Abit BD7IIRAID & MSI 845E Max2 BLR

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The Abit BD7IIRAID & MSI 845E Max2 BLR - Page 1

Abit's BD7II-RAID Vs. MSI's 845E Max2 BLR
Two Fully Featured i845Es Do Battle...

By, Marco Chiappetta
August 6, 2002

    

With the release of their "new" Pentium 4s, Intel revised their mainstream i845 chipset to add official support for 533MHz front side bus frequencies.  This new revision of the i845, was dubbed the i845E, which is the chipset powering the two motherboards we'll be looking at today.  Abit's BD7II-RAID and MSI's 845E Max2 BLR are two full featured, Socket 478 mainboards, targeted squarely at the enthusiast looking for a quality product, that doesn't carry a premium price tag.  Both of these products have on-board RAID and Ethernet controllers, as well as integrated audio and a host of overclocking capabilities.  We slapped in our trusty 2.4GHz P4, 256MB of quality DDR RAM, connected a couple of fast IBM hard drives to their respective RAID controllers and set out to find which board would come out on top...

Specifications / Features of the Abit BD7II-RAID & MSI 845E Max2 BLR
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Abit BD7II-RAID

CPU

  • Supports Intel Pentium 4 Socket478 processor

  • 400/533MHz System Data Bus

Chipset

  • Intel 845E (ICH4) chipset

  • Supports AGP 4X 1.5V device only

  • Supports Hi-Speed Universal Serial Bus (USB v2.0)

  • Supports Dual Ultra ATA 100/66/33 channels supporting 4 devices

Ultra DMA 133/RAID

  • High Point HPT372 IDE Controller

  • Ultra DMA 133MB/sec data transfer rate

  • RAID0 (Stripping mode for boosting performance)

  • RAID1 (Mirroring mode for data security)

  • RAID 0+1 (Stripping and Mirroring)

Memory

  • Supports Three 184 pin DDR DIMM module

  • Supports up to 2GB MAX

  • Supports PC1600 and PC2100

Audio

  • AC'97 Digital Audio controller integrated

  • 2 channel audio driver included

  • AC'97 Audio CODEC on board

System BIOS

  • SOFT MENU III Technology

  • Award Plug and Play BIOS supports APM and ACPI

  • Write-Protect Anti-Virus function by AWARD BIOS

Multi I/O Functions

  • 2 Channels Bus Master IDE Ports support Ultra DMA 33/66/100

  • 2 Channels Bus Master IDE Ports support Ultra DMA 33/66/100/133 for RAID 0/1/0+1

  • PS/2 Keyboard and PS/2 Mouse Connectors

  • 1 Floppy Port (up to 2.88MB)

  • 1 Parallel Port (EPP/ECP)

  • 2 Serials Ports

  • 2 USB 2.0 Connectors

  • Audio connector (Line-in, Line-out, MIC-in, and Game Port )

LAN

  • On board RTL8100B single chip Ethernet controller with power management

  • 10/100Mb Operation

  • Supports ACPI & Wake on LAN

  • Supports Full Duplex Flow Control (IEEE 802.3x) and compliant to PCI Revision 2.2

    Miscellaneous

  • ATX form factor

  • 1 AGP4X slot,5 PCI slots

Hardware Monitoring

  • Including Fan speed, Voltages, CPU and System temperature and one thermal header for other devices temperature monitoring

  • Keyboard and Mouse Power On

MSI 845E Max2 BLR

CPU

  • Support Socket 478 for Intel® Pentium 4 processor

  • Support 1.3GHz to 2.4GHz or higher speed P4 processor

Chipset

  • Intel® 845E chipset (539 FC-BGA)

  • AGP 4x slot (1.5v only)

  • Support 100/133MHz FSB

  • Support 400/533MHz Intel NetBurst micro-architecture bus

  • Intel® ICH4 chipset (360 BGA)

  • AC'97 Controller Integrated

  • 2 full IDE channels, up to ATA 100

  • Low pin count interface for SIO

Main Memory

  • Three 184-pin DDR DIMM sockets

  • Maximum of  2GB of memory

  • Support a 64 to 512MB technologies for x8 and x16 devices

Slots

  • One CNR (Communication Network Riser)

  • One AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) 4x slot (1.5v only)

  • Six PCI 2.2 32-bit Master PCI Bus Slots

  • Support 3.3v/5v PCI bus Interface

On-Board IDE

  • An IDE controller on the ICH4 chipset provides IDE HDD/CD-ROM with PIO, Bus Master and Ultra DMA66/100 operation modes

  • Can connect up to four IDE devices

On-Board Peripherals

  • 1 floppy port supports 2 FDD with 360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88Mbytes

  • 2 serial ports (COM A + COM B)

  • 1 parallel port supports SPP/EPP/ECP mode

  • 6 USB 2.0 ports (Rear x 2 / Front x 4)

  • 1 Line-In/Line-Out/Mic-In/Game port

LAN

  • Integrated Fast Ethernet MAC and PHY in one chip

  • Support 10Mb/s and 100Mb/s

Promise RAID Controller

  • ATA133 IDE RAID, 0 or 1

Audio

  • Realtek ALC650 6-Channel audio

BIOS

  • The mainboard BIOS provides "Plug & Play" BIOS which detects the peripheral devices and expansion cards of the board automatically

  • The mainboard provides a Desktop Management Interface (DMI) function which records your mainboard specifications

Dimensions & Mounting

  • ATX Form Factor 30.5cm x 20cm

  • 6 mounting holes


THE BUNDLES:

  

The Abit BD7II-RAID ships with what we'd call a "No Nonsense" accessory bundle.  Included with the board are two 80-Wire UDMA/133 IDE cables, a floppy cable and an additional 2-Port USB bracket.  There is also a CD in the package that contains most of the necessary chipset and assorted drivers, as well as floppy with drivers for the HPT-372 RAID controller.  A very complete user's manual is also included, and a plate to cover the multi-I/O back panel connectors was present as well.

    

The 845E Max2 BLR's bundle, on the other hand, was very impressive.  There were also two 80-Wire UDMA/133 IDE cables and a floppy cable included with the 845E Max2 BLR, as well as a complete user's manual, a manual for the RAID controller and the required driver CD and floppy.  There were two additional USB brackets, for a total of six available ports, and a third bracket that housed additional digital and subwoofer outputs, so users could take advantage of 6-Channel audio capabilities of this board.  One of the USB brackets also has four 4 diagnostic LEDs, which can light up in 16 different color combinations.  Each of these combinations, translates into a different problem, which makes a system based on the 845E Max2 BLR relatively easy to diagnose should a problem arise.

The "B" in BLR stands for "Bluetooth".  Bluetooth is a wireless technology that is meant to eliminate cables connecting printers, PDAs or similar devices.  Due to the fact that Bluetooth requires very little power, it's range is limited to somewhere around 20 or 30 feet.  The kit MSI includes with the 845E Max2 BLR comes with a transceiver card, that plugs into a tiny socket on the mainboard, and a USB key.  With this kit, MSI delivers a few useful Bluetooth services like a wireless serial port, fax capabilities, information synchronization (between a PC and PDA or cell), dial-up networking (share a modem wirelessly), network access, and file transfers.  We didn't have any Bluetooth capable accessories in the lab to properly test these features, but give kudos to MSI for being proactive and supporting this emerging technology.

The BIOSes, Layouts and Quality 

 
 
Tags:  MSI, RAID, X2, BD, MS, Abit, AI, id

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