As expected for some time, Intel released its 4-chipsets last month. This new series, which includes the X48, G45, G43, P45 and P43 Express, was developed to couple Intel's own Core 2 processors. As you will see shortly, it is very similar to the predecessors of the 3 series.
The P45, codenamed Eaglelake, is the mainstream offering in the 4 series. This partially new chipset supports upcoming Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors with a bumped 1600 MHz front-side bus – current Core 2 use either an 800 MHz, 1066 MHz or 1333 MHz FSB . In terms of equipment, the P45 can easily impress, above all by installing the ICH10R south bridge.
The X48 remains the flagship with more PCI Express lanes and greater DDR3 memory support. However, the P45 offers a number of improvements over the P35 chipset. The P45 is built using a 65nm design process compared to the larger 90nm design of the P35.
As you may recall, the P35 and even older P965 chipsets weren't ideal if you wanted Crossfire support. The limitation of running only one graphics card in PCI Express 16x mode while the second was limited to PCIe 4x can affect performance. Even when the manufacturers finally circumvented this, users mostly had the choice between the more expensive X38 / X48 chipsets.
Intel has now solved this problem by integrating digital switches that can distribute the PCIe 16x bus across both slots, thereby balancing the bandwidth. This is similar to how the Nvidia nForce 750i chipset works, designed to make Crossfire an even more competitive solution against SLI.
The ICH10R south bridge, like the ICH9R, still only supports six SATA ports, and USB 2.0 support has not been improved, though most will find that 12 ports are more than enough.
After a few months of postponing the release, today you can buy an Intel P45 motherboard from a number of manufacturers. However, you will find that prices can vary significantly. From just $ 100 for budget-oriented boards to over $ 200 for the best-equipped versions of common suspects like Asus, Gigabyte and MSI.
Asus recently announced the Maximus II formula, which is based on the P45 chipset and is the newest member of the elite series of the Republic of Gamers, aimed at gamers and overclocking enthusiasts. After all, they need to focus on a particular niche that is ready to spend the big bucks when the price of this board of nearly $ 300 is recommended.
This is one of the best-equipped motherboards on the market, including the SupremeFX X-Fi sound card, which uses the ADI 2000B audio codec and provides support for Creative EAX 4.0.
Let us examine this board in more detail.