Testing The E-Class: 9 Pentium 4 Motherboards With The 845E Chipset

MSI 845E Max2-BLR: RAID Overclocking And Bluetooth

Board Revision: 1BIOS Version: 5.2 (June 2002)

With its red lacquer, the 845 board from MSI is a world apart from the other boards. Of course, color does not make for better performance, especially since all the manufacturers have a thorough command of the Intel chipset and generally know how to best unleash it, too.

MSI is one of two manufacturers who actively cool the 845E with a fan. This is neither necessary nor beneficial, since fans generally don't do anything but add to a PC's noise level. The IDE-RAID controller from Promise (PDC20276) is a much better choice: it supports all IDE protocols right up to UltraATA/133. The board also has a network controller from Intel, which is designed to handle transfer rates of 10 and 100 Mbit/s.

The rest of the hardware includes a CNR slot, six PCI slots, an AGP 4x slot with a card lock, three DIMM sockets for up to 2 GB DDR266-SDRAM and two free fan connectors.

MSI offers a slew of overclocking options, including the modification of the FSB and of the voltage for the CPU core, RAM and the chipset. We found the board to be a suitable performer that met all our stability expectations.

MSI ships the mobo with all the necessary cables, a driver CD, a floppy disk with the RAID drivers, a voluminous manual in English and two USB adapter cables that enable you to use all six ports.

This motherboard comes with a Bluetooth solution that follows the MSI tradition of PC-to-PC - which stands for a direct connection between two computers. A little add-on board (see picture) includes a Bluetooth transceiver, while MSI also includes a Bluetooth USB module that can be plugged into an USB port of any Windows machine in order to exchange data. Basically, you should be able to connect to any Bluetooth device available, such as mobile phones or PDAs.