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DFI 865PE Infinity
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Date: Nov 06, 2003
Section:Motherboards
Author: HH Editor
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The DFI 865PE Infinity - Page 1

 

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

By: Jeff Bouton
November 6th, 2003

Historically, DFI has focused more on developing basic motherboards strong on functionality and stability, leaving the flashy presentations and excessive bundles to motherboard manufacturers that cater to the enthusiast set.  But recently the company has undergone a bit of a metamorphosis, moving from bland to grand, with the release of their LAN Party line of motherboards, as well as their brown bag equivalents.  Clearly, DFI felt it was time to get into the mainstream arena and challenge some of the old dogs on the block.

Along with the attention received with the LAN Party line, this exposure has helped to bring their other, less flashy products to the forefront.  There are users who simply do not want or need all of the extras that come with the LAN Party line.  So to cover all of the bases, customers have the choice of buying just the motherboard to save cost.  Today, we are going to take a look at the standard Infinity 865PE package that foregoes the excessive bundling and focuses more on performance and innovative features.
 

Features of the DFI Infinity 865PE
Features and Functionality


 

CPU
Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor with Hyper-Threading Technology
- 800MHz/533MHz system data bus
Intel® Pentium® 4 Northwood processor
- 533MHz/400MHz system data bus
Intel® Celeron® Northwood processor
- 400MHz system data bus


CPU Socket
Socket 478

Chipset
Intel® 865PE chipset
- Intel® 865PE Memory Controller Hub (MCH)
- Intel® 82801EB I/O Controller Hub (ICH5)


Memory
Four 184-pin DDR DIMM sockets
Supports dual channel (128-bit wide) memory interface
Supports up to 4GB system memory
Synchronous operation with processor system bus
- PC2100/PC2700/PC3200 (DDR266/DDR333/DDR400) with 800MHz FSB CPU. DDR333 will
run at 320MHz memory frequency when used with 800MHz FSB CPU.
- PC2100/PC2700 (DDR266/DDR333) with 533MHz FSB CPU
- PC2100 (DDR266) with 400MHz FSB CPU
Supports non-ECC (x64) DIMM using 128Mb, 256Mb or 512Mb
Supports unbuffered DIMMs


BIOS
Award BIOS, Windows® 98SE/2000/ME/XP Plug and Play compatible
Genie BIOS provides:
- CPU/DRAM overclocking
- AGP/PCI/SATA overclocking
- CPU/DIMM/AGP overvoltage
Flash EPROM for easy BIOS upgrades
4Mbit flash memory
CMOS Reloaded
Super Patch


Power Management
Supports ACPI STR (Suspend to RAM)function
Wake-On-Events include:
- Wake-On-Keyboard/Mouse
- Wake-On-USB Keyboard
- Wake-On-Ring (external modem)
- Wake-On-LAN
- RTC timer to power-on the system


Hardware Monitor
Monitors CPU/system temperature and overheat alarm
Monitors CPU/1.5V/5VSB/VBAT/3.3V/5V/±12V voltages and failure alarm
Monitors CPU/chassis/2nd fan speed and failure alarm
Automatic chassis/2nd fans on/off control
Read back capability that displays temperature, voltage and fan speed
Opened chassis alarm

Audio
C-Media CMI9739a 6-channel codec
20-bit stereo full-duplex codec with independent variable sampling rate
High quality differential CD input
True stereo line level outputs
S/PDIF-in/out interface
LAN
Realtek RTL8110S Gigabit LAN PCI controller
Full duplex support at both 10, 100 and 1000 Mbps


PCI IDE
Supports ATA/33, ATA/66 and ATA/100 hard drives
PIO Mode 4 Enhanced IDE (data transfer rate up to 14MB/sec.)

SATA IDE with RAID
Silicon Image Sil3112A PCI to Serial ATA controller
Supports two SATA (Serial ATA) interfaces which are compliant with
SATA 1.0 specification (1.5Gbps interface)
Supports RAID 0 and RAID 1


IEEE 1394
VIA VT6306 PCI 1394 integrated host controller
Supports three 100/200/400 Mb/sec ports


AGP
Supports 1.5V AGP 8x (2.13GB/sec.) and AGP 4x(1066MB/sec.) for 3D graphics
applications (AGP 2x and 3.3V AGP card are not supported)
Supports AGP 3.0 and AGP 2.0 spec.

