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

The New E-class - Pentium 4 Motherboards With The Intel 845E Chipset And 133 MHz FSB

Up till now, AMD's Athlon XP has had no problems keeping up with the Intel Pentium 4, despite the latter's considerable lead in clock speed. But the times, they are a-changing. The new P4 models for 133 MHz FSB almost seem to have an afterburner, leaving AMD in the dust despite its Thoroughbred core and DDR333. It appears that Intel's fortunes are on the rise - the motherboards are mature, with features that beat last year's batch by far. Does that mean sunny times for us customers?

Yes - and no. To begin with, the new 845E and 845G chipsets have the advantage of being directly developed by Intel. The market leader's hardware has been very popular for years thanks to its good performance and extreme reliability. Even more important is Intel's consistency, which other manufacturers manage to imitate only sporadically.

The 845E seems to go along with this tradition in that the motherboards we tested present no grounds for griping about their stability and overall performance. Even more obscure manufacturers have made an effort to expand their array of features and accessories. By now, things such as piezo speakers (instead of PC speakers), sound and RAID controllers or overclocking options have become standard, which wasn't the case in earlier comparisons.

On the other hand, that added functionality has its price. A well-equipped motherboard with an 845E chipset will run at least $180.

Nine new motherboards had made it to our lab by the time we went to press. We subjected them to a thorough examination and have summed up our conclusions with extensive comparisons and sound buying recommendations.