DFI AD73 RAID Motherboard

The DFI AD73 RAID Motherboard Review - Page 3


The DFI AD73 RAID Motherboard Review
Plain on the Outside, Powerful on the Inside

By, Jeff Bouton
April 18, 2002

Benchmarks and Comparisons Continued...
DirectX and The Winstones...

PCMark2002 "HDD":

When it came to the hard drive performance, the Shuttle board took the lead with its High-Point RAID controller.  Both the DFI and the MSI sport Promise solutions, the DFI with the Promise PDC20265R and the MSI with the 20276.

Next we decided to toss in a few 3DMark2001SE scores to demonstrate some gaming performance amongst the three systems using an nvidia Ti500 video card.

Direct X with MadOnion's 3DMark2001:

Once again, the DFI system put up a nice showing against the KT333 systems, lurching ahead of the Shuttle board by 186 points.  The MSI KT3 took the prize, pushing ahead of the DFI by over 300 points.  Next we'll set the resolution to 1024x768x32 and see how the board adapt to the increased load.

Here the MSI still beat out the other two systems, but note how the drop in score was much greater with the DFI system compared to the KT333 based boards.  The Shuttle board held firm with a drop of roughly 600 points while the other two systems were closer to a 900 point drop.  Nonetheless, all systems performed exceptionally well and the DFI proved that it could roll with the KT333 systems without a fuss.

Now we'll stop playing games and get back to business, Business Winstone 2001 that is.

Business Winstone 2001:

Below is the description from the etestinglabs website of how Business Winstone 2001 tests a systems performance.

"Business Winstone is a system-level, application-based benchmark that measures a PC's overall performance when running today's top-selling Windows-based 32-bit applications on Windows 98 SE, Windows NT 4.0 (SP6 or later), Windows 2000, Windows Me, or Windows XP. Business Winstone doesn't mimic what these packages do; it runs real applications through a series of scripted activities and uses the time a PC takes to complete those activities to produce its performance scores. The CD-ROM that contains Business Winstone includes all the files and application portions you need to run the benchmark."

Here is where the new KT333 chipset shines.  Although the DFI AD73 RAID system came in third with 60 points, this is still an excellent result.  Coming in within 6 points of the MSI board is a fine achievement when you consider that the MSI board is almost twice the price of the DFI system.  Although the Shuttle system is priced more competitively, it will be slightly more expensive than the DFI.

Now let's take a look at Content Creation Winstone 2002.

Content Creation Winstone 2002:

Below is the description from the etestinglabs  website of how Content CreationWinstone 2002 tests a systems performance.

"Content Creation Winstone is a system-level, application-based benchmark that measures a PC's overall performance when running top, Windows-based, 32-bit, content creation applications on Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows Me, or Windows XP. Content Creation Winstone 2002 uses the following applications:

  • Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1

  • Adobe Premiere 6.0

  • Macromedia Director 8.5

  • Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev 4

  • Microsoft Windows Media Encoder

  • Netscape Navigator 6/6.01

  • Sonic Foundry Sound Forge 5.0c (build 184)

Following the lead of real users, Content Creation Winstone 2002 keeps multiple applications open at once and switches among those applications. Content Creation Winstone 2002 is a single large test that runs the above applications through a series of scripted activities and returns a single score. Those activities focus on what we call "hot spots," periods of activity that make your PC really work--the times where you're likely to see an hourglass or a progress bar."

In this round of tests the DFI AD73 RAID system worked very well, coming with in a point of the Shuttle AK35GT2/R system.  Clearly all of these systems are quite capable in all of these tests, but when you factor in the differences in scores and price points, the DFI is an excellent and economical choice.

So, you've been hearing all the noise about the new KT333 based motherboards and have been wondering if you should be shelling out the cash for the latest and greatest board.  Well, you might want to consider this, throughout our testing of the DFI AD73 RAID motherboard, the board performed exceptionally well, sometimes even better than the KT333 based systems.  Factor in the cost of a high-end board like the MSI KT3 Ultra-ARU (around $130) compared to the DFI's (closer to $75) and the decision should be a little easier.  Yes the MSI has a lot more bells and whistles, but if performance is what you are looking for, the DFI is an economical alternative to the more expensive board.

I have had the opportunity to review a number of motherboards from DFI in the past few years and there a few things that you can usually expect from them.  For one, they don't focus on flashy boards with tons of bells and whistles, they aim to build motherboards with good performance and excellent stability.  In fact, anyone who has asked me about DFI boards in the past all get the same answer, "they may not be the fastest, but the performance is above average and they are stable."  Well, with the AD73 RAID motherboard, this still holds true.

When it comes to rating this board, it would not be fair to rate it against the two reference systems that we used throughout our tests.  Those were simply used to gauge performance and nothing else, and they are geared more towards the enthusiast market.  But when you look at the board for what it is, an economical KT266A workstation quality motherboard, the DFI AD73 RAID truly shines.  Although it appears to be a plain vanilla board at first glance, the AD73 impressed us where it mattered, in quality, performance and stability.  We did find it odd that the AD73 RAID offers an ATA133 IDE controller and yet the Promise controller is ATA100.  Nonetheless, anyone who is looking for an excellent KT266A system without the need for all the trimmings of more expensive systems, should look no further than the DFI AD73 RAID.

We give the DFI AD73 RAID Motherboard a Hot Hardware Heat Meter Rating of a 8.


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Tags:  Motherboard, RAID, board, AI, id, AR

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