DFI PC64 i820 Motherboard - HotHardware

DFI PC64 i820 Motherboard

0 thumbs up

DFI's PC64 - Motherboard
More i820 and RAMBUS action on the test-bench

Intel's new i820 chipset is slowly being accepted and brought to market by various motherboard manufacturers.  It is obvious that this has been a pains taking process for the Motherboard Vendors in the market, as release dates for many of the major players have slipped due to compatibility and stability issues.  DFI is one of the few motherboard vendors to release a full i820/RAMBUS implementation.  This is our first look ever at a DFI product, here at Hot Hardware.  What did we think?  That's why you are here, we suppose.  Please, read on.
 
DFI PC64 Specifications / Features
Standard i820 layout and features

Click image for full view

 
 
Chipset
  • Intel 820
  • CPU Socket
  • Slot 1

CPU Supported

  • Pentium® III 533-733MHz/133MHz
  • Pentium® III 533EB-733EB/133MHz
  • Pentium® III 450-600MHz/ 100MHz
  • Pentium® III 500E-700E/100MHz
  • Pentium® II 350-450MHz/ 100MHz

Memory

  • 2 RIMM sockets  max. 1 GB (unbuffered)
    Supports PC800 RDRAM and ECC

PCI IDE

  • Dual PIO mode 4 EIDE channels up to 4 IDE devices
  • UltraDMA/66 transfer rate up to 66MB/sec

Super I/O

  • 2 x NS16C550A compatible UARTs
  • 1 x SPP/ECP/EPP parallel port

External Connectors

  • 2 x USB, 2 x DB-9, 1x DB-25, 1 x PS/2 Mouse, 1 x PS/2 Keyboard, 1 x game/MIDI, 3 x Audio jacks

 

Internal Connectors

  • 1 x IrDA, 2 x IDE, 1 x Floppy, 1 x ATX Power, 3 x Fan, 1 x WOL, 1 x WOR, 1 x Opened chassis, 1 x video, 1 x AUX-in, 1 x CD-in, 1 x TAD
    Power Management
  • ACPI and OS direct power management
  • Wake-on event:
    • RTC/Modem/LAN/KB/Mouse

Hardware Monitor

  • System, processor temperature, voltage and fan speed

Expansion Slots

  • 1 AGP (Supports AGP 4x/2x), 5 PCI, 1 AMR

Audio On Board

  • Aureal AU8810 PCI Audio
  • Other features
  • Suspend to RAM
  • BIOS Intel 4Mbit FWH

Form Factors

  • ATX, 4 layers
  • 30.48 cm x 20 cm
  • 12 inch. x 7.87 inch.

 

 

The board itself is well designed and good real estate planning was implemented with respect to component placement.  Note the perfect placement of the ATX Power Connector in the above picture.  Why can't more designs be like this?  The ATX cord is out of the way of the CPU but still nice and close to the Power Supply.  This makes for very easy installation and better "cable management" within the system.  You should be able to tuck that bulky ATX cord away nicely with this set up.

On the down side, we are stuck with the AMR (Audio Modem Riser) slot again, as we have seen in other i820 based boards.  This is a new standard that has evolved for the Value PC space and has no real place,  in our opinion,  in a performance based product, which clearly this board is.  The AMR slot is intended to house inexpensive "Soft Modems" which will never perform to the levels of their discrete counterparts.  Unless you are really pinching pennies and need to go with the cheapest modem solution you can find, this slot is simply eating up space that could have been used for a full PCI slot.  On the other hand, if you are able to FIND a Riser Card that performs well, then the AMR slot is a wash.  Either way, these is nothing better than a 6PCI/1AGP setup, which would have been the preferred configuration.

The on board audio on the PC64 is an Aureal 8810 chipset and provides A3D 1.0 functionality.  Not the most leading edge 3D audio available, since A3D 3.0 is right around the corner, but still a nice convenient addition.

 

PC64 Installation / Setup
Near perfect
The PC64 installed and set up in our system in record time.  The board does an excellent job of sharing PCI IRQs within Win98, which is almost a necessity these days.  Here  is a shot of the BIOS screen showing ways in which you can configure IRQ resources.

Click image

Once again, we wish all motherboards came with this capability.  I am also happy to report that this feature worked flawlessly allowing me to specify what IRQs the various PCI slots were going to occupy.  The settings were set to auto in this picture but rest assured you can select a range of IRQ designations in this set up.

Another interesting feature in the BIOS is listed under the Advanced Chipset Settings, called "RDRAM Device Napdown".

What does this do?  The world may never know....  NAH!  We expect someone to set us straight on what this setting is for.  For now, we noticed no measurable performance difference in the tests we have for you next.  In addition, as with all i820 boards, you will notice that the PC64 has an option for selecting "Fast Writes" across the AGP bus and the board comes with built in AGP4X support.

In general the PC64 is a stable board that is also very compatible.  We set up our machine with a GeForce DDR Graphics card and there was no evidence of the flaky lock-ups we were getting with the last i820/GeForce set up we reviewed.

 
This IS Hot Hardware after all, so enough talking, let's fire it up!

 

 

 Overclocking, Performance and Rating

 

Article Index:

Login or Register to Comment
Post a Comment