"Crazyace" Bouthiller on September 11, 2002
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With the release of the ďNorthwoodĒ core
Pentium 4, Intelís flagship chip gained more on-chip L2
cache, which is one of the contributing factors for improved
performance over its predecessor. As clock speeds increased,
memory bandwidth became more of a bottleneck than ever
before. Recognizing this along with a savvy hunger of faster
performance, Intel announced a faster memory bus for the
Pentium 4. Previous Northwoodís ran on a 100MHz (DDR quad
pumped = 400MHz) front side bus. With Intelís increase, the
front side bus of newer Northwood chips will now run at
133MHz (DDR quad pumped = 533MHz).
Intelís switch to a DDR support platform
(i845D) increased the Pentium 4ís popularity due to the
cheaper costs associated with memory and performance was
almost on par with RAMBUS. While many motherboard
manufactures offer i845D boards with bus settings higher
than 100MHz, the chipset did not officially support it.
Intelís release of the updated chipset followed the bus
speed increase, which is dubbed the i845E.
The i845E chipset is virtually the same
as the previous version with the exception of support for
Intelís new 533MHz front side bus, and USB 2.0. On a side
note, Intel released the i845G at the same time, which is
the same chipset with on-board graphics.
Getting to our business; about five
I reviewed the FIC VC15 which is equipped with Intelís
i845D chipset. I didnít expect performance to differ
radically between the VC15 and the new VC19, but there are a
few new additions to the board that make it well worth a
look. With that said, letís take a closer look at the VC19.
After reviewing so many motherboards
over the years, the first thing I do is give the board a
real good look. I look for the obvious things, like
placement of certain connectors, chipset cooling, labeling,
and overall quality of the product. For the most part, FIC
makes a good solid product, but usually lacks the little
extras that stick out; opting for more of a no-frills
approach (the boards are usually very reasonably priced).
With this particular board, I did notice
a few things that I really liked. The first thing is the
CMOS battery holder. I have never seen one like this, and
now that I have, I want them all to be similar. Changing the
CMOS battery on this board is the easiest Iíve ever seen. As
you can see from the picture, the chip sits vertically, and
is removed by simply pushing back the retaining clip. Nice
stuff. Something else I noticed was the AGP locking
mechanism. It slides freely and feels very slick, and is
real easy to use. These may be little things, but to me
these show that the manufacturer is going for the extra mile
in order to make a good product even better.
Some of the features on the VC19 are
optional, so all of them donít have the exact same setup.
There is also a RAID equipped model dubbed the VC19 Advance
(which is the model I received). Some other optional
features include on-board LAN and a 5.1 channel audio
Installation was a breeze, while the
manual offers a good step-by-step procedure. There are only
a couple of jumpers on the board, which I left in the
default positions. Windows XP installed without a hitch, as
expected. FIC did include a driver disk, but Windows XP
found all my hardware without even using the disc, which is
definitely a time saver for computer system builders.