"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise."

This line as spoken in F. Scott Fitzgerald's pithy and self-reflecting essay, "The Crack-Up", should remind us in these times of increasing polarization to realize while heatedly debating other's opposing viewpoints that one should maintain dignity and respect for that viewpoint and the person expressing it.

Those of us who follow the computer industry fully realize the effects of polarization as we read, view, discuss, and openly debate, in sometimes-heated fashion, the merits of each manufacturer's products. This typically leads into discussions regarding Intel versus AMD, NVIDIA versus ATI, Linux versus Windows, Asus versus Gigabyte, PC versus Mac, and so forth until at times our opinions are so one-sided that we fail to recognize the merits of the other product or more importantly, the ability to respect another's opinion.

I have to be honest with you in regards to this article and the products that we are reviewing today. As a devoted computer enthusiast, I fully admit the thought of reviewing the boards included in this article did not excite me, not because of the manufacturers involved, but rather due to the Intel 945 chipset. It has certainly sold in the hundreds of thousands from the likes of Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and others, but unless someone was standing on the street corner praising the virtues of this chipset would you really care about it.

I mean, here we have a chipset that is an excellent follow up to the Intel 915, offers the latest technology, provides very good performance for the dollar, is available in a myriad of configurations, and simply does what it is asked to do without question or issue, but is it enough to change an opinion? It certainly changed our opinion, but probably not for the reasons that one might believe.

Today, we are reviewing the Epox 5LDA+GLI, Foxconn 945P7AA-8EKRS2, and Asus P5LD2 Deluxe based on the Intel 945P chipset. All three manufacturers took a slightly different approach to utilizing this chipset with, at times, similar results.

The chart above lists the standard feature set available to manufacturers using the Intel 82945P chipset. Asus chose to augment this feature set with additional SATA II capabilities via the Silicon Image 3132 chipset, additional IDE capabilities via the ITE 8211F chipset, and Firewire 1394a support via the TI TSB43AB22 chipset. Foxconn chose to augment this feature set with additional IDE capabilities via the ITE 8211F chipset, an additional Gigabit LAN port via the Broadcom 8CM5788KF8 PCI chipset, and Firewire 1394a support via the TI TSB43AB22 chipset. Epox took a minimalist approach and augmented this feature set with Firewire 1394a support from VIA with the VT6307 chipset.

One of the main design features that Asus and Epox engineered into their boards is an additional physical PCI Express x16 slot that runs in PCI Express x4 mode, which enables Intel's Graphic Link Interface (GLI). The first PCI Express x16 slot will continue to operate in full x16 mode while the second PCI Express x16 slot operates in full x4 mode. This allows two PCI Express video cards to be installed allowing quad display capability, and based upon driver support, theoretical performance near the NVIDIA x8SLI design. This additional PCI Express x4 slot runs off the 82081GR (ICH7R) chipset and reduces the available amount of PCI Express x1 slots. Asus took this configuration one step further and offers a BIOS switch which allows the PCI Express x4 slot to run in either x4 or x1 mode. If the user chooses x4 mode, then the single PCI Express x1 slot is disabled.

Let's see what these boards are capable of and if one's opinion can be changed.

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  • Houdani - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    The other reviewers here at Anandtech offer their own style, thereby providing the "mix it up" factor. I personally don't think you need to adjust your style, as I happen to like the cultural infusion supplied by your literary quotes. Reply
  • Furen - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    Fair enough, I was just giving my personal opinion on the matter. Reply
  • bersl2 - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    What's wrong with being exposed to what the author believes to be wisdom? Surely you don't read these articles simply for the technical specifications; otherwise, you would read the spec sheet. Why, then, do you object to the author trying to relate an idea to you? Reply
  • Furen - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    I read the articles for their technical merits. Spec sheets do not show how the different components interact with one another nor can they show performance, stability, etc; and, most importantly of all, they're made by the manufacturer, who is hardly to be considered an unbiased source. The problem with throwing a strong idea in front of the reader before giving him article is that this idea becomes the filter through which the rest of the article is viewed. This is, of course, very effective if you are trying to persuade the user to reach the same conclusions as you, but it skews the reader's ability to analize the purely technical merits of the products. Reply
  • mbhame - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    What makes you so sure Conroe is the last P4? ;)

    The Pentium 4 will never die!
    Long Live the Pentium 4!!!
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - link

    Conroe isn't a P4. It's the next generation architecture that Intel has not yet named - also referred to as the NGATIHNYN. :p Reply

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