Dueling i845 DDR Boards From Abit and Asus
Abit's BD7-RAID and Asus' P4B266 Take Flight

By, Dave Altavilla
January 23, 2002

We're back again with a look at two new motherboards based on Intel's recently released i845D chipset with DDR SDRAM support.  Our initial look at the i845D was centered around some fairly standard issue offerings from Intel and DFI.  MSI was the only "tweaker's" board that we put to the test in that round-up and it certainly shined heads and tails above the rest.  This time around, we have entries from two strong veterans in the "enthusiast/tweaker's" motherboard market, Abit and Asus.

We all know Abit's approach with their Softmenu BIOS technology and on board EIDE RAID controllers, is often innovative and most likely equipped with lots of bells and whistles.  BIOS driven voltage tweaks are a expected from Abit, as well as SDRAM timings, diagnostic LEDs and health monitoring.  Asus on the other hand, as of late, has been steering clear of RAID controllers but putting real polish on their BIOS and pack in bundle.  Finally, one thing is for certain, with both Abit and Asus products, you can be sure that the level of quality and performance will be best of class.  Let's dig in and see how these two boards stack up.  

Abit BD7-RAID and Asus P4B266 Motherboard Specifications
The i845D Abit and Asus style




Supports Intel Pentium 4 Socket 478 processor
400MHz System Data Bus

Intel 845 (ICH2) chipset , AGP 4X 1.5V device only

Supports two 184 pin DDR DIMMs
up to 2GB MAX

AC'97 integrated digital audio controller

SoftMenuIII Technology

Multi I/O
2 channels of BUS Master IDE Port support Ultra DMA 33/66/100
2 channels of BUS Master IDE Port support Ultra DMA 33/66/100/133

1 AGP4X slot, 6 PCI slots, 1 CNR slot

Ultra DMA 133/RAID
High Point HPT372 IDE Controller
Ultra DMA 133MB/sec data transfer rate
RAID 0/1/0+1

Asus P4B266


Supports Intel Pentium 4 socket 478 processors
400MHz System Data Bus

Intel i845D and ICH2 chipset

3 DIMMS slots for up to 2GB of PC2100/PC1600 DDR SDRAM support

Miscellaneous and I/O
AGP 4X slot
2 Channels - ATA-100/66/33 support
2 USB 1.1 ports
6 PCI slots / 1 CNR slot
4 USB 2.0 ports (optional)

C-Media CMI8738 6-channel audio (optional)
S/PDIF-in/out interface (optional)

Integrated Networking
Intel 10/100 Mbps Ethernet LAN controller (optional)



As you can see, both boards are based on the i845D chipset with full support for PC1600 (266MHz.) DDR SDRAM Memory.  Refreshingly, they also both come equipped with 6 PCI slots.  However, that's pretty much where the similarities end.  Let's look at Abit's board first.

A Closer Look At The Abit BD7-RAID
(click images for full view)



As with most all Abit boards we have seen, the BD7-RAID screams quality.  The board is tight as a drum with good placement of all components, including the ATX power connector, which is near the edge of the board and away from the CPU socket.  No cables winding around CPU heat sinks on this board, thankfully.  Also, on board is the next generation HighPoint 372 ATA133 RAID controller, for 2 more channels of EIDE that support an ATA133 interface and RAID striping for performance or data integrity.  There is also a diagnostic Alpha Numeric LED display for error status, should the board not post or some other error occurs.  In addition, Abit added a nice touch, as they did with their ever fabulous TH7II-RAID board, by installing tiny micro-push button switches, on the corner of the board, for reset and power on activation.  This simple little feature alone was enough to make this weary PC Hardware Tech, smile with delight during setup and testing.  Finally, Abit may not include USB 2.0 functionality on this board but they did attached 3 hard wired USB connectors on the back I/O panel.  In short, the Abit BD7-RAID is nicely equipped.

Let's take a little closer look at the Asus P4B266

Asus P4B266 Closer Look and BIOS Setups