configurations. The standard features consist of 6 PCI slots, monitoring features, a piezo speaker substituting the PC speaker, an AC97 sound system and several overclocking features. You can also get it with a 100 Mbit network controller from Intel and/or a Promise IDE RAID controller.

The overclocking features are quite interesting, since they are much more than a bonus. There are many FSB clock speeds to choose from (up to 126 MHz) and the CPU core can be increased up to 0.3 V (up to 1.85 V for the Pentium 4 Northwood). In addition, the AGP and memory voltage can be increased by 10%.

The layout is straightforward, except for the floppy connector, which is not placed ideally. Still you can see that nothing will obstruct the AGP card (see picture).

QDI PlatiniX-2D

Unfortunately, we did not receive this motherboard in a complete package, so we can offer no additional comments on the motherboard or the software.

QDI PlatiniX 2S

QDI PlatiniX 2S

Board Revision: 1.0
BIOS Version: 1.0 (December 11, 2001)

Contrary to our expectations, the PlatiniX 2S has nothing in common with the PlatiniX 2D, except for the chipset and the QDI name. The 2S has 5 PCI slots instead of 6. Network and IDE RAID controllers are optional with both motherboards, and the AC97 sound system is standard for both.

There are some differences in the CPU settings: while the PlatiniX 2D can be overclocked pretty well, the 2S only offers the basic options. PlatiniX 2S is also available with ATI's Rage Mobility, which is basically a notebook graphics chip. Yet it is suitable for on-board solutions as long as you don't want high-performance 3D graphics.

Both motherboards allow a manual interrupt assignment.

QDI PlatiniX 2S

QDI ships quite a lot of add-ons with the PlatiniX 2S. There's a useful and comprehensive manual, a driver CD, Norton Anti Virus, one IDE and one IDE-80 floppy cable, some jumpers and a floppy disk with drivers for the IDE RAID controller (if present).

Soltek SL-85DRC

Soltek SL-85DRC

Board Revision: ?
BIOS Version: K1 (December 5, 2001)

This Soltek board has a respectable list of features: 6 PCI slots, 2 DIMM sockets, CNR slot, AGP 4x, AC97 sound system, 3 fan headers and excellent overclocking options.

You can alter the CPU voltage in 0.025 V increments between the range of 1.1 and 1.85 V. Of course, there are several clock speeds between 100 and 133 MHz from which to choose. Soltek also gives you the option to increase the DIMM voltage between 2.5 and 2.8 V.

The layout could have been further optimized, seeing as there is still quite a bit of space left between the DIMM sockets and the northbridge. At the bottom of the board are the two IDE connectors; unfortunately the cables will block some PCI slots, but this should not be too problematic, since there are six in total.

All of the power connectors are in one place, so you can bind them together and keep the system tidy.

Soltek SL-85DRC

Soltek has grown quite a bit and ships the motherboards with many add-ons. Besides a manual and two CDs there was a temperature sensor that can be used to survey any component in range, plus a bunch of software like PC Cillin 2000, Virtual Drive, Partition Magic 6.0 and Drive Image 4.0.

Soyo P4 Fire Dragon

Soyo P4 Fire Dragon

Board Revision: ?
BIOS Version: 1.0

The first thing that you'll notice about Soyo's P4 Fire Dragon is the huge box. This manufacturer takes a completely different route, and has the board packaged American style. Inside the box is quite a lot of hardware: 6 PCI slots, AGP 4x, 2 DIMM sockets, a total of 5 fan headers, monitoring features, 100 Mbit network controller from Intel, FireWire controller from Texas Instruments, an IDE RAID controller from HighPoint (HPT372) and last but not least, a PCI sound chip from C-Media, plus a Slot Cover with one each, digital line in and out.

Also, this motherboard offers excellent features for overclocking. FSB speed can be adjusted between 100 and 150 MHz (single MHz increments), and you can modify the CPU core voltage between 1.1 and 1.85 V. There are also some options to run the AGP and the main memory at increased voltage.

Still, there are some issues that we found: the IDE RAID controller could not be completely disabled. Also, you cannot assign interrupts manually, which is sometimes the only way to get older PCI cards running.

Soyo P4 Fire Dragon

As you can see, the feature list is quite long. Performance level is also excellent, which has the advantage of slight overclocking: the test CPU ran at 2220 MHz instead of 2200 MHz.

