Enter Abit's BG7E, a Socket 478 motherboard based on Intel's latest integrated graphics chipset, the 845GE. The BG7E isn't a peripheral-packed, high-end board like Abit's IT7 MAX2 Version 2.0, but with integrated video, audio, and networking, one could put together a complete system without discrete PCI or AGP cards.
Can the BG7E's integrated graphics and overall performance and features fulfill the needs of home and business users? Can it keep up with high-end, enthusiast-oriented motherboards when used with a real graphics card? Read on to find out.
Before we get into the details, let's take a quick look at the BG7E's spec sheet.
|CPU support||Socket 478-based Intel Pentium 4 processors|
|North bridge||Intel 82845GE|
|South bridge||Intel 82801DB|
|Interconnect||Intel Hub Architecture (266MB/s)|
|PCI slots||5 32-bit/33MHz|
|AGP slots||1, 2X/4X AGP (1.5V only)|
|Memory||3 184-pin DIMM sockets|
Maximum of 2GB of DDR333/266/200 SDRAM
|Storage I/O||Floppy disk|
2 channels ATA/100
|Legacy ports||1 PS/2 keyboard, 1 PS/2 mouse, Serial and Parallel ports|
|USB||2 USB 2.0/1.1 ports|
4 additional USB 2.0/1.1 ports via PCI expansion header
|Audio||6-channel audio via ICH4 and Realtek ALC650 codec|
analog front, rear and center channel outputs, analog line and mic inputs, digital S/PDIF output
|Video||Integrated Intel Extreme Graphics, 1 VGA port|
|Ethernet||Realtek RTL8100B 10/100 Ethernet|
|Bus speeds||100-250MHz in 1MHz increments|
|Bus dividers||1/3, 1/4 PCI dividers|
(can lock down PCI bus to 33, 40, or 44MHz)
|Voltages||CPU: core+5%, 10%, 15%|
DRAM: 2.5-2.8V in 0.1V increments
|Monitoring||Voltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring|
The BG7E includes the 845GE's Extreme Graphics engine, but it's missing integrated Serial ATA, Firewire, and IDE RAID. For a board like the BG7E, Serial ATA support is asking a little much, especially considering that only a handful of retailers have a limited number of Segate's Serial ATA drives available for sale at the moment. However, the addition of IDE RAID could make the BG7E more attractive for low-end servers, and Firewire support might entice mainstream consumers looking for a home PC.