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DFI CS65 SC i815 Motherboard Review

DFI CS65 SC i815 Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Price Check: $/£/€
Abstract: The Intel i815 chipset can be considered as the true successor of the renowned Intel 440BX chipset. Starting from the 810, Intel has shifted its position from the standard north/south bridge design in favour of what they like to call Accelerated Hub Architecture, or AHA for short. Under this particular design, there are 3 individual hubs: the Graphics and Memory Controller Hub (GMCH), the I/O Controller Hub (ICH) and the Firmware Hub (FWH). The GMCH and the ICH are connected through an internal bus, which offers a bandwidth of 266MB/sec (twice as fast as the PCI).
 90% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: DFI Jan 03 2001   P. Masrani  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > DFI CS65 SC

DFI CS65 SC i815 Motherboard Review


The Intel i815 chipset can be considered as the true successor of the renowned Intel 440BX chipset. Starting from the 810, Intel has shifted its position from the standard north/south bridge design in favour of what they like to call Accelerated Hub Architecture, or AHA for short. Under this particular design, there are 3 individual hubs: the Graphics and Memory Controller Hub (GMCH), the I/O Controller Hub (ICH) and the Firmware Hub (FWH). The GMCH and the ICH are connected through an internal bus, which offers a bandwidth of 266MB/sec (twice as fast as the PCI).

This improvement over the traditional PCI bus is incorporated in all modern chipsets. This general description of the AHA applies in almost every way to the i815. The i815 compared to the i810E, uses a different Graphics & Memory Controller Hub (GMCH) (82815 vs. 82810), but it still uses the same ICH and FWH as the i810E and 820E. The i815E is exactly the same as the i815 but it has a new enhanced ICH2 chip instead of the older ICH.

The GMCH (FW82815) of the i815 supports AGP 4x and integrates the i752 Graphics accelerator (borrowed from the i810). The GMCH supports 66MHz, 100MHz and 133MHz CPU bus speeds, but the memory is always clocked at either 100MHz or 133MHz (asynchronous memory bus). The GMCH of the i815 supports 6 rows of PC100 SDRAM (3 banks) or 4 rows of SDRAM (2 banks) of PC133 SDRAM.

Therefore we can only use 2 double sided 133MHz DIMMs or 3 double sided 100MHz DIMMs. Of course by using single sided DIMMs this limitation changes accordingly.

The integrated graphics accelerator found on the GMCH is equipped with no on board cache and graphics data storage is entirely on the system main memory (shared memory architecture or "Direct AGP graphics" as Intel likes to call it).

There is an (optional) Graphics Performance Accelerator (GPA) board with 4MB display cache, which can be inserted into the AGP slot of any 815 board for increased 3D performance.

The i815 is equipped with the same ICH (i82801AA) as the i810. The 82801AA basically offers the same functions as the South Bridge of a chipset: 6 PCI slots, supports ISA through an optional PCI to ISA bridge, 2 IDE channels (4 devices) supporting Ultra ATA 66, 2 USB ports, Super I/O (keyboard, mouse, FDD, serial parallel ports etc) and an AMR port.

AMR, which stands for Audio Modem Riser, allows us to use the chipset's integrated audio/telephony CODEC's through a cheap expansion card. It basically replaces a cheap WinModem/AC97 CODEC. The AMR appeals only to OEMs and is generally shunned by power users AMR cards are heavily CPU dependant, have poor driver support and comparatively fewer capabilities.

On the other hand, the ICH2 found on the i815E offers the following: 4 USB ports, 2 IDE channels with Ultra ATA 100 support and an integrated 82559 network core. This last feature offers 10/100 Ethernet or HomePNA support at a low cost, and Intel's Communication and Network Riser slot (CNR). CNR is basically an alternative to AMR and both solutions are pin incompatible. The FWH chip found on the i815/i815E is a 4Mbit EEPROM for storing/retrieving system settings and also features Intel's own Random Number Generator. The same FWH is found on the rest i8xx chipsets.

In this review we will be looking at one such i815 based board from DFI, the CS65 SC. Read on to see what sets it apart from similar products out there on the market.


Features & Specifications

Socket 370 ATX Motherboard, supports all available Intel PPGA, FCPGA & VIA Cyrix III processors
Based on the Intel 815 chipset
Integrated 3D graphics based on i752
Four 168 pin SDRAM DIMM sockets support up to 512MB, support for PC 100/PC 133 SDRAM, supports ECC (Error Checking Correction)
1 AGP (up to 4X mode), 5 full sized PCI slots (all V2.2 compliant), 1 AMR slot, No ISA slots
AC97 audio CODEC based on Analog Devices 1881A
External ports: 1 Serial, 1 Parallel, 2 USB, PS/2 keyboard, PS/2 mouse, 3 external audio jacks, game port, VGA output
Internal ports: 1 x external serial (COM 2) , 1x IrDA, 2 x IDE (ATA 66), 1 x floppy, 1 x ATX power, 3 x fan, 1 x WOL,1 x WOR, 1 x opened chassis alarm, 3 x internal audio
Award 6.00 PCI BIOS with green, ACPI, APM, PnP, DMI, functions and Year 2000 compliant, Suspend to RAM, Power failure resume
Built in chipset hardware monitoring functions (based on Winbond W83627HF AW), on board voltage monitors for CPU Vcore, 3.3V,5V, 12V, CPU/Chasis/AGP fan speed monitor, CPU/System temperature monitoring & alarm
Suspend to RAM

The DFI CS65 SC package contained an ATA 66 cable, FDD cable & internal serial cable, and some drivers/manuals. The first thing I noticed was the absence of a manual and the lack of a chipset heatsink as this particular unit is an engineering sample. The final product will have a manual and a chipset heatsink. Even without the heatsink, our board worked fine without any chipset overheating problems at all. There were 22 x 1000µF & 3 x 470µF capacitors present on the motherboard.

The layout of the board is excellent. Just about everything is placed where it should be with one of the only weak points being that the CPU FSB jumpers are located above the IDE ports, which makes it a bit hard to reach. DFI has done a good job designing this board. The FDD and the IDE ports are placed next to the DIMM sockets and memory can be installed or uninstalled without having to remove the AGP video card. It is possible to install full sized cards on all of the PCI slots without any interference. All DIMM sockets can be used even in medium sized ATX cases. There is a DIMM LED and a PCI standby LED to warn the user about the power mode of the board. The board is even equipped with 3 fan connectors for better cooling.

Retail versions of this board will ship with PC cillin 2000 antivirus software. PC Cillin 2000 offers antivirus protection by utilizing users internet access (supports sending suspicious files to Trend Micro for analysis thru Virus Hospital, supports Macro File Auto Analysis, Email Auto responder, Breaking Virus News, online link to Trend Micro's Frequently Asked Questions database, Virus Encyclopedia & Virus Calendar).

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Contents of Article: DFI CS65 SC
 Pg 1.  — DFI CS65 SC i815 Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  Installation and Testing
 Pg 3.  Gaming Performance
 Pg 4.  Sound Quality

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