The huge box contains three 80-pin IDE cables, a floppy cable, an ATX cover, a manual, a driver CD and a chip card, plus the corresponding reading device required for Soyo's security system. The computer boots only if the chip card is inserted.

Soyo obviously has a motherboard with one of the best feature sets ever. That, combined with its great overclocking features and high performance makes it the third board that we recommend in this test.

Transcend TS-ABR4/NR

Transcend TS-ABR4/NR

Board Revision: ?
BIOS Version: 1.0

Transcend's TS-ABR4/NR has 5 PCI slots, 2 DIMM sockets, an AGP 4x Pro slot, AC97 sound system with two line-ins plus a Promise IDE RAID controller. We found the on-board network controller from Intel to be quite useful, too, as you can easily hook up your computer to DSL or other networks via RJ45 cable.

Transcend sticks exactly to the specifications: the 2.2 GHz processor was run at 2199.92 MHz. For overclocking, the FSB speed can be adjusted between 100 and 132 MHz in single MHz increments. Unfortunately, there is no way to increase the CPU core voltage, which could have made it possible for extreme overclocking. Three fan headers are also included.

Only a few motherboards support booting from USB devices, and Transcend is one of them. Just think about a ZIP disk with a small Linux installation, or booting from a USB CD-ROM to install Windows. The BIOS also gives you the option to assign interrupts manually. You can also find out which interrupts are shared. It's 4 and 5 with the TS-ABR4/NR.

Transcend TS-ABR4/NR

The box includes all the necessary cables, a driver disk with the RAID drivers, a comprehensive manual and a CD with drivers and utilities.

Zida Tomato Board A845DD

Zida Tomato Board A845DD

Board Revision:
BIOS Version: 1.01 (November 20, 2001)

Zida is a lesser-known manufacturer. Some years ago, they first participated in one of the motherboard reviews with a BX board. Today, Zida provides the latest high-tech products, too.

The A845DD comes with 6 PCI slots, 2 DIMM sockets, an AC97 sound system and nothing else. That may sound negative, but for OEMs and users on low budget, it's an advantage, as there are no additional components to jack up the price. The Tomato Board could be for you, if you want a 845 board with an attractive price.

The layout is clean: the two power connectors are placed side by side, making it easy to keep the cable chaos as minimal as possible. The floppy connector at the lower edge of the board is practical, since you can put the cable at the back side of the motherboard.

Zida Tomato Board A845DD

This is a simple motherboard, which automatically reduces the number of possible issues. Performance and stability were pretty good and the package is complete with manual, drivers and cables.

Test Setup

Hardware
Processor Intel Pentium 4/2200 MHz
400 MHz QDR FSB
Memory 256 MB, PC2100, CL2.0, Micron
Hard Drive Western Digital WD1000JB, 100 GB, 7.200 rpm, 2 MB Cache
Graphics Card GeForce 3
Memory: 64 MB DDR-SDRAM
Memory Clock: 400 MHz
Chip Clock: 250 MHz
Drivers & Software
IDE/AGP Driver Intel Intel Application Accelerator 1.12
Graphic Driver Detonator 4 Series V23.11
DirectX Version 8.1
OS Windows 2000 SP2
Benchmarks and Settings
Quake III Arena Retail Version
command line = +set cd_nocd 1 +set s_initsound 0
Graphics detail set to 'Normal', 640x480x16
Benchmark using 'Q3DEMO1'
ViewPerf Version 6.1.2
1280x1024x16x85
mpeg4 encoding Flask V0.6 (MPEG 3)
DivX V4.02.01b
Compression: 100
Data Rate: 1500Kbit
720x480 Pixel, 25 fps
no Audio
Sysmark 2001 Patch 3
Lame Lame 3.89 MMX, SSE, SSE 2
WinACE V2.04, 178 MB Wave-Date, Best Compression,
Dictonary 4096 KB
Unreal Tournament Version 4.36
Timedemo 1
Demoplay utbench

Benchmark Results

Quake 3 Arena

Quake 3 Arena

Quake 3 Arena

Quake 3 Arena

Quake 3 Arena

Unreal Tournament

Unreal Tournament

Unreal Tournament

MP3 - Lame Encoder

MP3 - Lame Encoder

MPEG-4 - Flask 0.6

MPEG-4 - Flask 0.6

SPEC ViewPerf

SPEC ViewPerf

SPEC ViewPerf

SPEC ViewPerf

SPEC ViewPerf

SPEC ViewPerf

SPEC ViewPerf

WinACE 2.04 - Compression

WinACE 2.04 - Compression

Sysmark 2000

Sysmark 2000

Sysmark 2000

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.

