by July 9, 2003 0 comments



Intel introduced two feature rich motherboards based on two new chipsets, which could take them headway into the low-end workstation segment. The new chipsets are 865 (Springdale) and 875 (Canterwood) and the boards are D865GBF (with on-board graphics) and D875PBZ. They both have the dual channel memory architecture (DDR 400), where the memory controller splits the data and simultaneously writes it to memory modules on two separate memory channels. This way dual channel DDR 400 offers, theoretically, the same memory frequency as the FSB, (800 MHz). But for that you need two or more RAM modules and not a single module. A single module will work in single channel mode only. For example, when using 256 MB RAM, using two 128 MB modules, one for each channel will give benefits of dual channel. Putting in a single 256 MB module or putting two modules in a single channel won’t give any benefits. For more information on the 875 chipset read the last issue of PCQuest. We used motherboards based on the earlier 845 (D845PEBT2) and 850 (Intel D850EMV2) chipsets to compare against the new boards. Both older boards have 533 MHz FSB. The first supports DDR 333, while the latter supports PC 1066
RDRAM. 

Test Setup
We used a P4 3.0 GHz (800 MHz FSB) for the 865 and 875, P4 3.06 (533 MHz FSB) for the 845 and 850; 512 MB DDR400 for the 865 and 875, and the same RAM for the 845 but operating at 333 MHz; 512 MB PC 1066 RDRAM for the 850. The common hardware was an AGP 4x GeForce4 Ti 4600 display with 128 MB VRAM and a Samsung 7200 RPM HDD. The D865GBF was also tested with its on-board graphics. The 865 and 875 boards were tested with both single channel and dual channel configurations.

The Results 845 vs 850
The 850 with RDRAM gave much better performance than the 845 with DDR333. While the difference in CCW was not much, the graphics benchmarks showed a significant difference. This can be justified by the much higher memory bandwidth of RDRAM over DDR 333 as shown by SiSoft Sandra. 

S    
N   A   P   S   H  
O   T

Intel Motherboard D875PBZ
Prices : Rs 11,500 (three-year warranty)
Key specs : Performance king but slightly expensive, can fit in the workstation segment with on-board Serial ATA RAID 0 and ECC RAM.
Intel Motherboard D865GBF
Prices : Rs 7,500 with 3-year warranty
Key
specs
: good performance at low price, good on-board graphics
Contact : SG Systems
Tel : 26485234, 26485235
E-mail : sgsystems@mantraonline.com 

850 vs 865 and 875
In this battle, the fight is very interesting with RDRAM giving full competition to DDR based 865 and 875, when they are running in single channel memory configuration. But with the dual channel architecture, they left the 850 board far behind.

Motherboard Content
Creation Winstone 2001 Winstone Units
Quake
III Arena (640*480*16) fps
3DMark
2001 SE (640*480*16) 3D Marks
SiSoftware
Sandra- Memory Bandwidth  (MB/Sec)
Float
Buff
Int Buff
Intel
845PEBT2
98.3 333.8 15,990 2513 2511
Intel
850EMV2
101.7 367.7 17,088 3323 3317
Intel
865GBF
Single
Channel
100 375.6 17,601 2977 3006
Intel
865GBF
Dual
Channel
102.4 398.3 18,321 4589 4599
Intel
875PBZ
Single
Channel
100.5 382.8 17,941 3007 3009
Intel
875PBZ
Dual
Channel
102.8 413 18,832 4838 4814
Intel
865GBF**
Single
Channel
98.9 134.5 3,830 2831 2827
Intel
865GBF**
Dual
Channel
101.3 140.9 4,350 4496 4516
**
With onboard graphics

Single channel configuration: 865 and 875
The 850 was slightly better than the 865 and 875 in the CCW tests. It also has more memory bandwidth than the 865 and 875. But despite this the 865 and 875 beat the 850 in graphics benchmarks, possibly because of better motherboard architecture. Overall, in this test setup the difference in performance of the three boards is not very significant so we can say that all three are equally good in this arena.

Dual channel configuration for 865 and 875
Before running the tests we anticipated only a small performance improvement due to the dual channel configuration. However, the results showed that there was a major performance gain with this setup. The 875 showed a 5% and 8% improvement in 3DMark2001 SE and Quake III Arena respectively over itself when running in the single channel configuration. The improvement in CCW though was not very much, possibly because it is very tough to improve such high scores. The benefit of dual architecture is clearly visible by the SiSoft Sandra memory bandwidth test, which shows 60 % more memory bandwidth with the dual channel than with single channel. 865 also showed improvements in performance with the dual channel, though the difference is lower than of 875. Compared to 850, both boards won hands down. The 875 gave nearly 10-12 % improvement in graphics while the 865 was 7-8% higher. Again we didn’t see much of a difference in the
CCW benchmark. 

865 vs. 875
The 875 is the clear performance king here but the edge it has over the 865 is only 1-4 %, which is not very great. The 865 also has onboard Intel Extreme Graphics 2 that gave very good performance for on-board graphics, though not as good as the external graphics card.

Features
This was the performance analysis of the four boards, which showed wide variations. The boards also differ widely on their features and price. The 865 comes with onboard graphics and sound whereas the 875 doesn’t have either of these. Both have an AGP 8x slot and Gigabit Ethernet port, which are good for gaming and graphics and also for high- speed network workstations. The 875 and 865 also support the latest Serial ATA drives with the 875 also having support for SATA Raid-0 (striping). The 850 has onboard sound, AGP 4x slot and a Fast Ethernet port. The 850 and 875 also support error- correcting code (ECC) RAM, mainly used in servers and workstations. The 845 is the most feature rich with five channel sound and digital and optical S/PDIF output, FireWire ports apart from the standard USB ports, which are also on the other boards, AGP 4x slot and fast Ethernet. It also supports SATA drives with RAID 0 (striping for performance) and 1 (mirroring for reliability).

The Bottom Line Coming to the price, the D850EMV2 and D845PEBT2 were priced at Rs 9,100 and 8,400 respectively at the time we received them in November 2002. The D865GBF is for Rs 7,500 and the D875PBZ for Rs 11,500. Looking at the price, performance and features of the four boards, the D865GBF seems to be the best bet among all. The D875PBZ can be a good option for those who do not want to settle for anything less and want the best in performance. The 875 can also be used as a good graphics and gaming machine and as a low- end CAD/CAM workstation because of the SATA Raid 0 and ECC RAM support. 

Anoop Mangla

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