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3D Spotlight : Hardware : Microstar 6337 i815E Pro motherboard review


Microstar 6337 i815E Pro review
Posted by Adam Klein on September 28, 2000
Company: MSI Computer     Product: Microstar 6337 i815E Pro motherboard

The Intel 440BX motherboard chipset has been very popular for about two years now. There are good reasons for this to happen. Letís start with the fact that the BX has proven to be very stable and perform strongly.

Not too long ago, Intel was set to replace the BX with a motherboard chipset that was said to perform better than the BX. The Camino, or 820 as it's better known. What distinguished this chip from the pack was the support for RDRAM (Rambus Dynamic Random Access Memory).

RDRAM, operating up to an effective 800MHz, was shown to actually perform even or worse than a system with a BX chipset and SDRAM. Even though it ran at 800MHz (400MHz double data rate), it still had higher latency with a 16-bit data width, while SDRAM had less latencies and a 64-bit data width.

Another very major factor was the price difference between RDRAM and SDRAM. At one time, RDRAM was priced near $450 for 128MB, and the best of the best 128MB of SDRAM could be bought for only $140.

As time passed, the 820 didn't catch on due to those reasons. Users wanted a better price per performance ratio. The BX was aging, but the performance and the price was right for just about any user. The only major factor that didn't make it so appealing was the lack of 133MHz front side bus support. Even though some users had no problems running their BX systems at this out of spec speed, some weren't so lucky.

This is where VIA comes into the picture. VIA offered a motherboard with SDRAM slots, AGP 4X, and official support for a true 133MHz bus. The VIA 133A has been out for months and in that time has been very popular despite the BX still being the performance leader. The board was so popular that Intel wasn't about to let their competition to rule in sales while the 820 were slow at making sales.

The 815, A.K.A. Solano, was Intel's answer. Much like the VIA 133A chipset, the 815 offers the same features, plus some other extras. These extras include integrated sound and integrated video all from a one-chip solution. To the performance user, this may not be what they want. Luckily the 815 also incorporate an AGP 4X slot, so putting in your favorite graphics board can be done. Also, the on-board sound can also be disabled, so that the use of any other soundboard can be done.

One of Microstar's first 815 boards is the 815E Pro 6337. The 6337 is based on the Solano 2 version of the 815. This version is denoted with an E. The 815E has everything that the 815 does, but also has a few extra features, such as UltraATA100 support.


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