Spacious like a
King sized bed!
8.5?x12,? the 845G Max-L isn?t a huge board. That hasn?t
stopped MSI from doing a great job laying the board out,
though. Both the ATX and 12V Auxiliary power connectors are
located at the top of the board, so as to not interfere with
air circulation around the processor. Several 2200
micro-farad electrolytic capacitors are packed close to the
heat sink retention mechanism, but we had no problem
our reference cooling solution. While many manufacturers
favor a three-phase power regulation circuit, MSI has opted
for a less-expensive dual-phase solution. The MOSFET transistors are
consequently covered with heat sinks to dissipate the extra heat.
the i845G chipset supports PC1600 and PC2100 DDR memory.
The board has three, 184-pin DIMM slots for a maximum
capacity of 2GB. VIA?s P4X333 and SiS? 645DX chipsets are
already compliant with the PC2700 standard, so the i845G is
at a slight disadvantage in terms of memory bandwidth. Of
course, Intel is fully expected to bolster the memory bus
frequency in subsequent chipsets. MSI has added an interim
setting that enables PC2700 memory speeds on the 845G Max-L;
another example of MSI?s innovation at work.
of MSI?s high-end motherboards, the 845G doesn?t include an
external ATA-133 RAID controller. USB 2.0 functionality
comes courtesy of Intel?s new I/O Controller Hub (ICH4) and
the included two-port bracket brings the count up to four
USB 2.0 connectors. Disk transfers are unfortunately still
limited to ATA-100 with the ICH4. Six PCI slots are
provided, as is a single AGP and CNR slot. One of the PCI
slots is occupied by the Bluetooth header should you decide to take advantage of the
845G?s Bluetooth capability ? a fair trade in my book.
panel houses standard keyboard and mouse connections as well
as a single LPT and COM port. A 15-pin VGA output
completely replaces the second COM port. Intel?s 82562ET
controller adds 10/100Mbps Ethernet capabilities, though
Wake on LAN is not offered. MSI lists three fan headers in
the motherboard documentation but the board I tested only
came equipped with two. The lack of a second COM port, a
third fan header, three-phase power regulation and
six-channel audio indicate an eagerness to save money. More
than likely, these extras won?t be missed, but we fell
manufacturers should not be skimping on features that are
now considered standard.
The BIOS of the
As one of
the largest motherboard manufacturers in the world, MSI has
to concern themselves not only with hardware enthusiasts but
also average consumers looking to upgrade an old PC. While
companies like ABIT and Soyo include highly configurable
BIOS settings, MSI tends to lean towards conservatism.
BIOS offers very standard features with the addition of
configurable DRAM timing settings. Voltages, fan speeds and
temperatures are all displayed in the PC Health property
page using the Winbond 83627 chip integrated onto the
motherboard. Additionally, MSI has enabled front side bus
frequencies between 100 and 200MHz (remember, quad-pumped)
and voltage manipulation over the processor (1.5-1.8V), AGP
(1.5-1.8V) and DDR (2.5-2.8V) busses. Since the board also
includes integrated video, there are several options for
setting the primary adapter (Integrated, AGP and PCI).
Performance on Steroids
Pentium 4 first launched, I was able to take the i850
chipset to 133MHz without any stability issues. Now
that the chipset runs at 133MHz straight from Intel, I've
seen it hit as high as 160MHz. Considering that the
i845 family is based on similar logic, I would expect
similar results. Of course the i845G also contains
integrated graphics, which could affect the overclockability
of the chipset.
Fuzzy Logic 4 overclocking software, the 845G Max had no
problem reaching a 158MHz front side bus.
Unfortunately, every successive attempt at setting the front
side bus using Fuzzy Logic crashed the system. No
sweat - I am more inclined to trust BIOS settings anyway.
Increasing the front side bus in 1MHz increments, I was able
to hit 155MHz without any stability issues in Windows.
As a result, memory bandwidth rose from 1.94GB per second to
2.18GB per second. Quake III scores increased from
211.3 to 234.4 frames per second.
may not directly relate to overclocking, it should be noted
that we were unable to test MSI's 333MHz memory setting.
Our 512MB Corsair XMS2700 module didn't want to cooperate,
no matter how conservative we set the memory settings.
This could indicate an incompatibility with the board or the
memory, but either way it should be kept in mind that MSI's
PC2700 is unofficial ,so don't expect it to work with
every brand of PC2700 module.
Sandra 2002, SysMark 2002 and Comanche 4