P4 i845 SDRAM Motherboards from Asus and MSI - HotHardware

P4 i845 SDRAM Motherboards from Asus and MSI

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P4 i845 SDRAM Motherboards from Asus and MSI
The Asus P4B and MSI 845Pro2-R do battle

By, Dave Altavilla
September 24th, 2001

 

The Pentium 4 definitely has had it fair share of struggle and strife.  In part, one of the reasons why Intel took some "heat" about the P4, was their choice of system memory interface.  True, RAMBUS does provide serious bandwidth advantages over legacy PC133 subsystems but cost factors and business practices of Intel's memory partner, have proven to be a serious thorn in their side.  Not too long after the release of Pentium 4, arch rival AMD signed up in the DDR SDRAM camp and provided a lower cost alternative with bandwidth in the same ballpark as Intel's RAMBUS solution.  It became evident that regardless of performance, Intel also needed a solution for the value segment and RAMBUS couldn't be part of that picture. 


Naturally, one would think that a DDR SDRAM P4 solution would be a logical move for Intel.  However, with so much invested in the RAMBUS architecture, Intel wasn't going to steal their own thunder by ushering in new memory support so soon, that would compete head on with RDRAM.  No, instead they decided to take an interim step backwards somewhat, to PC133 SDRAM again and then follow on later in Q1 '02, with a DDR SDRAM i845 solution for the P4.

 

The following two motherboards are some of the first to hit the market based on the i845 chipset with SDRAM support.  MSI and Asus sent in evaluation units to the HotHardware Labs and we're here to tell you about the features and performance within these two Intel value platforms.

    

 

Dualing i845s - The MSI 845Pro2-R and Asus P4B
Pentium4 Motherboards loaded with creature comforts - Specifications

The i845 Chipset - Block Diagram - Socket 478 System Architecture

The heart of the two motherboards we have on the test bench today, is the i845 chipset from Intel.  As you can see, it supports all of the standard interfaces, including integrated 10/100 LAN (optionally configured by the motherboard manufacturer but support is there) and 6 channel audio.  One obvious drawback is noted here however, the bandwidth available across the memory bus is limited to 1.06GB per second.  This is far below that of the i850's Dual Channel RDRAM interface, at 3.2GB/second.

MSI 845Pro2-R

CPU
-- Supports Intel® Pentium® 4 processor in the 478 pin package.
-- Supports 1.3 ~ 2GHz and up.

Chipset

Intel® 845 (593 FC-BGA) Chipset
- AGP 4x slot
- Support PC133 SDRAM

Intel® ICH2 Chipset

- AC'97 Controller Integrated
- 2 full IDE channels, up to ATA100
- Low pin count interface for SIO

FSB

- Support 100MHz FSB
- Support 400MHz Intel NetBurst micro-architecture bus.

Main Memory

-- Supports three PC133 SDRAM slots.
-- Supports up to 3GB memory size.

Slots

-- One AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) 4x slot (1.5V only)
-- One CNR (Communication Network Riser) slot

On-Board IDE

-- An IDE controller on the ICH2 chipset provides IDE HDD/CD-ROM with PIO, Bus Master and Ultra DMA66/100 operation modes.
-- Can connect up to four IDE devices.
-- IDE RAID 0, 1 supported by Promise PDC20265R (for 845 Pro2-R only).

Audio

C-Media CMI8738 / PCI-6ch supports 2/4/6 channel sound
On-Board Peripherals
On-Board Peripherals include:
- 1 floppy port supports 2 FDDs with 360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88Mbytes.
- 2 serial ports (COM A + COM B)
- 1 parallel port supports SPP/EPP/ECP mode
- 4 USB ports (Rear * 2/ Front * 2)
- 1 audio/game port

Asus P4B

CPU
-- Supports Intel® Pentium® 4 processor in the 478 pin package.
-- Supports 1.3 ~ 2GHz and up.

Chipset

Intel® 845 (593 FC-BGA) Chipset
- AGP 4x slot
- Support PC133 SDRAM

Intel® ICH2 Chipset

- AC'97 Controller Integrated
- 2 full IDE channels, up to ATA100
- Low pin count interface for SIO

FSB

- Support 100MHz FSB
- Support 400MHz Intel NetBurst micro-architecture bus.

Main Memory

-- Supports three PC133 SDRAM slots.
-- Supports up to 3GB memory size.

Slots

-- One AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) 4x slot (1.5V only)
-- One CNR (Communication Network Riser) slot

On-Board IDE

-- An IDE controller on the ICH2 chipset provides IDE HDD/CD-ROM with PIO, Bus Master and Ultra DMA66/100 operation modes.
-- Can connect up to four IDE devices.

Audio

Optional audio for S/PDIF-out (SONY/Philips Digital Interface)
On-Board Peripherals include:
- 1 floppy port supports 2 FDDs with 360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88Mbytes.
- 2 serial ports (COM A + COM B)
- 1 parallel port supports SPP/EPP/ECP mode
- 4 USB ports (Rear * 2/ Front * 2)
- 1 audio/game port
 
 

 
MSI's 845Pro2-R :

These two boards are setup almost identically, with the exception of the MSI's on board Promise ATA100 RAID controller.  We've always liked RAID equipped boards for the simple fact that you can attached up to 4 drives, each on their own channel.  This is great for those who have both DVD and CD-RW drives in their systems and need to have a dedicated channel for the burner.  Of course, the added drive performance that a RAID 0 configuration brings, is nothing to sneeze at either. 

Additionally, the MSI board uses the C-Media CMI8738 chip for its on board sound.

The 845Pro2-R also comes bundled with a number of trinkets including additional USB cabling and an active heat-sink/fan assembly that you can attach in place of the passive chipset cooling, that is installed on the board when it ships.


 

Let's have a closer look at the Asus P4B.

 



The Asus P4B Up Close and Personal,
BIOS Comparison and Overclocking

 

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