Intel has a very interesting way of doing business. The company has really put the screws to AMD by releasing faster Pentium 4 models, and on a schedule that would make NVIDIA blush. On the chipset and platform side, Intel takes a decidedly different view and usually follows their competitors rather than being the driver of new motherboard technologies. This really started with the VIA Apollo 133A launch, which at the time made it the only chipset supporting the 133 MHz Pentium III.
This trend continues to this day, and no where is this more apparent than with the current crop of Pentium 4 DDR motherboards. Both the SiS 645DX and VIA P4X266A sported 533 MHz bus support well before Intel introduced even the i850E. The 645DX and the new P4X333 also beat Intel to the DDR333 punch and garnered a lot of press by doing so. Now that SiS has jumped into the party alongside VIA, Intel has two companies running on the cutting edge of Pentium 4 platform development.
Granted, the Intel platform target market isn't usually looking to ride the bleeding edge of technology, but rather cater to the corporate or home buyer looking for the safety of the Intel brand name. So following some of the more risk tolerant companies, and learning from both the successes and mistakes made, Intel usually produces some very stable and highly compatible motherboards. Still, the march of technology must go on, and Intel has decided that the time is right to release a few updated chipsets.
Today is actually the release of three new chipsets from Intel, the i845E, i845GL and i845G. These are a bit different in that the i845E takes their mainstream DDR platform to the 533 MHz front-side bus, while the i845GL uses the old 400 MHZ FSB but adds integrated video to the mix. The i845G is kind of a mixture of the two, and features support for both 533 MHz Pentium 4 processors, as well including integrated 3D video.
Whether Intel has caught their competitors will be the main point of this review, as well as taking a close look at the 3D video of the i845G. We don't think the NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600 is looking over its shoulder, but by the same token, a viable integrated video chip could be quite useful to a great many buyers. These include multimedia systems for those who play the odd game, low-cost network and corporate systems, or even a second or third home PC. Whether Intel has got enough speed to satisfy even the low-resolution gaming crowd is still open game, as is the overall performance of the i845G platform when paired with dedicated AGP video.