IBM Think Center S50: The Ideal Corporate Small Form Factorby Wesley Fink on October 21, 2003 10:55 PM EST
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IBM Think Center S50: 8183 Motherboard
|Chipset||Intel 82865PE MCH (North Bridge)
Intel ICH5 (South Bridge)
|Bus Speeds||Not Adjustable|
|AGP/PCI Speeds||Not Adjustable|
|Core Voltages Supported||Not Adjustable|
|AGP Voltages Supported||Not Adjustable|
|DRAM Voltages Supported||Not Adjustable|
|Memory Slots||2 x 184-pin DDR DIMM Slots
|Expansion Slots||2 PCI Slot|
|Onboard Graphics||Intel 865G Extreme Graphics 2|
|Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394||Eight USB 2.0 supported through ICH5
|Onboard LAN||Intel PRO/100 (Pro/1000 Optional)|
|Onboard Audio||SoundMAX Cadenza (ADI1981B)|
|Onboard Serial ATA||2 SATA drives supported by Intel ICH5|
The Corporate Desktop is not where would you expect to find overclocking options, and there are none available on the Think Center S50. A few of the IBM decisions, though, need some explaining. While we suspect that IBM chose DDR333 for maximum stability in the S50, the Intel 865 chipset limits actual memory performance to DDR320. The real difference between DDR320 and DDR400 performance is not that great, so we understand IBM's decision. However, we do wish the BIOS had at least an AUTO function that would see and recognize DDR400 for those Corporate clients who chose to use it. When we installed 2 X 512mb of DDR400 for our tests, the system still set it up as DDR320 — though it did recognize and set the aggressive 2-2-2-5 SPD memory timings.
While IBM shipped our Evaluation unit with just one DIMM, we would strongly recommend purchasing the S50 with 2 DIMMs or a quick upgrade to 2 DIMMs. Sandra 2004 confirms that with 2 DIMMs, the S50 operates in Dual-Channel memory mode, which is faster than the Single-Channel mode used by a single DIMM. Dual-Channel memory is one of the defining features of the Intel 865/875 series, and eliminating that feature has a significant impact in performance — making the 865 no faster than the venerable 845 chipset. IBM also limited on-board memory to 2GB in 2 DIMM slots. This will not likely be a significant limitation with a Corporate desktop system.
In our recent Biostar SFF review, we were impressed that you could assemble, upgrade, and change memory without having to remove the drive cage from the case. The IBM extends this ease of use/ease of upgrading to an even higher plateau. You can add, remove, repair, and troubleshoot virtually anything in the Think Center S50 without even so much as a screwdriver.