i845PE Motherboard Shootout

Article Index

i845PE Motherboard Shootout - Page 4

The I845PE Motherboard Shootout
Clash of the Titans!

By Robert Maloney
December 11,  2002

   

TESTING METHODOLOGY:

To help fully explain the scores we listed in the following benchmarks, we felt it was necessary to explain how the systems were setup before running the benchmarks. On all of the boards, we started off by manually optimizing the BIOS settings to the most aggressive system options available. The memory frequency was manually set to DDR333 with the CAS timings set to 2-5-5-2 with a 1T command rate.  The hard drive was formatted, and Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 1 was installed. After the Windows installation was complete, we installed the Intel Chipset update drivers and Application Accelerator, and then installed the drivers for the rest of the components, using the supplied on the CDs.  For the GeForce card, we downloaded and installed the latest NVIDIA reference drivers, version 41.03.  Auto-Updating, Hibernation, and System Restore were disabled, and then we set up a 512MB permanent page file. On these test systems we set the visual quality to "best performance" in the system properties as well as in the video drivers.  With the newer 41.03 drivers, there are options to set the level of the drivers between "application" and "aggressive".  For this choice, we chose the aggressive setting.  Lastly, we installed all of the benchmarking software, defragged the machine, and rebooted one last time. 

The Hot Hardware Test Systems
Intel Showcase...

 
TEST BOARDS:

MSI 845PE Max2

Abit BE7 RAID

Gigabyte 8PE667 Ultra

 

COMMON HARDWARE:

 

Intel Pentium 4 2.26 GHz 533MHz FSB
512MB Corsair PC3200 DDR
Chaintech GeForce 4 Ti 4600

On-board AC'97 audio
Western Digital WD200BB ATA100 7200rpm 20GB Hard Drive
Creative Labs 52x CD-ROM
Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 1
Intel Chipset Drivers, version 4.00.1013

Intel Application Accelerator, version 2.2.2

NVIDIA Detonator Drivers, version 41.03
 

Performance Comparisons with SiSoft SANDRA
Synthetic Action

SANDRA (the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information and diagnostic utility put out by the folks at SiSoftware.  It's a quick and easy way to compare the CPU, Memory, and Hard drive performance of a given system against an internal database of similar systems and drives. These benchmarks are theoretical scores, and can't necessarily be quantified in ?real-world? terms, but provide a good way to make comparisons amongst like components.  For each test that we ran, we chose components from the database list that we thought would be found in comparable mainstream PCs.  We ran a set of tests at 133MHz FSB, and then again at each board's maximum stable overclock.

MSI
CPU Arithmetic
@ 133MHz

MSI
CPU Arithmetic
@ 166MHz

ABIT
CPU Arithmetic
@ 133MHz

ABIT
CPU Arithmetic
@ 166MHz

 
GIGABYTE
CPU Arithmetic
@ 133MHz

 
GIGABYTE
CPU Arithmetic
@ 168MHz

As we can see by the graphs above, all three boards are good performers, and all fall within approximately 100 points of each other.  The nod, although slight, goes to the Gigabyte 8PE667 with a score that actually falls above the stock score for a Pentium 4 2.4GHz CPU.  In fact, all of the board scores come much closer to the P4 2.4 score then we would have expected.  The order of the three boards remained the same after overclocking them, with the Abit and MSI boards reaching 166MHz for the front side bus, and the Gigabyte 8PE667 topping the other two by hitting a stable 168MHz. 

MSI
CPU Multimedia
@ 133MHz
MSI
CPU Multimedia
@ 166MHz
ABIT
CPU Multimedia
@ 133MHz
ABIT
CPU Multimedia
@ 166MHz

 
GIGABYTE
CPU Multimedia
@ 133MHz

 
GIGABYTE
CPU Multimedia
@ 168MHz

The CPU Multimedia tests didn't offer any new insights, with the order remaining with Gigabyte in the lead, then the MSI 845PE, and finally the Abit BE7.  While the difference between the two latter boards was a slight 27 points, the Gigabyte board led the MSI board by close to 100 more points.  The scores we achieved were between the database scores for a P4 2GHz and a 2.4GHz CPU, as one should expect. 

MSI
Memory @ 133MHz
MSI
Memory @ 166MHz
ABIT
Memory @ 133MHz
ABIT
Memory @ 166MHz
 
GIGABYTE
Memory @ 133MHz
 
GIGABYTE
Memory @ 168MHz

When we got to the memory bandwidth test, we found that the MSI and Abit boards exactly matched each other, and the Gigabyte squeaked out a 10 point victory.  We were pleased with the results of these tests, as they were better than the DDR333 scores found in SANDRA's database for a competing chipset (the P4X333) and right on target with the SiS645.  The gap between DDR and RAMBUS was narrowed to only 200 points in these tests, showing the major strides that manufacturers have made with DDR memory.  What really caught our attention during these tests was the poor showing of the MSI board when overclocked.  As mentioned earlier, the BIOS settings on the MSI 845PE Max2 sets the speed for the RAM, rather than letting it scale with the speed of the front side bus.  In doing so, overclocking actually resulted in a decrease in memory performance, dropping 40 points while the other two boards saw increases of 600-650 points.

MSI
File System Performance

ABIT
File System Performance

GIGABYTE
File System Performance

All boards produced scores well above the database score for a standard ATA100, 7200rpm hard drive using a FAT32 partition.  The Abit board held a slight lead over the others, getting an extra 100 points in file system performance courtesy of the superior HPT/372 controller.

Performance Comparisons with PC Mark 2002
CPU and Memory Testing

For our next comparison, we chose MadOnion?s PCMark 2002. PCMark 2002 performs a series of tasks such as image compression, text searches, and audio conversion to give us three scores: CPU, Memory, and Hard Disk Drive (HDD).   It is a relatively quick process for comparing the performance of two or more systems.  We ran a set of tests at 133MHz and then ran another set after getting a stable overclock, 166MHz FSBs for the Abit and MSI boards and 168MHz for the Gigabyte. 

We expected that these scores would follow what we originally saw with SANDRA 2002, and we were not surprised.  While we tried to keep BIOS settings as similar as possible, the Gigabyte board dominated these tests, beating out the Abit board by 50 points, which had moved ahead of the MSI board by 25 points itself.   After overclocking the boards, we found the difference between the Abit and MSI boards to be relatively unchanged.  The Gigabyte 8PE667 improved its lead, however, benefiting by the extra 2MHz we managed to add to the FSB.

Here we saw a flip-flop of the second and third place boards.  The MSI board had an impressive showing, as did the Gigabyte 8PE667, with the Abit board bringing up the rear.  Although it had a great first showing, the MSI 845PE Max2's Memory score suffered after overclocking, just reaching over 6500.  The other two boards were up near the 7000 mark, an 8% difference in performance over the MSI 845PE Max2.    Basically, the MSI board got an 8% increase when overclocked, but the Abit and Gigabyte boards saw a 17% increase, which more than double the MSI board.

All of the hard drive scores were neck and neck, finishing within 35 points of each other. Since all boards were using ATA100 IDE controllers, there really shouldn't be much of a difference, especially considering they were all using the same drive, reformatted for each setup.  If we had to pick a winner here, we would pick the Abit BE7, since it came in first for both rounds of testing.

Some Gaming Scores...

Tags:  Motherboard, shoot, board, SHO, Tout, tou, AR

Related content

Comments

Show comments blog comments powered by Disqus