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Five i845E mainboards in the test: who will win?

Five i845E mainboards in the test: who will win?

Audio Winbench 99

The Audio Winbench 99 from ZDNet is on our test course for the first time. The code number '99' may indicate an outdated benchmark. But still performed todaythe program does its job. The Audio Winbench measures the load on the main processor for various sound qualities. The result is a guarantee for the quality of the onboard codec. In the past, the AC97 codec in particular often had to be said to be too heavy on the processor. This benchmark should clarify whether this is really the case.

Audio Winbench 99
Unit: Percent
  • 44.1 KHz, 16Bit, 32 Voices:
    • Gigabyte - GA-8IEXP
      7.85
    • Abit - IT7
      1.64
    • EPoX - EP-4BEAR
      1.63
    • MSI - 845E Max2-BLR
      1.63

We were also a bit surprised by this result. It is precisely the CT5880 hardware sound chip from Creative on the GA-8IEXP that achieves a very poor result with 7.85 percent CPU utilization and is far behind the software AC97 codec from Realtek, which is used on the other three boards Use comes. It was to be expected that the boards from Abit, Epox and MSI would be so close together, as they all use the AC97 codec and so the requirements are practically identical.

Audio Analyzer

The 'RightMark Audio Analyzer' is also celebrating its premiere this time. The program tests sound chips for their quality. The line-out and line-in of the sound card are connected by a loop-through cable so that the 'audio analyzer' can compare the transmitted and re-recorded signal directly with a reference value.

Audio quality rating
Abit Epox MSI Freq. response + + + Noise level + + + Dynamic range + + +THD ++ ++ ++ IMD + noise + + + Stereo crosstalk +++ +++ +++ Overall ++ ++ ++
Abit Realtek-Sound
Epox Realtek-Sound
MSI Realtek sound

The audio analyzer agrees. He certifies that all boards have a very good sound quality and with identical results. The result is not surprising considering the identical onboard sound chip from Realtek. Unfortunately, the audio analyzer could not be run on the Gigabyte GA-8IEXP, which is the only board that uses a different onboard sound solution. The audio analyzer could not recognize the looped sound signal, so it stopped the test. In view of the good results, it can be doubted that the CT5880 from Creative would have performed even better on the GA-8IEXP than the ALC-650 AC97 codec from Realtek, which was used by the other contenders.

In our review, the AC97 codec makes a very good picture anyway. Not only because it shone with surprisingly little CPU utilization, but also because it was also able to convince in terms of sound quality.

On the next page: Conclusion