The Pentium 4 motherboard market has many competitors, but realistically, it is dominated by Intel chipsets. Intel offers many different models, each with its own set of distinct performance and onboard features, and designed for a specific target market. This includes everything from the high-end Intel 875P speed demon, all the way down to the entry-level i848P model. In this roundup, we'll be taking a look at a selection of motherboards featuring the i875P, i865PE and i848P chipsets, and comparing them based on features, performance, overclocking and price.
There are certain standard features included with all the above chipsets, such a support for the 800 MHz front-side bus, Hyper-Threading technology and DDR400 memory, along with more basic features such as 6-channel AC'97 audio, AGP 8X, USB 2.0, and Serial ATA. But this only scratches the surface of each chipset's features, so here are some diagrams and commentary that will outline the differences in architecture and feature set.
The Intel 875P is the high-end jewel in the Intel chipset crown, and includes dual-channel DDR support, Communication Streaming Architecture w/ Gigabit LAN, along with the top-end PAT feature. PAT stands for Performance Acceleration Technology, and using dual-channel DDR400, it allows for higher speed timings and increased performance. The presence of PAT support is where the i875P separates from the i865PE, and Intel's high-end chipset is usually paired with the ICH5R Southbridge, which incorporates Serial ATA RAID.
The i865PE is the mid-range or mainstream performance option in the Intel lineup, and shares many of the same features of the i875P. This includes support for dual-channel DDR and Communication Streaming Architecture w/ Gigabit LAN, but the PAT feature is not inherent in the architecture. Like the i875P, there is the option of the ICH5R Southbridge, with its integrated Serial ATA RAID.
The i848P is Intel's latest entry-level chipset, and is similar to the i845PE with 800 MHz front-side bus support. It includes support for the standard features, but only includes a single-channel DDR controller, and the option of Communication Streaming Architecture w/ Gigabit LAN and the ICH5R Southbridge. This chipset is commonly found in low-cost platform designs, though some companies offer more fully-featured configurations at a very attractive price.
Our Intel-based motherboard roundup consists of i875P, i865PE and i848P products from AOpen, ASUS, DFI, MSI, and Soyo:
AOpen AX4C Max
ASUS P4P800S-E Deluxe
ASUS P4P800 Deluxe
ASUS P4C800 Deluxe
DFI LANPARTY PRO875
MSI 875P NEO-FIS2R
Soyo i865PE Dragon 2
Soyo i875P Dragon 2 (Platinum)
We'll start off with a full review of each board, covering off features, layout, installation, and BIOS options, and then move on to the system and game benchmarking, before finishing up with the final conclusion.
* In these reviews, we describe and list the motherboard features of the motherboards as reviewed, but keep in mind that some are optional components that may need to be confirmed before making any purchase.