DFI NB76EA i845G Motherboard

The DFI NB76EA i845G Motherboard - Page 3

The DFI NB76-EA i845G Motherboard
A Powerful Package Without a Premium Price...

By, Robert Maloney
July 1, 2002

Ok, we?ve seen what the system is capable of, but what about gaming? What kind of 3D performance are we looking at? Well, let?s find out.

Benchmarks with 3D Mark 2001 SE
Gaming Goodness

Also from MadOnion was 3DMark 2001 SE, which really puts graphics capabilities to the test by using a lot of shading and rendering techniques. Since we are looking for more system related scores, and not looking to test the video card only, we used lower resolutions and color depths than you would normally see in a video card review.

At 640x480x16, the onboard Intel Extreme graphics obviously get romped by the GF4, but no one expected it to take on the king of the hill. Overclocking gave us a sweet 13,033.

At the next two resolutions we see the same exact breakdown of scores. There really isn?t much else to say except the DFI NB76-EA when pared with a GF4 seems to be a capable gaming system.

Gaming Performance with Quake 3
OpenGL Action

I also thought I would throw in a quick Quake 3 Score to give a real-world result. 3DMark 2001 SE is a good way to compare two systems, but what can we expect in a real gaming situation? Once again, we set Quake to it's fastest setting, at 640x480x16 bit color, with the lowest available graphic settings.

The onboard video pumped out a healthy 91 frames per second, which is ?good enough? for basic gaming. Not shown here, I did run these again at 1024x768, and still managed to get 42.6 fps out of the Intel Extreme Graphics. This is still good enough to enjoy the game, especially for non-hardcore gamers who don?t mind turning down the graphics settings some, or only play the occasional game or two. The Transcend board outclassed the DFI NB76-EA by 10% or so, until we got to overclocking, after which we zipped through the demo at an ungodly 282.4 FPS.

"Real World" Performance with the Stones
Simulated Application Performance

Last, but not least, are two benchmarks from Ziff Davis ? Business Winstone 2001 and Content Creation Winstone 2002.

Business Winstone is an application-based benchmark, which runs through a series of scripts using business programs such as Microsoft Office 2000, FrontPage 2000, Lotus Notes and Netscape. It attempts to emulate a business system load, and then gives a rating. We left the default setting so that these scripts were done five times and the final score given.

At stock speeds, the DFI NB76-EA was right on with the Transcend board, and from there it just got better and better. Replacing the onboard video with the GeForce 4 card bumped up the score 2 points, and installing IAA gave us another 4. Overclocking brought us up to 62.3, over a 20% increase from the original score.

Content Creation Winstone 2002 is another application-based benchmark, this time using popular content creation programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Premiere, Macromedia Director and Dreamweaver, and Microsoft Windows Media Encoder. It keeps these multiple applications open and switches among them while running scripts.

The scores were all close, save for the one obtained while overclocking. Interestingly, there was no big increase after applying IAA as we had seen with the Business Winstone.


We ran the DFI NB-76EA through its paces, and clearly it produced solid results. The claims about IAA resulting in performance increases were proven, I feel, by the difference in benchmark scores before and after installing it. Installation was smooth, and I recommend using all the drivers included on the CD, in the order they appear; top to bottom to get the best results. As for stability, only once did the system lock up or give a serious error, and that was when heavily overclocking. The system booted, but was starting to become unstable and I had to manually restart the system after Windows became unresponsive.

This could be the kind of product that shrewd IT departments will be looking for since very capable video, audio, and LAN solutions already come on the board. It also comes with USB 2.0 ports which can reach speeds up to 480 Mbps/second, perfect for digital cameras, web cams, or other external devices. The inclusion of something as innovative as the Smart Card reader, which can be used to secure a workstation, and the built-in safety of the Bitguard system and onboard LEDs show that DFI is committed to making feature rich, yet stable systems.

I was only able to compare the DFI NB-76EA to one other board, but I think the numbers still show that this is a very capable product. DFI is looking ahead by providing support for Pentium 4s that use a 533MHz FSB and by unofficially supporting DDR333 memory speeds, allowing for future upgradeability, which means you won?t have to go looking for a new board anytime soon. Even though the Intel Extreme graphics put up a decent showing, it comes at the sacrifice of true hardware T&L, something which new games are using more and more, and I would really have to recommend that gamers pick up a something more powerful. Looking at the complete package presented before me, and the results of my tests, I give the DFI NB-76EA a 9 on the HotHardware Heat Meter.


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Tags:  Motherboard, board, 5G, EA, AR

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