The second coming
Since our first roundup we published on Intel's i845 chipset, there hasn't been much excitement on the chipset front for the Pentium 4 processor. While the i845 chipset was supposed to bring the same level of performance and acceptance that we all experienced with the 440BX chipset, this wasn't going to be the case.
Initially, the i845 chipset launched with a fizzle due to the fact that it used SDR RAM instead of speedier DDR. If you remember our initial article however, you'll see that the i845 chipset has the internal horsepower to handle DDR's higher bandwidth. After boards hit the streets, it was clear that i845 wasn't going to be the chipset that was going to highlight the Pentium 4's capabilities.
Today however, we're taking a look at seven new boards that use Intel's new i845-E chipset, formally known as Brookdale. The big difference with i845E is its new south bridge. Being almost two years since Intel introduced a new south bridge to the masses, i845-E's ICH4 south bridge is certainly a welcomed change.
The first major feature that's new is support for USB 2.0. You'll now have access to high-speed 480mbps USB rather than the slower 12mbps connection. If you were hoping for changes in the ATA department however, this won't happen until sometime early next year when Serial ATA will begin to take off. In the meantime however, the i845-E chipset offers standard ATA-100 for your storage needs.
This time around, Intel has outfitted DDR RAM with the i845 and thus we have the boards we're looking at today. We'll see how much of an improvement going with DDR has made and how the boards differentiate themselves. Performance and features are what we're looking for, and if they come at a nice price, then bonus!
Before we continue, certain boards that were supposed to be included in this roundup didn't make it to us early enough. We'll be updating this article soon but for now we have seven boards for you to gorge upon.