DFI Infinity 865PE Motherboard Review
DFI's Latest Intel Offering

By: Jeff Bouton
November 6th, 2003

The DFI Infinity 865PE Motherboard
Not What You Would Expect

The Board:

Upon initial inspection we found the system board to have a nice layout with a good selection of features.  It looks as though a lot of attention was spent on making sure the layout of this board was efficient.  We did not find any of the commonly reported issues we often find when reviewing a motherboard.  For example, the AGP slot was spaced properly so the locking hinges of the DIMM slots could move freely, allowing easy access for changing or adding memory without having to remove the video card.  We were equally pleased to see that the ATX power connector is placed in an ideal position so that the power supply wiring doesn't go anywhere near the CPU cooler.  Capacitor placement was also very good.  Some products have the capacitors scattered around the board in select places, often times in precarious positions forcing the user to be extremely cautious when installing the board.  In the case to the DFI 865PE Infinity, the majority of the capacitors are lined up neatly along one edge of the CPU socket, while the remainder are strategically placed around the board without causing issues with the surrounding components.

The board comes equipped with a total of 5 PCI slots for expansion.  The Northbridge is cooled by a passive heat sink to keep temperatures under control.  The unit comes with a total of 4 DIMM Slots, supporting up to 4GB of DDR Memory.  Tucked behind the DIMM slots are the two IDE and one Floppy connections, ensuring the cabling is out of the way of proper airflow.  A total of three fan headers are provided, one of which powers the CPU cooler while the other two can power another two fans.  The board also comes with 2 USB 2.0 and 2 FireWire headers for expanding the board's capabilities beyond the ports provided at the rear.  The unit's onboard audio is powered by C-Media's CMI9739a 6-channel codec while the board's SATA RAID is powered by the Silicon Image Sil3112A Serial ATA controller.  The SATA RAID can be configured in a RAID 0 or 1 configuration depending on whether you want added performance or security.

Along with the typical legacy connections such as PS/2, Serial and LPT1, the board has a collection of other ports.  Where the second Serial port would typically be located, we found two RCA SPDIF connections.  To the right of those was a FireWire port sitting on top of two USB 2.0 ports.  As we continue moving to the right we see one RJ-45 for Gigabit Ethernet with two more USB 2.0 ports below it.  Lastly, was the remaining onboard audio connections including Line-In, Line-Out, Mic and ports for Subwoofer and Center channel speakers.

Overall we really like the appearance of this board.  DFI obviously spent some time trying to get all the details right with this model.  We have no major issues with the placement on system components and found the rear collection of ports to be quite adequate.  DFI also took the time to make sure the system was equipped with the proper BIOS as well.  Let's take a look.

The Bios:

On the surface the BIOS appears to be the typical Phoenix AwardBIOS commonly found on most motherboards today, but this one did yield a couple of nice features that are not so common.  The Advanced Chipset Features screen offers a good selection of memory timings settings for customizing memory performance to your liking.  The system comes with several Performance Mode profiles including Fast, Turbo, and User Defined which lets you set each item yourself.  The Memory Frequency For option lets you set the frequency of the DDR memory if needed.  The setting ranges from DDR266, DDR320, DDR400 and Auto, giving an ample array of options most useful when overclocking the system.

The Genie BIOS Setting screen is where users can adjust the Bus speed anywhere from 200MHz to 400MHz in 1MHz increments, although 400MHz seems rather unrealistic at this point.  The system comes with a Superpatch, which is DFI's naming for PAT (Performance Acceleration Technology), which can be enabled on boards running 800MHz Bus CPUs and DDR400 memory.  Unfortunately, the very brief user's manual does not discuss this option, leaving the inexperienced user to wonder just what this option does.  Nonetheless, if you have the right hardware, this can really improve performance. 

To help aid in fine tuning an overclock attempt, the system also offers various voltage adjustments.  The CPU voltage defaults to 1.525v and can be raised up to 1.975v, while the DIMM Voltage Control offers up adjustments from 2.6v to 2.9v in .1v increments.  There is also room for AGP Voltage adjustments from 1.5v, to 1.8v, also in .1v increments.

When it comes to the BIOS, we saved the best for last with the CMOS Reloaded feature.  This handy setting allows you to configure your system BIOS for different performance profiles.  In theory you can set up your board for everyday use with typical options while another profile can be set up with a stable overclocking profile for gaming.  Like we said, this is a handy feature and switching between profiles takes only a minute at most.


Overclocking with The DFI Infinity 865PE
Holy Cow!

By now most of us have heard about the Pentium 4 2.4GHz processor's overclocking potential.  There have been numerous reports of this processor hitting speeds in excess of 3GHz, so naturally we were eager to put this board to the test to see how well we could do.  To start off we didn't waste too much time reaching for the sky, raising the bus to 250MHz.  Sure enough, the test system didn't complain at all.  So we continued to raise the FSB a generous 10MHz to 260MHz and the system still booted into Windows without error.  Once again, we entered the BIOS and added another 10MHz, bringing the FSB to a hefty 270MHz.  This time the system posted, but as soon as Windows loaded the system gave us a BSOD.  After further trial and error, we managed to stabilize the board at 267MHz. by bumping the core voltage to 1.8v and the RAM to 2.7v.  This gave us a system bus speed of 1072MHz and a CPU speed of 3.21GHz.  Once we booted into Windows we had no trouble completing several runs of Quake 3 and Comanche 4 as a quick stability test.  We hit a healthy 468FPS with Quake 3 and 68.95 with Comanche 4, which are sizable gain compared to the results we got at stock speeds reported on page 4.  Naturally, we were at the top end of the spectrum here, but the point is that it could be done, with stock cooling no less.

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