DFI LAN Party PRO875B - Page 2

..:: DFI LANParty PRO875B Product Package ::..

Much as we mentioned with DFI never being known in the enthusiast market as a viable option, DFI has also never been known to offer the most extensive product packages in comparison to several other manufacturers. Some of DFI’s competition also yields some included products in order to keep costs down for the budget consumer, and for the OEM’s, but when the LANParty came onto the scene, this all ended. The LANParty series of motherboard come packed with a nice amount of features, such as IDE RAID 0, 1, 0+1, and the RAID “1.5” option, 20-bit six channel audio, SATA RAID, USB 2.0, and more. In order to power such features, and give the end user the capability to utilize all of said features, DFI had to address their product packages in order to accommodate for these new capabilities. In some areas, the DFI’s packages have made great strides to becoming the most unique in the market, however, in other areas they have fallen flat.

As far as external expansion brackets go the DFI LANParty PRO875B pales in comparison to several of the other i875P motherboards that have entered our hands. The only included expansion bracket that has been included by DFI allows for support the Game / MIDI port that had to be removed from the rear I/O panel to allow for the other primarily audio connections. This move by DFI does make perfect sense as the bulk of the connections that would be provided via expansion bracket are already provided on the I/O panel of the PRO875B. Ordinarily, we would see support for additional audio channels, and digital audio connections provided via an expansion bracket, but DFI has managed to integrate these connections into the rear I/O panel instead. When it comes to additional USB 2.0 support, we’ll need to address one of the more unique features of the LANParty PRO875B’s package, the FrontX adapter.

DFI has included a rather unique feature in their LANParty series of product packages, that being a FrontX kit. The kit that was included with our LANParty PRO875B allowed for an additional two USB 2.0 ports, microphone and headphone audio connectors, and a four-LED setup for use with system diagnostics upon startup. This kit was a nice inclusion and does offer some variety to the LANParty PRO875B’s package. My only criticism of this kit is that it seems out of place with the theme of the motherboard. Perhaps DFI could include a more custom tailored version of the FrontX kit that matches the theme of the motherboard. Most modding fans despise the beige color, so why not go with the theme of the motherboard and make it black, perhaps with multi-colored LED’s. I digress. The other unique feature that is included in the package does rightly so follow the theme of the product, that being the PC Transpo. This will surely come in handy for those LAN party fans out there looking to give their backs a break.

Additional items that are featured within the LANParty PRO875B’s packaging are two red SATA cables for use with SATA hard disk drive devices, along with a single power connector which features a single Molex connection and two SATA power connectors. We also find the I/O bracket to allow for the various custom fittings of the LANParty PRO875B, a small packet of thermal paste, and of course the various rounded IDE and floppy ribbon cables. To complete the overall look of the product, the material on the rounded cables also glows under UV light. Lastly, we see that DFI has also included a large “LANPARTY” sticker, some spare jumpers, and of course the various driver disks, and the most disappointing aspect of the package, the manuals.

Now, you’re probably wondering why I feel that the manuals are the most disappointing aspect of the product package right? Well, as many of you may know, we here at MBR feel that a product that lacks adequate documentation is second rate. Why would you give users the capability to use several features, and then cut costs on the documentation? DFI has really dropped the ball when it comes to the manuals that are included for the LANParty PRO875B. This isn’t to say that everything is bad, I found the installation guide that was included to be quite well written, easily understood, and supported by many graphics that will aid a first time user with the setup and installation of their new motherboard. The “Features” manual which covers such topics as the FrontX unit, the motherboard’s RAID setup instructions, and some of the included software is at best decent, and only in certain portions. The RAID setup portion is probably the best, rightfully so, although I’ve seen far better and more detailed manuals come through my hands. The user manual does a good job of covering the layout of the motherboard, but when it comes to the BIOS portion, it is pathetic.

This may seem harsh, but even though the product is geared towards enthusiasts, DFI has seemingly ignored the fact that some first time users who may question what certain settings do within the BIOS will be purchasing this motherboard. There is one page, yes that’s right, one single page covering the BIOS, and even then it only explains how to use the CMOS Reloaded option. Let us not forget, there are zero pages on driver installation and hardware configuration. If you’re a first timer and need such information, I can tell you right now, either learn the needed information before you purchase this board, or take your money elsewhere.

..:: DFI LANParty PRO875B Software Suite ::..

The CD that is included in the LANParty PRO875B’s package houses all of the necessary drivers for hardware support and of course the various software programs. As far as the software suite goes, the LANParty PRO875B comes with a pretty nice suite overall. DFI has included McAfee Online as the virus scan utility, and has also included other software such as RadarSync and Winflash which when combined allow for upgrading the system BIOS via the Internet and a Windows interface. I feel that if DFI wants to become more competitive in the enthusiast arena, they need to develop some sort of overclocking software to include with their high-end motherboards such as the LANParty series. Nearly all of the Tier 1 and 2 manufacturers who are enthusiast oriented have developed overclocking software to include, and this is just another little idea that can help the consumer decide between board A and board B. The software included will do a good job of aiding the end user, and keeping their motherboard up-to-date and safe from those dreaded worms and other malicious software.