Feature Tables

Hersteller A-Trend Abit Aopen Asus Biostar
Model Xsonic ATC8020 DB7-RAID AX4B P4B266 M7TDF
Chipset
Socket mPGA478 mPGA478 mPGA478 mPGA478 mPGA478
Clock (CPU/Bus) 2199.88 / 99.63 2199.91 / 100.0 2196.24 / 99.83 2219,76/100,90 2200.01 / 100.00
Northbridge i845D i845D i845D i845D i845D
Southbridge i82801BA i82801BA i82801BA i82801BA i82801BA
Northbridge Fan no no no no no
Form Factor ATX ATX ATX ATX ATX
Memory
Maximum RAM 2048 MB 2048 MB 3072 MB 3072 MB 4096 MB
DIMM-Sockets 2, DDR 2, DDR 3, DDR 3, DDR 4, DDR
Memory Type DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered
ECC-Support no yes no yes no
Standard Components
Size (LxH) 30,5 cm x 22,5 cm 30.5 x 24.4 cm 30,5 cm x 24,4 cm 30,5 cm x 24,0 cm 30.5 x 22.5 cm
PCI Slots 6x 32 Bit 6x 32 Bit 5x 32 Bit 6x 32 Bit 6x 32 Bit
AGP 4x 4x 4x 4x 4x
AGP Card Lock yes yes yes yes yes
ACR / AMR / CNR no / no / yes no / no / yes no / no / yes no / no / yes no / no / yes
Parallel Ports 1 1 1 1 1
Serial Ports 2 2 2 2 2
USB internal/external 2/2 3/1 2/2 2/2 2/2
Fan Headers 3 3 3 3 2
IDE Controller 2x UltraATA/100 2x UltraATA/100 2x UltraATA/100 2x UltraATA/100 2x UltraATA/100
Additional Components
Piezo Speaker OnBoard no yes yes no no
Wake on LAN (WOL) yes yes yes yes yes
Wake on Modem (WOM) yes yes yes yes yes
IrDA-Port yes yes yes yes yes
Chassis Intrusion Detection yes no yes no
Temperature Monitoring CPU1, CPU2, System CPU / System CPU / System CPU / System CPU / System
Fan Status Monitoring CPU, Power, Chassis CPU, 2x Chassis no CPU, 2x Chassis CPU, Chassis
Network Controller optional no no no no
IDE RAID Controller optional, Promise Highpoint HPT372 no no optional HighPoint HPT372
Firewire-Controller no no no USB 2.0 no
SCSI-Controller no no no no no
Sound System
Type AC97 + PCI Chip AC97 AC97 PCI Sound Chip AC97
Hersteller/ Chip SIGMATEL STAC9708T,
Creative CT5880
Realtek ALC200 Analog Device AD1885 C-Media CMI8738 Realtek ALC201A
Connectors (Int/Ext) 3/3 3/3 2/3 3/3 3/3
External Line (Out/In/Mic) 1/1/1 1/1/1 1/1/1 1/1/1 1/1/1
Internal Line (Out/In/CD) 1/1/1 0/1/2 1/0/1 1/1/1 1/1/1
Setup
CPU Config BIOS BIOS BIOS Bios/DIP BIOS
Selectable Multipliers auto 8 - 23 / 1 8 - 24 / 1 8.0 - 24.0 / 1 auto
FSB Range / Increments 100-130 / 2-3 100 - 250 / 1 100 - 200 / 1 100 - 200 / 1 100 - 166 / 1
Vcore Range / Increments n/a 1.100 - 1.625 / 0.025 1.100 - 1.850 / 0.025 1.500 - 1.700 / 0.025 n/a
Vram / Increments n/a 2.5 - 2.7 / 1 n/a 2.5 - 2.7 / 0.1 n/a
Vchipset / Increments n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Board and BIOS Details
Bios Award Award Award Award Award
Version 1.2 ? 1.02 1005 1.29
Date Dec 4, 2001 nov 6, 2001 Jan 14, 2002 Dec 27, 2001 Dec 28, 2001
Motherboard Revision ? ? ? 2.01 1.1
Boot Devices Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN, ATA133 RAID Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN, USB-FDD/ZIP/CD/HD Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN, USB-FDD/ZIP/CD/HD Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN
Manual Interrupt Assignment no yes no yes no
Special Features n/a FSB Ratio 3:1, 4:1, fixed
Shared Interrupts ? ? ? ? ?
Clock Generator ICS 950202CF Realtek RTM360-408 CYP628152 ICS 950209CF CYP622236
Other
Layout Issues See Evaluation See Evaluation See Evaluation See Evaluation See Evaluation
Modell Variations ATC8020/GLR (Intel LAN, Promise RAID) Pro Version On-Board RAID
Shipment / Utilities
Manual / Qualität yes yes, excellent yes, excellent yes, excellent yes
Languages English English English, German English English
Quick Setup Guide no no yes yes no
Cables 1x IDE-80, 1x Floppy 1x IDE-80, 1x Floppy 1x IDE-80, 1x Floppy 1x IDE-Kabel (UDMA-100), 1x Floppy-Kabel 1x IDE-80, 1x Floppy
USB Adapter no no no 1 x USB-Adapter (4x)
Software See Evaluation 1x Driver CD
Other 1 x Quick Reference Card
1 x Quick Setup Guide
1 x Sound-Adapter (Digital)
1 x Asus Sticker

