The Asus P4PE And Intel D845GEBV2 Motherboards
Intel's  i845PE and i845GE Chipsets Hit The Ground Running With DDR

By, Dave Altavilla
October 7,  2002


As a starting point for this article, we'll offer some confessions.  We admit it.  For a long time now we've been die hard RDRAM fans, when it comes to Pentium 4 configurations.  It was just too hard to ignore the simple fact that RAMBUS driven i850/i850E setups offered the best performance, hands down.  We're performance enthusiasts around the HH Lab and there is no way we'll settle for second best, when we have the top dog at our disposal.  As a result, our platform of choice for the Pentium 4 had to be the one that delivered the best performance, regardless of price.  Price was relative back in the hay day of RDRAM, everything was cratering, along with the economy.  However, all of this may change with the introduction of Intel's latest chipsets for the Pentium 4, the i845PE and i845GE.

The problem with previous i845 board incarnations, was that they just couldn't keep up with i850s or even boards based on the SiS 648 or VIA P4X333.  This was largely due to the fact that Intel's limitation of DDR266 speeds across the memory bus, left them a notch behind others in the pack.  However, a new day has dawned for Intel's "value" chipset, and with official DDR333, the high end enthusiast may be sitting up to take notice.  Let's have a look at our contestants.

Dueling i845s - The i845PE Driven Asus P4PE and The Intel i845GE Driven D845GEBV2
The new face of DDR Powered Pentium 4 Performance

Asus P4PE
 
  
     


Intel D845GEBV2
 

  
        

The i845PE and GE chipsets both bring highly anticipated official DDR333 support to Intel's DDR memory controller.  In addition, 6 USB 2.0 interfaces are now supported as well as the standard 6 channel audio that also exists in the i845E of old.   The system bus speeds supported are 533MHz with a full 4.2GB/sec of bandwidth to the Pentium 4 or 400MHz for 3.2GB/sec.  Again these bus speeds are nothing new for the i845 but DDR333 is what we've all been waiting for. The only difference between the GE and PE version of the chipset, would be the obvious addition of integrated graphics that the i845GE brings to the table.  We look more into this later. 

Asus P4PE - Up close and personal:

The Asus P4PE is one fully loaded board.  Since this board is being officially launched today, we don't have "canned" specs for you.  We will however, cover the highlights here and this board has many of them.

     

Integrated 10/100/1000 Ethernet comes courtesy of Broadcom's BCM5702 Gigabit Ethernet MAC, on the version of the P4PE we tested.  This is an optional feature for the board but we get the feeling that there will be more of these boards built this way than not.  The version we received also has dual integrated IEEE1394 Firewire Ports.  But wait, there's more...

   

   

Promise Technologies' PDC20376 SATA 150 RAID Controller was also installed on our board.  The setup that Asus provides, consists of two SATA channels and one EIDE channel.  This makes it a little more cumbersome if you are setting up EIDE RAID, since Serial ATA drives are pretty much non-existent at this point in time.  You'll have to configure a Master/Slave setup if you are going the EIDE RAID route, which is less than optimal in terms of performance.  Regardless, this is a great feature, one that will prove to be even more valuable as SATA hard drives become more prevalent in the market place.


Stats On The Intel D845GEBV2 Motherboard