Intel i815 / i815E Motherboard Roundup - August 2000by Mike Andrawes on August 3, 2000 5:25 AM EST
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There isn't a doubt about it that if Intel had released the i815(E) alongside their first 133MHz FSB Coppermines last November there would be quite a few more Pentium III users today than there are. For most users, if they wanted 133MHz FSB support for their Pentium III they would have to go for the VIA Apollo Pro 133A chipset (or the i810E with its crippled integrated video). This demand for a 133MHz FSB Pentium III chipset and only one real supplier of a viable solution placed VIA in the perfect position to become a major supplier of desktop PC chipsets.
At the same time, motherboard manufacturers received quite a bit of pressure from Intel to promote their Intel based motherboard designs which at the time were pretty much limited to BX, i820 and i810E solutions. Without official 133MHz FSB support for the BX chipset, most motherboard manufacturers were forced to use VIA's Apollo Pro 133A chipset as the core for their flagship products which obviously didn't make Intel happy.
From the point of the view of the motherboard manufacturers, the OEMs they served and ultimately, the consumers they made products for, they had no option since they couldn't possibly force RDRAM down the throats of every individual and there was no way anyone but an entry level user was going to be using an i810E motherboard.
This put the manufacturers between a rock and a hard place, the very company they had depended on for countless years wasn't able to come through with a chipset that they could sell on a motherboard; until the arrival of the 815.
Last year's Fall Comdex featured quite a few prominently displayed i820 and i840 based motherboard solutions, but 7 months later on the other side of the world at this year's Computex we had to look long and hard to find a board based on the newly announced i820E chipset. What did dominate the show were boards based on Intel's 815 chipset, and the feeling shared by all of the motherboard manufacturers present at the show was that they were counting on the 815 to do well otherwise they would find themselves in an even worse position.
Luckily things seem to be looking up for the i815 chipset, while it's not exactly the perfect 133MHz FSB solution, mainly because of its expensive pricetag, it's better than anything else Intel has had to offer in the past few months.
Before we get into the boards in our roundup, let's do a brief recap of the i815. For full details, read our Intel i815 Chipset Review.