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9 Intel 845D Motherboards Roundup

March 11, 2002



It didn't take a lot of time for mobo makers to develop and release mainboards on the i845D chipset. Why is this chipset so popular? There is nothing strange - although SiS has grown much stronger and VIA and Athlon chipsets are showing excellent performance Intel is still a leader. Remember the i845 which was throttled by SDR SDRAM? However, the companies developed their boards without a delay. Just before it they released boards on the terrible i850. It's obvious that the OEM market is not interested in a pure performance. There is something more important.

Fortunately, the i845D is different. Although it costs more, it has an excellent price/performance ratio.

Test setup

Testbed:

Software:

  • Windows 2000 Professional SP2
  • DirectX 8.1
  • Intel chipset software installation utility 3.20.1008
  • Intel Ultra ATA Storage driver 6.20
  • NVIDIA Detonator v22.50 (VSync=Off)
  • RazorLame 1.1.4 + Lame codec 3.89
  • WinZip 8.1
  • VirtualDub 1.4.7 + DivX codec 4.12
  • WinAce 2.11
  • eTestingLabs Business Winstone 2001
  • eTestingLabs Content Creation Winstone 2002
  • BAPCo & MadOnion SYSmark 2001 Office Productivity
  • BAPCo & MadOnion SYSmark 2001 Internet Content Creation
  • 3DStudio MAX 4.2
  • SPECviewperf 6.1.2
  • MadOnion 3DMark 2001
  • idSoftware Quake III Arena 1.30
  • Expendable Demo
  • DroneZmarK

Board AOpen AX4B Pro ASUS P4B266 ASUS P4B266-E ASUS P4B266-M Chaintech 9BJD
Links AOpen AX4B Pro ASUS P4B266 ASUS P4B266-E ASUS P4B266-M Chaintech 9BJD
Chipset i845D (RG82845 (MCH) + FW82801BA (ICH2))
Processor support Intel Pentium 4, Socket 478
Memory 3 DDR 3 DDR 3 DDR 2 DDR 2 DDR
Expansion slots AGP/ 5 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 6 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 6 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 3 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 5 PCI/ CNR
I/O ports 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2
USB 2 USB 1.1 + 1 connector for 2 USB 1.1 2 USB 1.1 + 1 connector for 2 USB 1.1 + 2 connectors for 2 USB 2.0 2 USB 1.1 + 2 USB 2.0 + 1 connector for 2 USB 1.1 + 1 connector for 2 USB 2.0 2 USB 1.1 + 1 connector for 2 USB 1.1 2 USB 1.1 + 1 connector for 2 USB 1.1
Integrated IDE controller 2 channels ATA100 Bus Master IDE (with support up to 4 ATAPI devices)
Network controller - - 10 BaseT/ 100 BaseTX Realtek RTL8100, 10 BaseT/ 100 BaseTX -
External IDE controller - - Promise PDC 20276 - -
Sound AC'97 Audio, codec Analog Devices AD1885 PCI Audio, C-Media CMI8738/PCI-6ch-MX PCI Audio, C-Media CMI8738/PCI-6ch-MX AC'97 Audio, codec Analog Devices AD1885 PCI Audio, C-Media CMI8738/PCI-6ch-LX
I/O controller Winbond W83627HF-AW ITE IT8708F-A ITE IT8708F-A ITE IT8703F-A ITE IT8712F-A
BIOS 4 Mbit Award Modular BIOS v.6.00PG 2 Mbit Award Medallion BIOS v.6.00 4 Mbit Award Medallion BIOS v.6.00 2 Mbit Award Medallion BIOS v.6.00 2 Mbit Award Modular BIOS v.6.00PG
Form-factor, dimensions ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm ATX, 30.5x24 cm ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm mATX, 24.5x24.5 cm ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm
Board DFI NB70-SC EPoX 4BDA2+ Soltek 85DR-C ZIDA A845DD
Links DFI NB70-SC EPoX 4BDA2+ Soltek 85DR-C ZIDA A845DD
Chipset  
Processor support  
Memory 2 DDR 2 DDR 2 DDR 2 DDR
Expansion slots AGP/ 5 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 6 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 6 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 6 PCI/ CNR
I/O ports  
USB 2 USB 1.1 + 1 connector for 2 USB 1.1 2 USB 1.1 + 1 connector for 2 USB 1.1 2 USB 1.1 + 1 connector for 2 USB 1.1 2 USB 1.1 + 1 connector for 2 USB 1.1
Integrated IDE controller  
Network controller - - - -
External IDE controller - HighPoint HPT372 - -
Sound AC'97 Audio, codec Avance Logic ALC201A AC'97 Audio, codec Avance Logic ALC201A AC'97 Audio, codec Avance Logic ALC201A AC'97 Audio, codec Crystal 4299-XQ
I/O controller Winbond W83627HF-AW Winbond W83627HF-AW Winbond W83637HF-AW Winbond W83627HF-AW
BIOS 2 Mbit Award Modular BIOS v.6.00PG 2 Mbit Award Modular BIOS v.6.00PG 2 Mbit Award Modular BIOS v.6.00PG 2 Mbit Award Modular BIOS v.6.00PG
Form-factor, dimensions ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm ATX, 30.5x21 cm ATX, 30.5x22 cm

Test results

All boards perform equally in MP3 encoding. In the WinZip the difference is just several seconds. The Chaintech is formally a leader and the ZIDA comes the last.

The MPEG4 encoding and WinAce archiving allow revealing the finest flaws in operation with memory but none of the boards showed any, and the spread in values is only 2%, except the DFI board which falls behind by 10%. But I think that it is the BIOS to blame, and I hope it will soon get the better version. The Chaintech 9BJD comes out a leader in both tests.

In the Content Creation Winstone the Chaintech and Soltek boards show quite low results. In the Business Winstone the ASUS P4B266 unexpectedly loses to the others. In the SYSmark the scores are almost equal, except the DFI. And the EPoX becomes the champion here.

The rendering speed in the 3DStudio MAX is almost constant (the difference is just 2%), however the Chaintech is leading, and the DFI and the ZIDA boards falls into the last positions.

The professional OpenGL applications reveal operation with graphics. The Soltek goes ahead in the AWadvs-04: the AGP is realized better by 1.5%. The DX-06 gives the crown to the ASUS P4B266, and in the more complex MedMCad-01 we have the Soltek as a leader.

In the games which show the total score of the 3DMark the boards go on a par except the Soltek which beats the rest by 1.5% and the DFI which falls behind. The EPoX performs very well in simple games and in low resolutions.

Conclusion

Soon we are going to test more boards on the i845DDR chipset as they are keep on arriving, and it's necessary to make more than one review to examine all.

I can recommend you all boards. Just be careful with the DFI NB70-SC as its BIOS needs updating. We will test it again if the company will flash the new version.

All the boards show close results, but there are some which perform a little bit better: ASUS P4B266, Chaintech 9BJD, EPoX 4BDA2+ and Soltek 85DR-C.

I also recommend you read the descriptions of the boards because BIOS settings and integrated solutions are more important than the performance difference.

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