Chaintech A865PE - Page 2

..:: A865PE Packaging ::..

Since the A865PE falls under the Apogee product line, we entered the review with mediocre expectations as to what we would find in the product package. Another factor that we took into account was that Chaintech will soon be shifting towards less accessories in the future with the Zenith Value Edition products, so what we see here will give us an idea as to what the future could hold. When we first opened the package up, we generally found what we were looking for, although there are a few areas where we felt a small item or two could’ve been added in.

To start things off, we have the various documentation selections for the A865PE. Chaintech does not offer some of the items that we have seen in the past from other budget end motherboards, such as a fold-out style installation guide, or a layout diagram sticker which we have a liking towards. The quality and detail seen in the user manual on is excellent. Chaintech has made a solid effort to supply the end user with an easily readable, well organized, and detailed product guide with the A865PE’s manual. The manual is broken up into various chapters, with each chapter then being subdivided into different languages. The thoroughness of Chaintech in covering the BIOS was a strong area for the manual, as well other similar aspects of the A865PE such as the various headers and jumpers.

As far as hardware related inclusions go, we found the A865PE to supply all of the necessary requirements, but we found one or two little things we would’ve liked to see added in. Chaintech has chosen to include two Chaintech branded, black ATA/133/100/66 IDE cables, as well as a branded, black floppy cable. The A865PE also comes along with a single, light blue SATA power cable, and a single SATA data cable. I would’ve preferred to see an additional SATA data and power cable included to give the end user the capability to use both SATA channels. Granted, cables more often than not ship with retail hard drives, but for those users who purchase OEM components, it would be a nice inclusion. Lastly, Chaintech includes a CMR expansion card to allow for advanced support of audio functions that are provided by the C-Media CMI 9739A chip. This CMR device allows for support of S/PDIF input, a MIDI port, Rear and LFE audio channels, among many other simpler features such as CD audio connections.

As far as the included software and driver CD’s go, Chaintech includes their Value Pack 2003 software suite on one disc, while the other houses the core drivers and documentation for the A865PE, and several other motherboards. Driver and software installation was quick and easy as well it should be. When the driver disc is initial inserted into the computer, it will determine the motherboard being used and what options are enabled, and will then offer an extended list of drivers to install for full feature support. We were unable to spend much time with the Apogee overclocking utility, but as you’ll see in a matter of minutes, if you know how to overclocking via the BIOS, you won’t be disappointed.

Overall, the A865PE’s package has several strong points, along with a weak point or two. From a hardware inclusion standpoint, we were a bit disappointed at the lack of a minor item such as the second SATA data / power cable set. Chaintech offers some gorgeous custom cabling for the A865PE, and it would be even better if they would provide yet another SATA cable for those users with multiple drives. This would only add to the theme of the motherboard, and to the system as a whole. The documentation that Chaintech has provided is superb. All of the various inclusions that they have chosen to provide are detailed in a well rounded look, especially with the BIOS options and layout of the A865PE. Given that this is the end of the road for the Apogee line and that the Zenith Value Edition products will feature less included options, only time will tell what Chaintech will decide to remove to cut costs.