Features Table, Continued

Manufacturer Chaintech DFI ECS Elitegroup FIC Gigabyte
Model 9BJDO NB70-SC P4IBAD VC15 GA-8IRXP
Chipset
Socket mPGA478 mPGA478 mPGA478 mPGA478 mPGA478
Clock (CPU/Bus) 2243.92 / 102.00 MHz 2199.82 / 100.00 2219.77 / 100.90 2204.99 / 100.21 2196.24 / 99.83
Northbridge i845D i845D i845D i845D i845D
Southbridge i82801BA i82801BA i82801BA i82801BA i82801BA
Northbridge Fan no no no no no
Form Factor ATX ATX ATX ATX ATX
Memory
Maximum RAM 2048 MB 2048 MB 2048 MB 2048 MB 2048 MB
DIMM-Sockets 2, DDR 2, DDR 2, DDR 3, DDR 3, DDR
Memory Type DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered
ECC-Support no yes no no no
Standard Components
Size (LxH) 30,5 cm x 22,0 cm 30,5 cm x 24,4 cm 30,4 cm x 24,4 cm 30.5 x 22.0 cm 30.6 x 24.4 cm
PCI Slots 5x 32 Bit 5x 32 Bit 6x 32 Bit 6x 32 Bit 6x 32 Bit
AGP 4x 4x 4x 4x 4x
AGP Card Lock yes yes yes no yes
ACR / AMR / CNR no / no / yes no / no / yes no / no / yes no / no / yes no / no / yes
Parallel Ports 1 1 1 1 1
Serial Ports 2 2 2 2 2
USB internal/external 2/2 2/2 2/2 2/2 2/2
Fan Headers 2 3 3 2 3
IDE Controller 2x UltraATA/100 2x UltraATA/100 2x UltraATA/100 2x UltraATA/100 2x UltraATA/100
Additional Components
Piezo Speaker OnBoard yes yes yes no no
Wake on LAN (WOL) yes yes yes yes yes
Wake on Modem (WOM) yes yes yes yes yes
IrDA-Port yes yes yes yes yes
Chassis Intrusion Detection no yes yes no no
Temperature Monitoring CPU, System CPU / System CPU / System CPU / System CPU
Fan Status Monitoring CPU, Chassis CPU, 2x Chassis CPU, 2x Chassis CPU / System CPU, Power, Chassis
Network Controller no no no Realtek RTL8100L Intel 100 Mbit
IDE RAID Controller no no optional, HighPoint no Promise PDC20265
Firewire-Controller no no no no USB 2.0 (NEC)
SCSI-Controller no no no no no
Sound System
Type PCI Chip AC97 AC97 AC97 PCI
Hersteller/ Chip C-Media CMI8738 Realtek ALC201A Realtek ALC201A Realtek ALC201A Creative CT5880