Rear Panel I/O Ports
1 PS/2 mouse port
1 PS/2 keyboard port
1 DB-9 serial port
1 DB-25 parallel port
4 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 1394 port
1 RJ45 LAN port
2 S/PDIF RCA jacks (S/PDIF-in and S/PDIF-out)
3 audio jacks: line-out, line-in and mic-in
2 audio jacks for center/bass and rear out


I/O Connectors
2 connectors for 4 additional external USB 2.0/1.1 ports
2 connectors for 2 external IEEE 1394 ports
1 front audio connector for external line-out and mic-in jacks
1 connector for an external game/MIDI port
2 internal audio connectors (CD-in and AUX-in)
1 S/PDIF connector for optical cable connection
1 connector for IrDA interface
4 Serial ATA connectors
2 IDE connectors
1 floppy connector
2 ATX power connectors (20-pin and 4-pin 12V)
1 Wake-On-LAN connector
1 opened chassis alarm connector
CPU fan, chassis fan and 2nd fan connectors


Expansion Slots
1 AGP slot
5 PCI slots


Compatibility
PCI 2.2 and AC ?97 compliant
Intel AGP version 3.0


PCB
4 layers, ATX form factor
30.5cm (12") x 24.4cm (9.6")


The Bundle:

Like we said earlier, this product is the standard edition, scaling down the contents of the package to the the bare essentials.  The unit came with a User's Manual and RAID Manual covering the installation of the board, configuration and RAID setup.  We did find the User's Manual to be a bit brief, covering the mere basics of this board.  The RAID Manual, on the other hand, was a little more thorough, covering the entire setup process in detail.  The board also came with two SATA cables, one IDE and one Floppy cable, although sadly no SATA power adapters were provided.  The package also included an I/O Shield, Setup CD and RAID Drivers Floppy Disk.

Click to Enlarge

Overall, the bundle is in line with what one would expect to get with a basic motherboard package.  Next we'll take a closer look at the DFI 865PE Infinity motherboard and assess its quality.

 

 

The Board and The BIOS

 

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The DFI 865PE Infinity - Page 2

 

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.
 


Time For Futuremark's Finest

 

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The DFI 865PE Infinity - Page 3

 

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

By: Jeff Bouton
November 6th, 2003

Quake 3 & Comanche 4
Gaming Tests

We also tested the two motherboards with a couple of games.  In this case we ran two popular tests, Quake 3 and Comanche 4.  With Quake 3 we set the application to the "Fastest Setting" which effectively takes the video card out of the picture, focusing on raw CPU performance.  With Comanche 4, a benchmark that is very CPU dependant, we left the settings at their defaults while selecting the "No Audio" option.

With both gaming tests, the Intel 865PE maintained the faster score, albeit by a small margin.  Either way you look at it, both systems returned very good, competitive results.

 

Content Creation 2002 and Business Winstone 2002
Real World Application Testing

With our last round of tests we ran both Business Winstone 2002 and Content Creation Winstone 2002.  Each application gauges a system's overall performance with workstation and multimedia applications.  Content Creation 2002 tests multimedia intensive applications,  while Business Winstone 2002 compares performance with common workstation applications.  Below is a list of the programs each test uses to calculate its final score.
 

Content Creation 2002

  • Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1

  • Adobe Premiere 6.0

  • Macromedia Director 8.5

  • Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev 4

  • Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 7.01.00.3055

  • Netscape Navigator 6/6.01

  • Sonic Foundry Sound Forge 5.0c (build 184)

Business Winstone 2002

  • Lotus Notes® R5

  • Microsoft® FrontPage® 2002 SP-1

  • Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2002 SP-1

  • Microsoft® Excel 2002 SP-1

  • Microsoft® Access 2002 SP-1

  • Microsoft® Word 2002 SP-1

  • Microsoft® Project 2000

  • WinZip® 8.0

  • Norton AntiVirusTM from Symantec

  • Netscape® 6.2.1

When it came to multimedia intensive application testing using Content Creation 2002, the DFI 865PE Infinity and the SiS655FX reference motherboard were in a dead heat, posting identical scores.  With common workstation application performance testing using Business Winstone 2002, the SiS655FX took a slight lead, probably a result of the faster hard drive performance.

As we bring this review to a close and try to collect our thoughts, it is difficult to say anything bad about the DFI 865PE Infinity motherboard itself.  Yes, we thought the manual was a bit scant on information, but the board itself was impressive.  The feature set is excellent, with decent 6 channel audio, USB 2.0, FireWire and SATA RAID.  Top that off with a complete BIOS that offers all the necessary settings for fine tuning performance, CMOS Reloaded and the added performance possible from Superpatch and you have a good package. And let us not overlook the awesome overclocking performance of this motherboard, allowing us to hit 3.21GHz with our Pentium 4 2.4GHz processor with minimal BIOS adjustments and stock cooling.  If you are looking for a system long on features, performance, stability and overclocking potential, we can't see how you would be disappointed with the DFI 865PE Infinity, this board is the real deal.
 

We give the DFI 865PE Infinity a Hothardware Heat Meter Rating of a 9.5


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