Intel D845PEBT2 - Page 2

..:: Introduction ::..

Well, heading into this review I truly didn’t expect there to be a plethora of goodies added into the package of the D845PEBT2 as it is, of course, an Intel brand motherboard. It also falls at a price point of right around $125 USD give or take a few dollars, so there shouldn’t be all too many goodies included with the board as, most of the goodies are already implemented into the motherboard itself. The D845PEBT2 comes along with a package very similar to what we saw with the Abit BE7-RAID. Intel has chosen to include one ATA-66/100/133 ribbon cable, one short floppy ribbon cable, one red Serial ATA cable, one USB 2.0 expansion bracket with two USB ports, one rear I/O panel bracket to accommodate for the rear I/O connector placements, one floppy driver diskette for the Serial ATA RAID controller, and of course, the motherboard user manual and driver disc. One item of note has been seen in the past with the Gigabyte GA-8IEXP. Intel has included a rather large sticker that can be placed within a case that readily displays all of the important information about the motherboard layout. It covers all of the jumpers, headers, and other miscellaneous connectors on the motherboard. There is also a small sticker that does the same for the rear I/O panel. The D845PEBT2 features several different connectors so this comes as a welcome addition. These items are both something I would plan on seeing from an Intel brand motherboard package, and as expected they are included.

One thing I have come to love about other mainboard manufacturer manuals is that, for the most part, they take the time to really go over the different BIOS options, what they do, etc. Some will of course opt to only skim the surface or not even cover the BIOS settings at all. Intel is no different than these manufacturers, however this is expected. Only very recently has Intel begun to cater to the performance enthusiast by adding small incremental changes to their motherboard BIOS’ that allow for more control over memory timings and other options. Hence, I would not expect to see any information included in the manual covering these topics. Once again, my premonitions were correct as the manual does not cover the BIOS. I would much prefer to see it cover such items, although when you consider the box plainly states “This product is intended to be professionally installed” you should understand who it is geared towards, and why the BIOS options aren’t included in the manual. The manual does do an excellent job of covering how to first set up the system along with how to set up the Serial ATA controller or a RAID array with it.

The driver / software CD houses the drivers and software for the Intel D845PEBT2 motherboard, so if you’re looking to find a driver, this would be the place to do it. When you first insert the disc into your CD-ROM, the main window will pop up right to the install window. Here, you simply click which drivers to install and you’re good to go. Within the main window, you’ll also be able to install any of the software you wish to. The included software suite is fairly nice with the inclusion of SoundMax Cadenza, NTI CD-Maker, Macromedia Shockwave, Norton Internet Security, Intel Active Monitor (Hardware Monitor), Intel Application Accelerator, RealOne with DFX, and as stated previously, the software drivers for the onboard sound, SATA, LAN, etc. This is one of the larger software suites that we have seen on any motherboard reviewed in the past, certainly a nice feature for those looking to get the most on a budget.

All in all, I was very pleased overall with the included software and hardware extras for the D845PEBT2. As it is an Intel brand motherboard, I came across the exact items I expected would be included, although there were a few things I would like to see added / changed. First off, if Intel is truly starting to gear more towards the performance community with some of their motherboards, I feel it is vital that they include information about the system BIOS and it’s settings within the manual itself. Second, I would have preferred to see a second ATA-66/100/133 ribbon cable for those who cannot yet utilize Serial ATA hard drives, and have more than two available IDE devices. Granted, CD-ROM’s and such other devices quite often come along with IDE ribbon cables, but I still feel two should be included. The last main point about the D845PEBT2 package that I found needing improvement was the length of the floppy ribbon cable. Now, I can understand most of these boards are going to end up in small workstations or desktop type cases, but if this board is indeed geared towards performance oriented users, they’re likely to have larger cases which may indeed need a much longer floppy cable. Other than these three main points, the D845PEBT2 comes along with a very nice package, especially in the software arena.

..:: Feature Set ::..

The Intel D845PEBT2 motherboard comes along with several onboard chips that provide support for the features such as Serial ATA, LAN, etc. We have the Intel DA82562ET 10/100 Ethernet Controller, the SoundMax AD1980 Audio Codec, and the Silicon Image SATALINK Serial ATA RAID Controller. Other chips that we come across on the Intel D845PEBT2 are the Intel N82802AB8 Firmware Hub, Cypress CY283460C Clock Generator, and the SMSC LPC47M172-NR I/O Controller. Other features provided by the D845PEBT2 are provided via the i845PE chipset. Before we begin our traditional trip around the motherboard PCB, let’s take a closer look at the specifications for some of the more important chips listed above.