The i845D is a little too late to make a lasting impression; it fails to bring anything new to the Pentium 4 platform, no ATA133, no 533MHz FSB, nor anything else that wasn’t already included with the i845. As for performance it is doing a lot better than i845 but still can’t reach the performance of the i850 nor isn’t able to convincingly beat SiS’ and Via’ competing chipsets.
One thing that the i845D did offer is rock-solid stability though, something which in our opinion is more important than a few % extra performance. Granted, better performance will get you a faster system, but if that system is plagued by random reboots or occasional lockups you’ll likely be loosing valuable work and time and thus cut into your productivity. A system that is a tad bit slower but doesn’t have any odd behavior certainly has our preference.
We’re not saying SiS’ or Via’ DDR chipsets aren’t stable by design, but the reference boards we were sent did crash more often and displayed more odd behavior than the production i845, i845D or i850 boards from Asus that we’ve used for comparison. Whether these issues are specific to these reference boards is something we’ll have to re-evaluate once the production boards have started shipping. Then we'll also be doing a more comprehensive and indepth evaluation of the various chipsets, as making any judgements or recommendations now, based on a number of reference boards, wouldn't be fair and rather pointless.
Overall the i845D certainly is a step up from the i845, and actually is the chipset Intel should’ve released three months ago instead of the i845. Whether that was due to legal issues or marketing purposes we’re not exactly sure, as we couldn’t get any comments on the reasoning behind this decision. DDR SDRAM on the Pentium 4 certainly holds promises for the future, SiS’ 645 chipset already showed what a Pentium 4 + DDR 333 is capable of. However the current overall performance champion still remains the i850 with dual channel RDRAM though.
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