Intel D845PEBT2 i845PE Motherboard Review

Intel D845PEBT2 i845PE Motherboard Review - Page 2

Intel D845PEBT2 i845PE Motherboard Review
Intel Appeals to the Enthusiast

By: Chris Angelini
December 29, 2002

Board Layout and BIOS of the D845PEBT2
Feature-rich, at least for Intel!

Designing a reliable motherboard starts with power delivery.  Many motherboard manufacturers skimp in this department, opting for a two-phase power solution instead of three, which negatively impacts the life of the motherboard.  Intel doesn't hold back though, as the D845PEBT2 utilizes a three-phase solution.  Eleven capacitors surround the Socket 478 processor interface but are small enough to not interfere with heat sink installation.  However, the i845PE MCH is passively cooled with a large heatsink that does have the potential to obstruct a larger heat sink.  The 20-pin ATX power connector is thoughtfully located on the upper right-hand corner of the board, far from the processor.


The big addition to the i845PE chipset is validated PC2700 DDR memory support.  It's no secret that the Pentium 4 processor demonstrates top performance on a platform with lots of memory bandwidth, so i845PE is a significant improvement over the original i845E.  As a trade off for the faster memory support, the D845PEBT2 is only able to offer two memory slots with a 2GB memory ceiling.  If you'd prefer a little more flexibility in terms of future upgrades, ASUS' P4PE i845PE board features the same PC2700 memory support and includes three DIMM slots instead of two. 

One AGP and five PCI slots

Silicon Image SATA Controller

Intel includes a CNR slot even though the D845PEBT2 comes with integrated Ethernet.  Also present are five PCI slots and a single AGP 4x slot.  At this point we aren't too concerned with the lack of AGP 8x support as many of the other AGP 8x-compliant boards we've tested exhibit some degree of instability, namely with the ATI RADEON 9700 Pro.  All of the i845PE boards we've tested work properly, though.  We did notice that the AGP slot is placed uncomfortably close to the two DIMM slots, so if you were to install a RADEON 9700 Pro at the wrong angle you may risk shearing the capacitor at the bottom of the card.  Further, if you want to perform a memory upgrade, you'll certainly have to remove the graphics card.  The floppy and IDE connectors are behind the AGP slot but orientated in such a way as to clear the graphics card with no problem.



In the past, we've seen Intel implement some fairly mundane BIOS options.  Choices essential to the system setup are about all that are offered.  However, the D845PEBT2 deviates from that path, if only just a little.  When it comes to tweaking features like the AGP bus, very few options are given (as illustrated in the first picture).  But memory timings are opened up for modification, though not to the extent we've seen from some of the more popular Taiwanese manufacturers.  With the latest BIOS release Intel has even implemented an overclocking feature that is offhandedly called "Burn-In Mode" and is to be used for "validation and test purposes only."  There aren't many options available in burn-in mode, but the settings that are available can be seen in the second picture.  In the interest of noise control, Intel has also added a variable fan control that can increase or decrease the cooling fan speed based on operating temperature.


A standard hardware monitoring screen shows voltages, fan speeds and temperature readings on the board, even though there are no adjustable voltage options within the BIOS.  Intel also offers a software utility that displays these same readings from within Windows.  The main BIOS screen contains general system information, as well as a switch for HyperThreading (in the case of applicable processors, of course).  Among the other chipsets that share HT support are Intel's i850E (which has also been validated with PC1066 RDRAM support), the i845GE chipset and VIA's P4X400 core logic. SiS will join the ranks soon, as its 655 dual-channel DDR chipset is still in the works.


Overclocking is a luxury we've grown accustomed to thanks to competition in the hardware enthusiast market.  Intel still doesn't condone it and so it is consequently no surprise that the D845PEBT2 doesn't offer selectable front side bus settings. It does, however, offer the aforementioned "Burn-in Mode" that reportedly adjusts the host clock by up to four percent.  We updated our board with the necessary BIOS and tried our hand at overclocking Intel-style, but to no avail.  We tried power supplies, different video cards, memory modules, and processors, but in each situation the board would reboot before finishing the POST.  C'est la vie, we weren't expecting much in the overclocking department anyway.  At least Intel is on the right track by incorporating some sort of option to run its products out of spec.


System Setup, SiSoft Sandra, and Unreal Tournament 2003

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