Intel D845EBT: Serious Competition
BIOS Version: 86A.0004.P03
In the meantime, Intel has packed some muscle on its motherboards. The products put out by the chip manufacturer may have always been very dependable, but they were often slow and insufficiently configurable. The D845EBT has put an end to that - it will satisfy most users.
For example, you can finally set memory timing manually in BIOS - a feature we had previously sought in vain. That said, the BIOS remains pretty conservative; in practice, the smaller number of settings options is generally not a disadvantage. The D845EBT is also a powerful performer, mixing it up among the top boards in this round-up.
The virtual lack of jumpers on the mobo makes it very easy to use. Two DIMM sockets can each take a DDR module of up to 1 GB apiece. Five PCI slots and a CNR slot are integrated to allow some expansions. The Promise RAID controller is a mini-premiere. The PDC20267 supplies two additional IDE channels with UltraATA/100. It would have also been possible to use the PDC20276 (ATA/133) - it remains to be seen why it wasn't integrated.
This board also possesses a 100 Mbit network controller, also from Intel. The 82562ET adds onto the network interface in the chipset, making it compatible with both 10 and 100 Mbit/s standards. As if that weren't enough, Intel also throws in a high-quality sound system with surround sound and a digital coaxial output port. Last, but not least, a FireWire controller rounds off the long list of features.
We found the BIOS update function under Windows to be very useful. All you do is download and run the latest release from the Intel website. The update takes a few seconds and is executed only after the program has made sure that the software matches the board. Another restart, and your update is finished - now that's easy!
While the board doesn't provide any way to change the FSB speed or the CPU voltage, its features are rather impressive. If it continues launching products of this ilk, Intel will have more successes to chalk up in the future.