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Big Business: 18 P4 boards In Price / Performance Face-Off

Albatron PM845GL1-533

Board Revision: 1.0

BIOS version: 1.06 (June 10, 2003)

In many ways, the PM845GL1 is an exception to the rule. For one, it is a MicroATX board, and for another thing it is the only board in this comparative test that works with Intel's 845GL chipset. This would only support 400 MHz, as it is meant as a low-cost product for the Celeron. However, Albatron allows the chipset to be overclocked to 533 MHz and offers the board like that. However, there seem to be problems with this, because in spite of the conservative memory timing, we saw crashes during all DirectX-9 benchmarks.

The remaining benchmarks, on the other hand, went smoothly and serve as an example of how far behind an integrated graphics unit lags behind a modern graphics card like the GeForce FX 5600 used in the test. However, the results should not be discouraging, because for an integrated graphics solution, the performance is absolutely illuminating.

For the sake of comparison, we would have used the GeForce FX on the Albatron board too, but we found that the slot that looked like it was for AGP was only meant for ADD (AGP Digital Display) expansion cards. Upgrading a graphics card thus is not possible on this board, so users with 3D graphics needs should try and find another board.

The network controller used works well: instead of a codec a PCI controller from networking specialists 3COM (910) is used. The design of the board is also good, even though Albatron also placed the network controller way down at the bottom.

The package includes PC-cillin 2002 (antivirus) and Adobe Acrobat Reader. The USB adapter, which provides two additional ports, is a welcome addition. If not for the crashes caused by the Direct-X-9 software, this board would offer lots of features, such as a wake-on-timer, overclocking, or booting from USB). The board also offered the least-expensive integrated-graphics feature.

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