As we noted, the chipset hasn't
really undergone any radical changes but rather has take a
speed bump up a notch to a 533MHz "Quad Pumped" (133MHz Quad
Data Rate) front side bus. As a result, the specs are
pretty straight forward and a picture tells the story just
Fat pipes, more
Here we see the
same feature set as the first revision of the i850.
The only change in this diagram is the 533MHz system bus.
However, word on the street is that Intel's "ICH4" chip is
coming shortly, which should add a few more bells and
whistles to the mix. It will be interesting to see
what the motherboard manufactures can put together with the
i850E and the ICH4. For this review however, we've
tested the i850E driven Intel D850EMV2 motherboard and
pitted it against some stiff competition,
Abit's totally fabulous TH7II-RAID.
The D850EMV2 is
a fairly well rounded board with on board AC '97sound,
support for up to 5 USB 2.0 channels, hardware health
monitoring, etc. There is a version with on board
Intel Pro/100 Ethernet support but we weren't fortunate
enough to score that board. Other than that, the
D850EMV2 is a pretty straight forward quality board from
Intel. Enthusiast who want to overclock probably won't
get too excited with this board however. As with all
Intel boards, CPU set up is done automatically and there are
no available adjustments in the BIOS or with jumpers.
should point out that the D850EMV2 does in fact support an
FSB of 533MHz but will automatically drive any PC800 RDRAM
module at 800MHz speeds. However, if you are in
possession of the currently "rare" officially rated PC1066
stick, with an on board SPD chip that tells the BIOS that it
is a PC1066 module, the D850EMV2 will boot to PC1066 mode
with a "not officially supported" warning. Intel is
not validating the i850E with PC1066 RDRAM until later this
year. However, that didn't stop us from finding
another way to "skin a cat".
Not long ago, we
an article covering a chip level modification that we
did to one of our Abit TH7II-RAID boards. Although the
TH7II-RAID comes equipped with Direct RAMBUS Clock
Generators (DRGC's) that are rated for a 400MHz front side
bus, running the board at 533MHz front side bus and the
RDRAM at 1.066GHz (533MHz DDR), otherwise known as PC1066,
caused us some serious instability. Often times we
couldn't even get the system to boot.
factor with some i850 boards, in getting your PC800 RDRAM to
run at PC1066 levels, surprisingly, is not the RDRAM modules
themselves. Actually, most 8 chip 128MB modules or 16
chip 256MB Samsung modules, will run at PC1066 level with
excellent stability. What is holding you back most of
the time, are the DRCGs themselves.
new TI DRCGs installed on TH7II-RAID
So, we had our
stock PC800 DRCGs professionally replaced with Texas
Instruments PC1066 capable DRCGs. Some of our readers
have reported in that in fact they have been running at
PC1066 levels, with Pentium 4 1.6A chips, with the stock ICS
DRCGs that are on the TH7II-RAID. However, we haven't
been so lucky and the only way we could get a stable system
was to have the new TI DRCGs that handle 533MHz speeds,
soldered on in place of the ICS parts. For a skilled
PCB rework technician (like the woman that worked on our
board) this is a very easy remove and replace procedure.
However, it is not for the novice.
results were that we effectively took our stock Abit
TH7II-RAID and turned it into an i850 board that was not
only capable of the 533MHz front side bus (adjustable in the
BIOS) but could also run our PC800 RDRAM at PC1066 speed, so
we could see the full potential of the Pentium 4B processor.
We should also
note that we have heard of other boards on the market,
Asus P4TE, that we have been told have stock 533MHz
DRCGs installed. Frankly, that would be a great
option, if you can confirm that they are in fact on a
particular board, before you buy it. You'll see why in
the following pages.
Setup and Preliminary Numbers