i845PE Motherboard Shootout

i845PE Motherboard Shootout - Page 6

The I845PE Motherboard Shootout
Clash of the Titans!

By Robert Maloney
December 11,  2002


"Real World" Performance with the Stones
Simulated Application Performance

Business Winstone is an application-based benchmark, which runs through a series of scripts using popular business programs. It attempts to emulate a business system load, and then gives a rating. We used the default settings so that these scripts were executed five times.  The final score is the average of the five test runs.

The Business Winstone tests include:

  • Five Microsoft Office 2000 applications (Access, Excel, FrontPage, PowerPoint, and Word)

  • Microsoft Project 98

  • Lotus Notes R5

  • NicoMak WinZip

  • Norton Antivirus

  • Netscape Communicator

Content Creation Winstone 2002 is another application-based benchmark, this time using popular content creation programs that are considered more "bandwidth hungry". It keeps these multiple applications open and switches among them while running scripts.

The Content Creation Winstone tests include:

  • 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)

These tests were the first ones so far in which the Gigabyte 8PE667 did not come in first.  In all tests for both Business and Content Creation Winstones, the Abit BE7 won, sometimes rather handily.  It even managed to outperform the Gigabyte board during overclocking, overcoming the 2MHz increase in FSB that the 8PE667 had.  In the Content Creation scores, the MSI board had its best showing as well, coming in an ever so close second place at stock speeds.


It appears that Intel has definitely come up with a winner with the new i845PE chipset.  Combining the established 845 chipset with DDR333 support gives a great improvement in performance, and it's hard to not recommend using one of these boards when building a new system, or even when considering an upgrade.  But, which to choose?

MSI 845PE Max2 FIR

At first glance, the MSI 845PE Max2-FIR board looked well prepared to take on all challengers.  The red PCB distinguished it as a MSI product, as did the custom heatsink and fan.  The board came stocked with some nice features such as ATA133 RAID and on-board audio using a hardware based solution.  It even came with Gigabit LAN capabilities, putting it ahead of the curve.  The bundle we received came with everything one could hope for, and was the only board that had FireWire ports.  Unfortunately, it repeatedly came in last place in the benchmarks.  Add that to the fact that this was the highest priced board of the trio, averaging around a $150.  All things considered, this is still a great board, and we give the MSI 845PE Max2-FIR board an 8 on the HotHardware Heat Meter.

  • PCB looks good with Radeons
  • 6-channel PCI audio
  • Active heatsink on NB
  • Gigabit LAN
  • Highest price tag
  • Lowest performance in tests
  • Memory speeds are locked
  • Can't install large heatsinks


Abit's philosophy with the Abit BE7 RAID appears to be function over form.  It doesn't have all of the glam of the other boards, lacking any fancy color schemes, and no active cooling on the Northbridge.  The bundle was also somewhat lacking, with only the basics to get a PC builder going.  While the looks were nothing special, the performance was great.  It usually came in a close second during most of the benchmarks, and all but swept the Winstones.  For those who aren't all that interested in a board's outward appearance, this would be a great choice, especially since it comes with the lowest price of the three we could find ($128).  We decided on an 8.5 on the Heat Meter.

  • 6-channel on-board audio
  • Not too pricey
  • Great performance vs. price
  • Lack of color of the PCB
  • No active cooling on NB
  • Bundle was lacking

Gigabyte 8PE667 Ultra

It should come as no shock, that the Gigabyte 8PE667 Ultra was our main choice.  It combines the good looks of the MSI 845PE Max2 with the great performance of the Abit BE7 RAID board.  Everything on the board was color coded, even down to the front panel header.  The board was fully featured, allowing for connections for up to 10 USB ports as well as card readers, although it would have been nice to see FireWire connections as well.  In testing, the 8PE667 dominated the charts for the most part, putting up the top numbers time after time.  It also managed to reach the highest overclocked speed.  The only major complaint we could come up with was the added steps necessary to access the Advanced features in the BIOS.  We found the Gigabyte selling for as low as $135 on Pricewatch, only a few bucks more than the Abit BE7, but cheaper than MSI's offering.  With so much going for it, we decided on a 9.5 on the Heat Meter.

  • All the colors of the rainbow!
  • 6-channel on-board audio
  • The performance king
  • Outstanding bundle
  • Odd BIOS keystroke option
  • Can't install larger heatsinks

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