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When Intel released the 845 chipset in the fall of 2001, it was hardly taken seriously by most enthusiasts, and for good reason. Sporting only PC133 support, the 845 was simply unable to feed the bandwidth that was necessary to squeeze out optimal performance from the Pentium 4's 400MHz FSB. Despite the lack of enthusiasm for the 845 in the DIY market at the time, it served its role adequately for the market it was targeting, which were office PC's and business machines in general.

Then in early January 2002, Intel officially announced the 845D chipset, sporting DDR200 and DDR266 support. The 845D was easily able to outperform its older PC133-only 845 cousin in just about every application available. Finally, in May of this year, Intel announced the 845E, among a slew of other chipsets. The 845E is essentially identical to the 845D save two important features: 1) the addition of 533MHz FSB support and 2) native USB 2.0 support through a new South Bridge (ICH4). You can refer to our May coverage if you would like a more in-depth look at the 845E chipset.

Some have found it odd that the new ICH4 South Bridge did not add support for ATA133. However, ATA133 in general hasn't been wholeheartedly adopted by many companies at this point, Intel being one of those companies. In addition, Intel has clearly been backing Serial ATA for quite some time now (you can read two of Intel's Serial ATA PDF's here and here. In fact, Intel and Seagate just recently reaffirmed their commitment to Serial ATA at the PC Expo in New York City last June. Seeing as how Intel is committed to SATA, it isn't surprising they skipped ATA133 support for the ICH4.

But even though 845E motherboards weren't as widely available in May as 845D motherboards were back in January, there are now plenty of 845E motherboards to choose from. Today we will be testing 11 different 845E boards. In addition, we will be performing our usual round of stress tests, but it is important to remember we have only been able to run these stress tests for a short period of time. We can only provide our stress tests results as a broad indicator of a motherboard's stability and reliability.

The Candidates

Here are the eleven 845E boards we will be testing and stressing here today:

1. ABIT BD7II-RAID
2. ABIT IT7
3. AOpen AX4B Pro-533
4. ASUS P4B533-E
5. Chaintech 9EJL
6. ECS L4IBAE
7. Epox 4BEAR
8. Gigabyte 8IEXP
9. MSI 845E Max2
10. Tyan S2099ANR
11. Tyan S2099GNNR

Now let's see what these boards are made of….

ABIT BD7II-RAID

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