Connectors (Int/Ext) 3/2 3/3 3/2 2/3 2/3
External Line (Out/In/Mic) 1/1/1 1/1/1 1/1/1 1/1/1 1/1/1
Internal Line (Out/In/CD) 1/0/1 1/1/1 1/0/1 0/1/1 0/1/1
Setup
CPU Config BIOS BIOS BIOS BIOS BIOS
Selectable Multipliers auto auto auto auto auto
FSB Range / Increments 100 - 132 / 1 100-132 / 1 100-130 / 2-3 100, 102, 105, 126, 130, 133, 136, 166, 200 100 - 200 / 1
Vcore Range / Increments n/a n/a 1.100 - 1.850 / 0.025 n/a 1.100 - 1.850 / 0.025
Vram / Increments n/a n/a n/a n/a 2.6 / 2.7 / 2.8
Vchipset / Increments n/a n/a n/a n/a AGP 1.6 / 1.7 / 1.8
Board and BIOS Details
Bios Award Award Award Award Award
Version 2 A 1.0B 1.1 F4
Date Dec 17, 2001 nov 20, 2001 Dec 3, 2001 Dec 17, 2001 Jan 7, 2002
Motherboard Revision 1.2 A 1.0 ? 2.0
Boot Devices Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN, USB-FDD/ZIP/CD/HD Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN, USB-FDD/ZIP/CD/HD
Manual Interrupt Assignment yes yes yes yes yes
Special Features BIOS Post Codes Displayed for Debugging Buffer Strength Control ATA 66/100 Cable Message Hard Disk Boot Priority, shortcuts To BIOS Submenus
Shared Interrupts 1+5 1+5, 2/AC97, 4/USB ? ? ?
Clock Generator Realtek RTM660-109R Realtek RTM550-106R ICS 950202CF ICS950208BF
Other
Layout Issues See Evaluation See Evaluation none See Evaluation See Evaluation
Modell Variations HighPoint HPT372 optional
Shipment / Utilities
Manual / Qualität yes yes, average yes, comprehensive yes, comprehensive yes, excellent
Languages English Eng, Ger, Fre, Spa English English English
Quick Setup Guide no yes no no no
Cables 1x IDE-80, 1x Floppy 1x IDE-80, 1x Floppy 1x IDE-80, 1x Floppy 1x IDE-80, 1x IDE-40, 1x Floppy 1x IDE-80, 1x Floppy
USB Adapter no no no no USB 2.0
Software Norton Anti Virus 2001, AutoSave, Adobe ActiveShare, Imagemore, Appio, X-Stop, E-Walla PC Cillin 2000, Hardware Doctor Norton Ghost, Norton Anti Virus
Other Only one Power Connector Dual BIOS

