DFI Infinity 865PE Motherboard
Not What You Would Expect
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
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
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.
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
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.