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Intel 845E Based Motherboards Roundup

December 26, 2002



Today, when even i845PE and i845GE are not top chipsets in the Intel's line supporting DDR, the i845E boards won't attract attention of demanding users at all. But the price cuts which accompany the age and the cheaper type of memory - DDR266 - can definitely attract those who prefer saving money. Such economy is not thoughtless at all: the latest Intel processors with the 533 MHz bus (as well as the HT technology which is typical of, at least, half of the boards), integrated capabilities of the ICH4 south bridge including USB 2.0 are supported. The downsides are the inferior performance at the expense of the DDR266 (instead of DDR333) and AGP 4x in stead of 8x (in E7205). And while the former is a real disadvantage which, however, is made for by the lower price, the latter is just a marketing trick. 

As for the current market situation, I have nothing to add to what was written in the first and second parts of the tests of the Intel 845E based boards. 

Test conditions

Testbed: 

  • Processor: Intel Pentium 4 2.53 GHz (19x133 MHz), Socket 478 
  • Mainboards: 
  • Memory: 512 MB PC2700(DDR333) DDR SDRAM DIMM Samsung, CL 2 (used as DDR266 with CL 1.5) 
  • Video card: Palit Daytona GeForce4 Ti 4600 
  • Hard drive: IBM IC35L040AVER07-0, 7200 rpm

Software: 

    OS and drivers: 
    • Windows XP Professional 
    • DirectX 8.1 
    • Intel chipset software installation utility 4.00.1013 
    • Intel Application Accelerator 2.2 
    • NVIDIA Detonator XP 29.42 (VSync=Off) 

    Test applications: 

    • VirtualDub 1.4.10 + DivX codec 5.02 Pro 
    • WinAce 2.11 
    • BAPCo & MadOnion SYSmark 2002 
    • SPECviewperf 7.0 
    • MadOnion 3DMark 2001 SE build 330 
    • Gray Matter Studios & Nerve Software Return To Castle Wolfenstein v1.1 
    • Croteam/GodGames Serious Sam: The Second Encounter v1.07 

The EPoX 4BEAV was already tested before, that is why we give only its performance results (as one of the fastest models on this chipset). The characteristics of the other competitors the shown in the table below:


Board ABIT IT7-MAX2 Albatron PX845E Biostar P4TDK DFI NB73-EA Shuttle AB45 Tyan Trinity 845e
Links ABIT IT7-MAX2 Albatron PX845E Biostar P4TDK DFI NB73-EA Shuttle AB45 Tyan Trinity 845e
Chipset Intel i845E (RG82845E + FW82801DB(ICH4))
Processor support Socket 478, Intel Pentium 4 (400/533 MHz), Intel Celeron
Memory slots 3 DDR 3 DDR 4 DDR 2 DDR 2 DDR 4 DDR
Expansion slots AGP/ 4 PCI AGP/ 6 PCI AGP/ 6 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 5 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 5 PCI AGP Pro/ 5 PCI
I/O ports 1 FDD, 2 PS/2, 3 IEEE 1394 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2
USB 6 USB 2.0 + 2 connectors for 2 USB 2.0 2 USB 2.0 + 2 connectors for 2 USB 2.0 2 USB 2.0 + 2 connectors for 2 USB 2.0 4 USB 2.0 + 1 connector for 2 USB 2.0 2 USB 2.0 + 2 connectors for 2 USB 2.0 4 USB 2.0 + 1 connector for 2 USB 2.0
Integrated IDE controller ATA100
External IDE controller HighPoint HPT374 + Marvell 88i8030-NNC - - - - -
Sound AC'97 codec, Avance Logic ALC650 AC'97 codec, Avance Logic ALC650 AC'97 codec, C-Media CMI9738 AC'97 codec, Avance Logic ALC650 AC'97 codec, Avance Logic ALC650 AC'97 codec, Avance Logic ALC650
Integrated network controller Realtek RTL8100B - - Realtek RTL8100BL - -
Card Reader support - SMC, MS - SMC, SD/MS - -
I/O controller Winbond W83627HF-AW Winbond W83637HF-AW Winbond W83627HF-AW Winbond W83637HF-AW ITE IT8712F-A Winbond W83627HF-AW
BIOS 4 Mbit Phoenix AwardBIOS v6.00PG 3 Mbit Phoenix AwardBIOS v6.00PG 2 Mbit Phoenix AwardBIOS v6.00PG 2 Mbit Phoenix AwardBIOS v6.00PG 2 Mbit Phoenix AwardBIOS v6.00PG 4 Mbit Phoenix AwardBIOS v6.00PG
Form-factor, dimensions ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm ATX, 30.5x19 cm ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm
Set of accessories excellent 10.5 ordinary 1 ordinary 1.5 ordinary 4.5 ordinary 0.5 ordinary 1
Adjustment and overclocking settings rich 5.5 average 4 average 1 average 3 average 2 minimal -2

Test results

Although the most boards are just moderate budget solutions, they are all produced by famous companies, and we don't expect any failures. (Quite often, missing controllers make the performance even higher as the board doesn't need to spend resources on them). We have carried out a complete set of tests for each board which indicate that they are rather stable, though only to a first approximation. However, their performance levels are so close (the difference was, as a rule, less than 2%), that we publish only a small part of the diagrams to illustrate our words. 

Compare the results of the new-comers with one of the fastest models on this chipset - EPoX 4BEAV. As you can see, the new solutions are only a little bit behind. 

Only in MPEG4 encoding the scores differ noticeably. The fastest runners are ABIT IT7-MAX2, Albatron PX845E and Shuttle AB45, like in the previous tests, while the DFI NB73-EA and Tyan Trinity 845e show the scores lower by 4% and 5% in MPEG4 encoding, though the DFI's model was one of the leaders last time. 

Conclusion

The most of the tested boards are inexpensive solutions with a minimal suite of functions meant for budget computers, with the main advantage being the price. The ABIT IT7-MAX2 is an exception, and we wouldn't recommend it today as those who like the latest advanced stuff can get much more interesting and efficient solutions. According to the tests, the boards are approximately equal (besides, they almost keep up with the fastest solutions on this chipset), and it's a useless thing to try to single out a more efficient mainboard. 

So, when choosing a board, first of all take a close look at their characteristics in the table above, then read the brief descriptions of the models you liked and select the one according primarily to its price. 
 
 
 


Dmitry Mayorov (destrax@ixbt.com
Sergei Pikalov (peek@ixbt.com)

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