MSI 845G MaxL i845G Motherboard

The MSI 845G MaxL i845G Motherboard Review - Page 3


The MSI 845G Max-L Motherboard Review
Integrated Graphics and Bluetooth Technology

By -Chris Angelini
June 28th, 2002

Benchmarks and Comparisons Continued...
Synthetics and Games

PC Mark 2002

PCMark's Hard Drive score reiterates the results from SysMark 2002 Office Productivity - the SiS 645 suffers tremendously.  In fact, both Intel-based motherboards perform more than 33 percent better in disk transfers!  Nevertheless, the SiS 645 still manages to outperform the i845G chipset in memory bandwidth, thanks to well-implemented PC2700 support.

3D Mark 2001 SE

There isn't much to report here.  All three systems perform comparably, though the 845G Max-L is edged out by both the P4T-E and the 645 Ultra.  Once again, memory bandwidth plays an important role in this 3D benchark.

Quake III: Arena

Quake III has always demonstrated a particular sensitivity to memory bandwidth, so it is a little surprising that all three boards perform so closely despite different bandwidth capabilities.  When the 845G Max is overclocked, the extra bandwidth and processing power lends quite a boost, as the score jumps to 234.4 frames per second. 

Serious Sam SE

The P4T-E has consistently taken first place finishes and the Serious Sam SE  benchmark shows no different. The 845G Max takes second and is followed closely by the 645 Ultra.

Bluetooth Communications
Convenient, but Slow

It's difficult not to like the 845G Max-L. It sports an impressive list of features, the most unique of which is a Bluetooth setup.  I'd like to set the record straight on Bluetooth, though.  By no means will this wireless technology replace your broadband adapter or suffice as a 802.11b alternative.  Instead, Bluetooth is designed to eliminate cables coming from printers, laptops, PDA's and even cell phones.  Bluetooth draws relatively little power and as a result, cannot transfer more than 20 or 30 feet.  The kit MSI includes with the 845G Max-L comes with a transceiver and a USB key.  I had no problem installing the key on my laptop (running Windows XP) and establishing a Bluetooth connection between it and the PC.

Several Bluetooth services are offered - wireless serial port, faxing, information synchronization (between a PC and PDA or cell), dial-up networking (share a modem wirelessly), network access, and file transfer.

I conducted my own benchmark, transferring a 6,840,515 byte file from a 2.4GHz desktop to a 1GHz laptop.  The entire transfer took two minutes and 18 seconds.  A quick calculation yields 397kbps - a far cry from the 11Mbps maximum of 802.11b and even the 1Mbps limit for Bluetooth.  Clearly, you wouldn't want to transfer large files over a Bluetooth network.

Integrated Graphics
Enough power?  No such thing!

Another of the 845G Max's selling points is integrated graphics.  For those who aren't interested in 3D performance, the integrated graphics solution will suffice.  If games are of interest, though, keep in mind that the graphics core features neither DirectX 7 hard-wired T&L support nor DirectX programmability.  It contains one rendering pipeline (clocked at 200MHz) capable of processing four textures per pass.  Unfortunately, the combination of low operating frequency and a single pipeline is a bane for graphically intensive games, like first person shooters.

When I think of extreme, I am reminded of sky diving, street luge, or Cannonball Runs.  R300 and NV30 - these graphics processors will be extreme.  Intel's Extreme Graphics Architecture is more accurately likened to a group of elderly women, knitting. You'll certainly want to invest in an AGP card if gaming is a priority.

MSI has put together a fairly comprehensive product.  The 845G Max-L offers highly competitive performance and a long list of features.  It would have been nice to see functional PC2700 memory support, but it is an unofficial feature, after all.  Bluetooth and USB 2.0 are both high points, as is the overclockable nature of the i845G chipset. 

The most compelling quality of the 845G Max-L, though, is it's price.  The board can be found online for under $100, which is an undeniable bargain considering graphics, audio, USB 2.0 support and 10/100 Ethernet are also part of the package.  Despite a couple minor oversights on the part of MSI, the 845G Max-L is deserving of an '8' on the Hot Hardware Heat Meter.


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Tags:  MSI, Motherboard, MS, board, 5G, AR

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