Features Table, Continued

Manufacturer Intel Lucky Star MSI QDI QDI
Model D845BG P4A845D 845 Ultra Platinix-2D PlatiniX-2S
Chipset
Socket mPGA478 mPGA478 mPGA478 mPGA478 mPGA478
Clock (CPU/Bus) 2192.88 / 99.68 2191.87 / 99.63 2205.00 / 100.40 2191.87 / 99.63 2200.02 / 100.0
Northbridge i845D i845D i845D i845D i845D
Southbridge i82801BA i82801BA i82801BA i82801BA i82801BA
Northbridge Fan no no no no no
Form Factor ATX ATX ATX ATX ATX
Memory
Maximum RAM 2048 MB 2048 MB 2048 MB 2048 MB
DIMM-Sockets 2, DDR 2, DDR 2, DDR 2, DDR 2, DDR
Memory Type DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered
ECC-Support no no yes yes yes
Standard Components
Size (LxH) 30.5 x 22.5 cm 30,5 cm x 24,5 cm 30.5 x 22.0 cm 30.5 x 22.4 cm 20.5 x 24.4 cm
PCI Slots 6x 32 Bit 5x 32 Bit 5x 32 Bit 6x 32 Bit 5x 32 Bit
AGP 4x 4x 4x 4x 4x
AGP Card Lock optional no yes no yes
ACR / AMR / CNR no / no / no no / no / yes no / no / yes no / no /yes no / no / yes
Parallel Ports 1 1 1 1 1
Serial Ports 1 2 2 2 2
USB internal/external 3/4 (USB 1.1) 2/2 2/2 2/2 2/2
Fan Headers 3 3 3 3 3
IDE Controller 2x UltraATA/100 2x UltraATA/100 2x UltraATA/100 2x UltraATA/100 2x UltraATA/100
Additional Components
Piezo Speaker OnBoard yes yes no yes yes
Wake on LAN (WOL) yes no yes yes yes
Wake on Modem (WOM) yes no yes yes yes
IrDA-Port yes yes yes yes yes
Chassis Intrusion Detection no no no no yes
Temperature Monitoring CPU, System CPU, System CPU, System CPU, System CPU, System
Fan Status Monitoring CPU, Power, Chassis CPU, Power, Chassis CPU, Chassis CPU, 2x Chassis CPU, 2x Chassis
Network Controller Intel 100 Mbit no no optional Intel 100 Mbit optional Intel 100 Mbit
IDE RAID Controller no optional, Promise Promise PDC20276 optional Promise PDC20265 optional Promise PDC20265
Firewire-Controller no no USB 2.0 (NEC) no no
SCSI-Controller optional CNR Slot no no no no
Sound System
Type AC97 AC97 PCI AC97 AC97
Hersteller/ Chip Analog Devices AD1885 Realtek ALC201A C-Media CMI8738 Cirrus Logic CS4299 Analog Devices AD1881
Connectors (Int/Ext) 2/3 3/3 3/3 3/3 3/3
External Line (Out/In/Mic) 1/1/1 1/1/1 1/1/1 1/1/1 1/1/1
Internal Line (Out/In/CD) 0/1/1 1/1/1 1/1/1 0/2/1 0/2/1
Setup
CPU Config BIOS BIOS BIOS BIOS BIOS
Selectable Multipliers auto auto auto auto auto
FSB Range / Increments auto (100) 100-130 / 2-3 100 - 200 / 1 100, 105, 108, 114, 120, 123, 126 100, 105, 108, 114, 120, 123, 126
Vcore Range / Increments n/a n/a 1.500 - 1.650 / 0.025 - 0.075 / + 3.000 V / 0.025 n/a
Vram / Increments n/a n/a 2.5 / 2.6 + 10% n/a
Vchipset / Increments n/a n/a V-AGP 1.5 / 1.6 V-AGP + 10% n/a
Board and BIOS Details
Bios AMI Award AMI Award Award
Version P02 1.0 3.2 1.3 1.0
Date Jan 17, 2002 nov 5, 2001 Jan, 2002 Feb 8, 2002 Dec 11, 2001
Motherboard Revision 01 0.1 A1 1.0 1.0
Boot Devices Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN Floppy, all attached ATA/ATAPI, SCSI Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN
Manual Interrupt Assignment no yes no no
Special Features Rapid Boot BIOS n/a
Shared Interrupts ? ? ? ? ?
Clock Generator ICS 950201AF ICS 950202CF ICS 950213AF ICS 950208BF CYP 636658
Other
Layout Issues none none See Evaluation See Evaluation See Evaluation
Modell Variations D845BGSE w/ USB 2.0, also MicroATX Version available Promise IDE RAID On-Board ATI Mobility Graphics
Shipment / Utilities
Manual / Qualität yes yes, average yes, excellent yes, excellent yes, excellent
Languages multi-language available English English English English
Quick Setup Guide ? no yes no no
Cables 1x IDE-80, 1x Floppy 1x IDE-80, 1x Floppy 1x IDE-80, 1x Floppy 1x IDE-80, 1x Floppy 1x IDE-80, 1x Floppy
USB Adapter no no no no
Software Intel Express Installer, Norton Internet Security, Intel Active Monitor, Real Player Basic, CD-Maker 2000, DFX, Shockwave Norton Anti Virus 2001
Other WHQL Certified Jumpers, Ultra ATA Driver Disk

