|Intel BOXD945GCLF2D Atom 330 mITX Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Hank Tolman - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 15 July 2009|
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Now it's time for some of the down and dirty on the Intel D945GCLF2D motherboard. The board comes with only a single DDR2 DIMM slot that supports up to a meager 2Ghz of memory. This is a major drawback. Another DIMM slot would easily fit on the board and would allow the user up to 4Ghz. Although that amount is not necessary for basic web browsing and media playback, it is almost a must-have for Windows Vista. Hopefully Windows 7 will be less demanding on the RAM front. The RAM bus speed can be 533Mhz or 667Mhz, but since the front-side bus speed is only 533Mhz, it won't make a huge difference either way. Of course, at that $79.99 price tag, I am really just nitpicking here. That the board does offer use of the higher speed 667Mhz DIMM modules is a step in the right direction. A lot of Atom boards only accept the 533Mhz RAM.
Another bothersome point is on the rear I/O panel. There are only 4 USB ports, no eSATA or 1394 ports, and no DVI port. Given that this was built to be a mobile or nettop computer, the connectivity is very limited. There is still plenty of room on the I/O panel for some of these amenities, but you will have to look for a more expensive board to find them. There are two USB pin sets on the motherboard for up to four more USB ports, but what ITX case offers four USB ports on the front? I say stick two more on the back and leave only one pin set for the two ports that will inevitably come with the case. And while we're back there, how about getting rid of the out-dated parallel port and adding a DVI port instead? The board only offers one option for sound enthusiasts, the standard 5.1 channel ports. Again, you will have to find a seperate card, or go with a more expensive motherboard to find S/PDIF or Optical out ports. This one just doesn't have them.
The actual processor, the Atom 330, is really an amazing piece of architecture. It, like its predecessor, is built using a 45nm production and each of the two processors has about 50 million transistors. Really, the dual core Atom 330 is just two single core Atom 230 processors put onto the same substrate. It is quite a shock to see just how small these processors are, but they do pack quite a punch. You can see the size of the single core Atom 230 processor compared to a quarter.
All said and done, this motherboard has a lot to offer and asks for little in return; it's cheap, it's power efficient, and it's a dual core. As we mentioned before, this machine won't do very well on the gaming market. FPS will not be a strong point. But for home theater media playback, internet browsing, office tasks, homework, and any other daily common task, the computing market has just seen a fresh overhaul. This makes affordable home or office PCs come to the tune of under about $250.