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Comparing Current 9xx-Series Chipsets to their Predecessors

Table 1 compares the major features of the 9xx-series chipsets with the 848, 865 and 875 chipset families. For more information about the 848P, see my article "New Pentium 4 Chipsets for the Business/Value User". For more information about the 865 and 875P chipsets, see my article "The Intel 865 Chipset Family".

Table 1 – 865/875/848 Chipsets Compared to the 9xx Chipsets

 

Chipsets

Feature

848P

865P

865PE

915P

865G

915G

875P

925X

DDR400 (PC3200) support

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Dual-channel DDR memory

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Dual-channel DDR2 memory

No

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

800MHz FSB support

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Integrated Graphics

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

AGP 8x video support

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

PCI-Express x16 video support

No

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Number of ATA/IDE ports

2

2

2

1

2

1

2

1

Serial ATA with optional RAID 0,1

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Serial ATA with optional RAID 0, 1, 0+1

No

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Number of Serial ATA ports

2

2

2

4

2

4

2

4

PCI-Express x1 support

No

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

USB 2.0 support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Audio Support

6-ch

6-ch

6-ch

7.1 HDA

6-ch

7.1 HDA

6-ch

7.1 HDA

Optional wireless networking

No

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes


Figure 1 compares the mainstream 915P chipset to the 865PE, the most advanced 865-series chipset.

Figure 1Figure 1 The 915P offers more Serial ATA ports, support for dual-channel DDR or DDR2 memory (sometimes on a single motherboard), and more SATA RAID and network options than the 865PE.

The only apparent shortcoming in the 9xx-series chipsets compared to their predecessors is the lack of Gigabit ethernet (GbE support). However, some third-party motherboard makers offer GbE support in certain models, and it's likely as time passes that Gigabit ethernet adapters using PCI-Express x1 slots will be introduced. Otherwise, the 9xx-series chipsets offer more advanced features than their predecessors in almost every way.

The Right 9xx-Series Chipset for You

If you want a system for mission-critical applications and want to be ready for the coming 64-bit Pentium 4 processors, go with the 925X chipset. Otherwise, choose the 915P chipset. In both cases, you need to move up to PCI-Express graphics immediately. If you're content with integrated graphics for now but want to move to PCI-Express graphics later and don't need error-correcting memory support or 64-bit extensions, the 915G chipset is your best option.

Power Supply Issues

If you're planning to use a motherboard based on these new chipsets and a matching Socket 775 processor as an upgrade to an existing system, be sure to check the power requirements for the motherboards you consider. Some motherboards use a 24-pin connector instead of the traditional ATX 20-pin connector. Adapters are available to convert a 20-pin power supply to work with a 24-pin motherboard, but be sure your power supply provides adequate power on +5V and +12V lines. See the manual for the motherboards you consider for details, and compare the requirements to the rated output of your system's current power supply.

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