845 Scorecard

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On May 20th, Intel is supposed to formally introduce some new PIV DDR chipsets, children of the current 845D chipset: the 845E, the 845G, and the 845GL.

They all share the “official” ability to run a 133Mhz FSB.

How are they different? Which one do you want?

The 845E is the Intel chipset without any integrated video.

The 845G is the Intel chipset with integrated video that also gives you an AGP slot.

The 845GL is the Intel chipset with integrated video that does not give you an AGP slot.

If you look here, you can click on the various chipsets and find out what motherboards using these chipsets will be coming out from the various mobo companies. If you plan to buy, like, now, look at the pictures and the product names really closely.

Normally speaking, most members of this audience would be interested in 845E boards. Normally, they provide their own video card, because separate video cards are better performers than integrated video solutions. They can’t do that with an 845GL, and won’t pay extra for the integrated video found in the 845G because they’ll never use it.

However, very preliminary reports indicate that the 845G actually performs better with a separate video card than the 845E. Not a ton better, overall, the improvement is likely to be <5%, but in all likelihood, we're only talking about a $10-15 difference between the two.

Despite the May 20 date, there are already 845E and 845G boards on Pricewatch. MSI and Abit appear to have jumped the gun.

MSI has developed a habit of being first out of the gate, and unfortunately, more often than not, they’ve come out half-baked. Abit, on the other hand, has seemed to want to be the last company to come out with a mobo the last year or so, so this is a sudden change for them.

In either case, though, it will take much anal retentiveness to figure out which is the one you really want to buy. Let’s take Abit, for instance.

They make BD7 and BD7-RAID boards. Those are old 845D boards. The 845E boards are the BD7II and BD7II-RAID boards.

Abit is also going to have two 845G boards. The BG7 board is a regular ATX board. The BG7M is a micro-ATX board with just three PCI slots. Nor does it help that the handful of places listing the two boards have them for exactly the same price.

There are going to be a lot of microATX 845G boards out there, and enough of them will have names very close to those of their big brothers.

MSI will have a 6580-020 and a 6580-010 board (and note that the one place having them for “sale” won’t actually ship until May 23). What’s the difference? One has RAID, the other doesn’t. You might assume the RAID board is the 020? Wrong.

Nor does it help that these boards don’t officially exist yet on the company’s respective websites.

It would behoove most people to wait a bit until at least the NDAs come off and we see how well these boards do in general and how big the 845G/845E difference is overall.

But if you want to be a pioneer, aim very, very carefully before shooting your wallet, or you’ll end up shooting yourself in the foot.

Ed

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