Intel D845PEBT2 i845PE Motherboard Review - HotHardware

Intel D845PEBT2 i845PE Motherboard Review

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Intel D845PEBT2 i845PE Motherboard Review
Intel Appeals to the Enthusiast

By: Chris Angelini
December 29, 2002

Intel certainly has an established reputation when it comes to motherboards.  In most regards, its reputation is solid but hardware enthusiasts generally don't recognize Intel for supporting those whom derive utility from pushing a processor or motherboard to the limit.  Intel would rather see a group of power users purchase 3.06GHz Pentium 4 processors instead of overclocking their less-expensive 2.53GHz chips to the same level.  Clock multipliers on both Pentium 4 and Athlon XP processors are locked by both chip manufacturers as a result of this mentality.  Most motherboard manufacturers are more sympathetic to mongering overclockers, though. With so many boards on the market, features like voltage modifications and 1MHz front side bus settings help differentiate the unique boards from the bland.  Further, integrated add-ons like USB 2.0, onboard Ethernet, Firewire and most recently Serial ATA, infuse value which also attracts those that consider themselves enthusiasts.  Unfortunately, an impressive specification sheet doesn't always equate to comparable reliability.  This is where Intel sets itself apart.  Simply, Intel takes pride in offering some of the most stable motherboards on the market. 

But in taking a no-nonsense approach to system stability, performance and feature sets are often sacrificed.  Intel boards work well in mission-critical machines and servers but we wouldn't expect to find one in a tweaked out gaming rig, at least up until now.  It seems as though Intel has deviated from the straight-and-narrow a bit, in order to deliver a motherboard that includes a few more bells and whistles than previous products.  The D845PEBT2 (affectionately referred to as Blue Mountain 2) comes equipped with 6-channel audio, IEEE 1394, Serial ATA and integrated Ethernet.  Its BIOS provides memory timing options and the board is even laid out on an aesthetically pleasing black PCB!  While it may not be usual Intel fare, we certainly love to see Intel making an earnest appeal to the hearts of performance enthusiasts.

Specifications and Features of Intel's D845PEBT2
All of the bells and whistles.

CPU:

  • Supports Intel Pentium 4 Socket 478 processors with 400/533 MHz FSB (with HyperThreading support)

Chipset:

  • Intel i845PE / ICH4

  • Supports Ultra DMA 33/66/100

  • Accelerated Graphics Port connector supports AGP 4X Interface

Memory:

  • Two 184-pin DIMM sockets

  • Supports PC2700/2100/1600 (Max. 2GB)

Serial ATA:

  • Silicon Image Sil3112A controller supports two Serial ATA connectors (RAID 0 or RAID 1)

Audio:

  • Analog Devices AD1980 codec featuring SoundMax Cadenza (six-channel output through analog or coaxial/optical)

USB 2.0:

  • 6 USB 2.0 ports

IEEE 1394:

  • Up to three IEEE 1394a-2000 ports (Agere FW323-05) (optional)

LAN:

  • Intel 82562 MAC/PHY with integrated 10/100Mbps Ethernet

Internal I/O Connectors:

  • 1 AGP 4X slot, 5 PCI slots, 1 CNR slot

  • Floppy Port supports up to 2.88MB

  • 2 x Ultra DMA 33/66/100 Connectors

  • 2 x Serial ATA 1.5G bps Connectors (RAID)

  • 1 x USB headers, 2 x IEEE 1394 header

  • 1 x Smart Card Reader connector

  • CD/AUX/Modem audio input

Back Panel I/O:

  • 1 x PS/2 Keyboard, 1 x PS/2 mouse

  • 4 x USB connectors

  • 1 x IEEE 1394 connectors

  • 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector, 1 x coaxial connector

  • Audio I/O

  • 1 x RJ-45 LAN Connector

  • 1 x parallel port, 1 x serial port

Miscellaneous:

  • ATX form factor (12" x 8.5")

  • Hardware monitoring - Including Fan speeds, Voltages, CPU and System environment temperature

  • Intel Precision Cooling Technology

  • Three fan headers


  

As you can see from the listed specification sheet, Intel has put some effort into the D845PEBT2.  To begin with, the Silicon Image Sil3112A controller enables two Serial ATA channels.  This, of course, is in addition to the parallel ATA channels provided by the ICH4.  Native S-ATA drives are still hard to come by, but once availability improves, a pair can be used in conjunction to form a RAID 0 (for performance) or RAID 1 array (for data security). 

Analog Devices has made continual improvements to its audio codec family, culminating in the AD1980 that Intel utilizes on the D845PEBT2.  Most gamers opt for an add-on sound card that offers surround sound output and digital connectivity, but the AD1980 helps eliminate the need for an expensive card by supporting 6-channel analog output through three 1/8" mini-jacks available on the board's back panel.  Also present are coaxial and optical digital outputs that can be connected to an external receiver.  Audio quality differences are hardly discernable and with a 3.06GHz Pentium 4, there is little performance penalty due to the use of the onboard codec.

Intel has championed the use of USB, so it is no surprise that USB 2.0 support is included in the ICH4.  Four ports are offered on the board's back panel and an additional two are available through a header.  Surprisingly, Intel has also included the Agere FW323 Firewire Link/PHY that interfaces with a single Firewire port on the back of the board and two more optional ports available through a header.  LAN capabilities have also been integrated using Intel's own 82562 MAC/PHY, rounding out the D845PEBT2 back panel with an RJ-45 connector that delivers 10/100Mbps speeds.

The BIOS, Layout and Quality 

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