We here at Viperlair have looked at quite a few motherboards over the past few months. It seems that for each chipset that is released each company releases at least two or more motherboards based on that chipset. This is good for consumers, as they are given quite a bit of choice in what they want in a motherboard. However, it leaves questions as to how fast these different motherboards perform. That is why we are here, to provide a detailed look at these pieces of hardware, so to today we will look at another motherboard vying for your hard earned cash.
DFI has been around as a motherboard manufacturer for quite a few years. One of the first DFI motherboards I came across was an AT powered VIA MVP3 based motherboard, which worked well for what I needed it to do. Now DFI is providing some very interesting designs of motherboards and their packaging, including the LAN Party motherboards that offer everything a LAN partier with a case window would want.
We all know the performance of the 865PE chipset from our previous tests of 865PE based motherboards, but we have also seen some limitations with some of them, does this hold true for the DFI 865PE motherboard?
DFI 865PE Infinity
What kind of impression does the external looks of the motherboard and its box give us? Does DFI include all kinds of extras in the box for use? Let's take a look at some of the pictures of the motherboard to see.
What do you get in the box? Lets look at a itemized list:
- The Motherboard
- Back Plate
- Two SATA cables
- SATA Driver disk
- Quick reference manual
- Motherboard and SATA RAID manual
- Floppy drive cable
- IDE cable
Looking at what we get in the box it leaves a fair bit to be desired. While the motherboard has eight USB ports it only has connections for four of them, all of which are located on the ATX back plate. The same thing is true of the firewire port(s), as only one is supplied but three are available. DFI hasn't included SATA power connectors, which wasn't completely worrying as many power supplies are now coming with SATA power connectors. However, they did include all the necessary IDE cables and back plates that you need.
The manuals on the other hand are rather small and filled with very little in the way of information, with only 22 pages of English manual and only six pages of actual writing. This is rather disappointing as almost all the BIOS screens are not mentioned at all in the manual.
Looking at the layout of the motherboard, we can see that DFI put some thought into the back plate of the motherboard. They have put almost everything on the back plate that you would need. There is all six channels of audio as well as SPDIF in and out which is unusual. The AGP/PCI/ACR arraignment is pretty standard at 1/5/0, with the AGP being a 8X, 1.5v device. The memory slots are color coded for Dual Channel operation with similar colors being used for dual channel memory. The IDE ports and the power connector are in a very good spot as you do not have to go over the CPU to connect them. However, the ATX 12v connector is still located in a poor location as you have to go over the CPU to connect it.
Looking at the extra SATA controller we see that DFI chose to use a Silicon Image 3112a controller, and thus bypasses any other controller chip from Promise or Highpoint. It supports both RAID 0 and RAID 1 modes, which is a standard thing for most add-in IDE cards. The Firewire controller is based on a Via 6306 chip which provides 1394a speeds, but not the newer 1394b which provides 800Mb/s as opposed to the 400Mb/s of the 1394a controllers.
Now onto the audio chip and gigabit LAN card. DFI has chosen to include the chipset, unlike others who use the Realtek AL655 chipset. Either chipset will offer fairly good audio quality, for standard use with most speakers. As for the gigabit LAN chip, DFI has oddly decided to use a Realtek RTL8110S-32 chipset, which uses the PCI bus to transfer data rather than the CSA based LAN card option that some other motherboards have, such as the MSI 865PE Neo2 did that we reviewed previously.
The MCH is obviously the 865PE with a SL-spec of SL722 which makes it a A2 revision of that chipset. It provides one with all the features of the 875P, such as dual channel memory and AGP 8X but at a lower price tag. The ICH5 makes an appearance here but isn't the R version of the chipset, which adds SATA RAID to its feature set. However, it still provides us with all the basic functions that we need, including two SATA ports.