i875P "Canterwood", as well as the i865 "Springdale"
chipsets, have generated quite a buzz within the
enthusiast community and for good reason! It has
been almost three years since the
release of the i850 chipset, and only now is there a
viable alternative for users seeking peak performance from
their Pentium 4 systems. Sure, there was the i850E
and Intel's first dual-channel DDR266 chipset the E7205
"Granite Bay", but neither one of these chipsets were
terribly exciting. The i850E was basically a rehash
of the i850 but with "official" 533MHz bus support and the
"Granite Bay" didn't have truly dominant performance,
trading benchmark victories with the i850. In fact,
a few popular manufacturers like Abit and Soyo passed on
these chipsets altogether, never releasing products based
on either one. All the while, the AMD camp had been
blessed with a slew of cool next generation chipsets from
VIA and NVIDIA. So, where was Intel? Well,
they weren't sitting on their hands waiting for RAMBUS to
deliver faster RDRAM. They were hard at work
designing the i875P "Canterwood" chipset, that powers the
three motherboards we'll be looking at today.
already taken a look at
a few boards based on the i875P chipset and can safely
say Intel has a winning combination on their hands.
Intel not only raised the performance bar with the i875P,
but they integrated a myriad of new features as well.
Intel has finally given Pentium 4 fans a reason to get
excited about a new chipset release. As as result,
virtually all of the major OEMs have since introduced
products based on the i875P. In this article we'll
be looking at three full-featured "Canterwood" boards, the
875P Neo-FIS2R from MSI, the LANPARTY Pro875 from DFI and
Chaintech's 9CJS. All three of these products offer
some intriguing, relatively unique features. What do
you say we nix the "small talk", bring an end to this
prologue and see what these bad-boys are made of? We
thought you'd like that...
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR
AN ENLARGED VIEW
the Intel i875P "Canterwood" Chipset
Intel's Best Yet...
We have already covered the i875P "Canterwood" chipset in
detail, so we won't spend too much time on it here.
The i875P's main attractions are its Dual-Channel DDR400
capable memory controller, PAT (Performance Acceleration
Technology), full AGP8X support, CSA (Communication
Streaming Architecture) network bus
technology, native SATA interface (with RAID 0 and soon
RAID 1 on the ICH5R) and official 800MHz system bus
support. The Dual-Channel DDR400 memory controller
with "PAT", which offers up to 6.4GB/s of total bandwidth
at default clock speeds, is the main reason for the
i875P's high end performance, but each of the features
listed above increase overall performance on their own
merits as well. The "CSA" gives the Gigabit Ethernet
controller a direct 266MB/s link to the Northbridge,
alleviating the 133MB/s PCI bottleneck and the native SATA
drive interface increases theoretical peak data transfer
rates to 150MB/s.
The MSI 875P
Neo-FIS2R came with the most "traditional" bundle.
There may not have been any flashy items like a remote
control or PC tote, but the bundle was very complete
nonetheless. Inside the box, we found four SATA
cables, two SATA-to-Molex power adapters, a standard
floppy cable and a single rounded 80-Wire IDE cable.
A user's manual and SATA RAID guide are also included,
along with a custom I/O port shield, a case badge and
three case brackets, one with digital audio connectors,
one with dual IEEE-1394 ports and the last with two USB
2.0 ports and diagnostic LEDs. A driver CD-ROM and
floppy disks with drivers for both on-board RAID
controllers shipped with the board, as well as a utility
CD containing Adobe Photoshop Album SE, WinDVD 4, WinRIP
2, Virtual Drive 7, Restore IT! 3 and Media Ring.
- DFI bundles
their "LANPARTY" Pro875 with an impressive list of
goodies, that are designed to appeal to LAN gamers who
frequently move their systems from one location to
another. Included with the board, we found two
rounded 80-Wire IDE cables, a single rounded floppy cable
and two SATA cables. Unfortunately, DFI only bundled
a single SATA-to-Molex power adapter. There is also
a Quick Reference poster included, in addition to a case
badge, a large "LANPARTY" decal, a custom I/O shield and
two case brackets for a game port and digital audio
connectors. Driver floppies and a driver CD-ROM are
also bundled with the board along with a copy of
Intervideo's WinCinema video editing software.
Lastly, DFI included a set of
FrontX Multimedia ports, that bring audio and USB
connectors to the front of your system, and a "PC Transpo"
that makes carrying a system and its accessories much
9CJS had, what we consider to be, the best bundle of the
group. Chaintech included a case badge, a 4-in-1
screwdriver, a custom I/O shield, two rounded 80-Wire IDE
cables, a rounded floppy cable, an optical audio cable,
two SATA cables and two SATA-to-Molex power adapters.
A riser card, with IEEE-1394 "Firewire" and digital audio
connectors, was included as well. Three CDs were
also bundled with the board, one with drivers and
utilities, one with the user's manual is digital form and
another with copies of Norton Antivirus 2002, Adobe
Activeshare and Adobe's Acrobat and eBook readers.
The most interesting accessories were Chaintech's "Handigator"
and C-Box3. The C-Box3 adds a myriad of valuable
features to the 9CJS, namely a 6-in-1 card reader and
front mounted IEEE-1394, USB and audio connectors.
The C-Box3 also has a diagnostic LED readout, similar to
the on-board P80P Debug (POST) controller found on
motherboards like the
EPoX 8K7A and
Abit TH7-II. The "Handigator" remote control was
another welcome addition. With the Handigator, users
can power their systems on or off and control applications
like Internet Explorer, WinDVD or WinAMP, among others.
The remote control also doubles as wireless mouse.
Our only gripe with the Handigator is that it is an IR
remote, so it works only when pointed directly at the IR
sensor on the front of the C-Box3.
Let's Take A Look At