Intel's D845GEBV2, A Quick Take:
The i845GE based Intel board we tested, unfortunately was a little more plain vanilla than its Asus counterpart. However, users are treated to integrated 10/100 Ethernet, 6 Channel Sound, 4 USB 2.0 ports and integrated Intel "Extreme Graphics", should you have the need to build a cost sensitive configuration. The integrated graphics portion of this Intel offering is certainly not intended to cater to the serious gaming community however. Think of about 60 fps in Quake 3 at 800X600X32 and about 23 fps in Unreal Tournament 2003 at the same resolution but without any DX8 special effects.
The i845GE's integrated graphics are anything but "extreme" actually. Regardless, should you only have the need to game on a few "light duty" occasions, perhaps this feature will serve your needs. For Team HotHardware however, we'll just plug in a Radeon 9700 or GeForce 4 Ti4600, thank you very much.
Of The Asus P4PE and The Intel D845GEBV2
| A tale of two BIOSes
Asus' P4PE BIOS Setup
Intel's D845GEBV2 BIOS Setup
The Asus P4PE is certainly setup to entertain the PC Enthusiast. It has just about every bell and whistle one could imagine in its BIOS. For starters, you get FSB selections up to 200MHz in 1MHz increments. Then there are the memory timing ratios, which as you can see above, offer 400MHz DDR timing, when the FSB is set to 150MHz. Talk about overclocking nirvana. The sweet spot for many a P4, that we've had in house, is 150MHz FSB mark, so the P4PE dials in quite well here. There are also a plethora of voltage adjustments for CPU core, DDR DRAM, and even AGP!
The icing on the cake, would have to be the memory timing options, many of which most users will have no clue how they affect performance, but for them, tweaking is half the fun. DRAM Burst Rate, Idle Timer and Refresh Rate, are a few of the settings that will leave novice users in the dark but trial and error tactics will suffice. Finally, this brings us to one last feature we should mention, that is available with many Asus BIOS variants. If you set the board up in the BIOS in such a way that it won't boot, upon cycling the power, the board will automatically set itself to defaults timings, allowing the user to go back and try again, without having to clear the CMOS manually. In short, the BIOS on this board is about as perfect as we've seen.
The Intel D845GEBV2 on the other hand, left us with one word in mind..."yawn". Intel intentionally doesn't give the user overclocking options of any shape or form, since they don't officially support/condone overclocking in any way. Think about the warranty issues alone, if you were the manufacturer of a CPU like a Pentium 4, and you'll understand why this is so. No, about the only thing you'll find that is even remotely "tweakable" with the D854GEBV2's BIOS, is the memory timing section, where users are allowed to adjust RAS, CAS, Pre-charge...etc. We should note one thing that is a major benefit in going with a sometimes bland Intel motherboard like the D845GEBV2, they are easily some of the most stable products on the market. Even PLL timing on these boards meet exacting specifications, with very little drift or jitter. In fact, our board posted a perfect 2.53GHz under SiSoft Sandra CPU tests.
Speaking of which, let's move out to some basic testing.
Vital Signs With Sandra and Overclocking