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Exclusive Peek : MSI 845G Max-L motherboard
By CPU-zilla
Category : Mainboard
Published by Jimmy Tang on Tuesday, 21st May, 2002

Integrated Graphics Hits Pentium 4

Up till today, we have two versions of the Intel 845 chipset, one supporting mainstream PC133 SDRAM and another supporting DDR266 DDR memory which gave us better performance at an attractive price point. With the 845, Intel was proud to make itself known as the only chipset vendor that supports various memory technologies, from RAMBUS (on the 850) to PC133 and DDR (on the 845).

Now that Intel is supporting all these memory standards, what else is missing? The answer is obvious, integrated graphics. On the AMD Athlon platform, we have VIA, SiS and NVIDIA producing chipsets with fairly good integrated graphics. The nForce chipset from NVIDIA was pretty good as it delivered GeForce2 MX graphics performance and quality. However, we should keep in mind that integrated graphics are normally targeted at the corporate user where graphics performance is usually of lower importance. However, the ability to handle 3D graphics is almost always an added bonus. In addition, there have been developments in web plug-ins that displays 3D graphics on the web and applications like these may drive the need for better graphics performance.

The move to integrate graphics into the Intel 845 chipset is expected and we guess that it is mainly driven by the mobile market. Since the launch of the Pentium 4-M processor, notebook manufacturers had only the 845MP chipset which supports external graphics. Integrated graphics makes more sense and it will definitely drive the price lower for mobile laptops. On the desktop side of the story, integrated graphics will definitely help bring pricing lower for corporate desktops. Small form factor PCs to highly integrated boxes will be possible. Before the 845G, system integrators relied on the SiS 650 solution for integrated graphics. Although the SiS solution was pretty good, not many are daring to place their bet on SiS.

So, what have we here today? We were pleasantly surprised when the 845G Max arrived at our lab and we are pretty sure that this would interest you. So we plugged in our latest 2.4GHz Pentium 4 processor (we have the 400MHz version right now) and performed some tests. We expect the performance of the chipset to be similar with the 845D, but what is more interesting is whether Intel has overhauled its integrated graphics performance in the 845G. Rumors told us that it had the ability to challenge NVIDIA's GeForce2 MX. So, in this exclusive peek, we'll look at the graphics performance of the board only. We'll supplement with a full review later.

For those interested, here's the full technical specifications of the motherboard.

MSI 845G Max-L Technical Specifications
  • Socket 478 for IntelĀ® Pentium 4 processors
  • IntelĀ® Pentium 4 Processors 1.4GHz-2.4GHz or higher
  • Intel 845G chipset (788 FC-BGA)
    • AGP 4x slot (1.5V only)
    • Integrated graphics controller
    • Supports 100/133MHz FSB
    • Supports 400/533MHz Intel NetBurst micro-architecture bus
  • Intel ICH4 chipset (412 BGA)
    • AC'97 2.2 interface
    • Six USB 2.0/1.1 ports
    • 2 channel Ultra ATA/100 bus master IDE controller
    • SMBus 2.0 support
    • Integrated Ethernet MAC
Cache memory
  • CPU Built-in 256KB (Willamette) or 512KB (Northwood) L2 cache
System memory
  • 3 x 184-pin DDR SDRAM DIMM
  • Supports 64 to 512Mb technologies for x8 and x16 devices
  • Supports 2.5V DDR SDRAM
  • 2 x Bus Master UDMA-33/66/100 IDE ports (up to 4 devices)
  • Support for PIO, UDMA-33, UDMA-66, UDMA-100 IDE
I/O Interface
  • 1x VGA port
  • 1x floppy port (360KB - 2.88MB)
  • 2x serial ports (COM B pin header on-board)
  • 1x parallel port (SPP/EPP/ECP)
  • PS/2 Keyboard
  • PS/2 Mouse
  • 6x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (2x rear and 4x front)
  • Audio ports for on-board sound (Line-Out, Line-In, Mic)
  • Game port
Expansion slots
  • 6x 32-bit PCI slots, PCI 2.2 compliant (support 3.3v / 5v interface)
  • 1x CNR (Communication and Networking riser) slot
  • 1x AGP 4x slot (1.5V only)
Power Management
  • Supports ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) and APM
  • Supports Desktop Management Interface (DMI)
Form Factor
  • ATX Form Factor : 30.5cm x 21.5cm
  • Fits into regular ATX case
  • 2 Mbit (256KB) Flash EEPROM
  • Award Flash BIOS with PnP, ACPI and DMI support
  • Multi-boot on ZIP, ATAPI CD-ROM, SCSI, IDE #1, #2, #3, #4

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