Features Table, Continued

Manufacturer Soltek Soyo Transcend Zida
Model SL-85DR-C P4IY Fire Dragon TS-ABR4/NR A845DD
Chipset
Socket mPGA478 mPGA478 mPGA478 mPGA478
Clock (CPU/Bus) 2221,93/101,0 2220.75 / 100.94 2199,92/100,00 2191.88 / 99.63
Northbridge i845D i845D i845D i845D
Southbridge i82801BA i82801BA i82801BA i82801BA
Northbridge Fan no no no no
Form Factor ATX ATX ATX ATX
Memory
Maximum RAM 2048 MB 2048 MB 2048 MB 2048 MB
DIMM-Sockets 2, DDR 2, DDR 2, DDR 2, DDR
Memory Type DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered DDR-SDRAM, unbuffered
ECC-Support no no no
Standard Components
Size (LxH) 30,5 cm x 21,0 cm 30,5 cm x 24,5 cm 30,5 cm x 24,5 cm 30,5 cm x 22,0 cm
PCI Slots 6x 32 Bit 6x 32 Bit 5x 32 Bit 6x 32 Bit
AGP 4x 4x 4x (Pro) 4x
AGP Card Lock no no no no
ACR / AMR / CNR no / no / yes no / no / yes no / no / yes no / no / yes
Parallel Ports 1 1 1 1
Serial Ports 2 2 2 2
USB internal/external 2/2 2/2 2/2 2/2
Fan Headers 3 5 3 2
IDE Controller 2x UltraATA/100 2x UltraATA/100 2x UltraATA/100 2x UltraATA/100
Additional Components
Piezo Speaker OnBoard no no no no
Wake on LAN (WOL) yes yes yes yes
Wake on Modem (WOM) yes yes yes yes
IrDA-Port yes yes yes yes
Chassis Intrusion Detection no no no no
Temperature Monitoring CPU1, CPU2, System CPU, System CPU CPU / System
Fan Status Monitoring CPU, 2x Chassis CPU, 2x Chassis CPU, 2x Chassis CPU / Chassis
Network Controller no Intel 100 Mbit Intel 100 Mbit optional
IDE RAID Controller no HighPoint HPT372 Promise PDC20265R no
Firewire-Controller no Texas Instruments no no
SCSI-Controller no no no no
Sound System
Type AC97 PCI AC97 AC97
Hersteller/ Chip Realtek ALC201A C-Media CMI8738 SIGMATEL STAC9721T Cirrus Logic CS4299
Connectors (Int/Ext) 3/2 3/3 3/3 2/3
External Line (Out/In/Mic) 1/1/1 1/1/1 1/1/1 1/1/1
Internal Line (Out/In/CD) 0/1/1 SPDIF & Coax In and Out 1/1/1 0/1/1
Setup
CPU Config Bios/DIP BIOS BIOS BIOS
Selectable Multipliers auto auto auto
FSB Range / Increments 100 - 133 / 5 100 - 250 / 1 100 - 132 / 1 100-130 / 2-3
Voltage
Vcore Range / Increments 1.100 - 1.850 / 0.025 1.100 - 1.850 / 0.025 n/a n/a
Vram / Increments 2.5 - 2.8 / 0.1 2.52, 2.56, 2.59, 2.61, 2.65, 2.68 n/a n/a
Vchipset / Increments n/a V-AGP 1.53, 1.56, 1.59, 1.62, 1.65, 1.68 n/a n/a
Board and BIOS Details
Bios Award Award Award Award
Version K1 1.0 1.00 1.01
Date Dec 5, 2001 ? nov 22, 2001 nov 20, 2001
Motherboard Revision ? ? ? ?
Boot Devices Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN, USB-FDD/ZIP/CD/HD Floppy, LS120, SCSI, CD, HD 0-3, ZIP100, LAN
Manual Interrupt Assignment yes no yes no
Special Features n/a RAID Controller disable does not work Buffer Strength Control
Shared Interrupts ? ? 4+5 ?
Clock Generator Realtek RTM660-109R ICS 950202CF Realtek RTM660-109R ICS 950202CF
Other
Layout Issues See Evaluation See Evaluation See Evaluation See Evaluation
Modell Variations AMI-BIOS Limited Edition
Shipment / Utilities
Manual / Qualität yes, comprehensive yes, excellent yes, good yes, brief
Languages English English English English
Quick Setup Guide Software Manual included no no yes
Cables 1x IDE-80, 1x Floppy 3x IDE-80, 1x Floppy 1x IDE-80, 1x Floppy 1x IDE-80, 1x Floppy
USB Adapter no no no
Software PC Cillin 200, Virtual Drive, Partition Magic 6.0, Drive Image 4.0 Norton Anti Virus 2001
Other Temperature Sensor, Worldwide Contact Addresses Included

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