Intel DG45FC: Loaded LGA775 Mini-ITX Board

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Intel DG45FC: Loaded Mini-ITX Board

September 17, 2008 by Lawrence Lee

Product Intel DG45FC
Intel LGA775 Motherboard
Manufacturer Intel
Street Price US$130~150

Intel is pushing deeper into the mini-ITX market, threatening to transform a once expensive niche into a mainstream budget platform. Last year, they unleashed the Celeron-based D201GLY, the first truly affordable mini-ITX solution, which sold in retail channels for $70, an un-heard of low price for m-ITX. This year, they took it a step further by using the low-power Atom processor in the D945GCLF. While both products are impressive for the industrial and commercial embedded markets, due to the lack of CPU and GPU power, they offer only basic functionality which most DIY enthusiasts simply cannot live with. To many enthusiasts, such products are interesting toys rather than usable tools. The exception is in the role of a home server, which does not require much CPU or GPU power.

The Intel DG45FC is a more versatile mini-ITX board. Forgoing the imbedded processor, the DG45FC has an LGA775 socket, letting users decide what processor suits them best — it supports all Celeron, Pentium dual-core, and Core 2 Duo processors; only quad core processors are excluded. It is based on the new G45 Express chipset featuring X4500 graphics, so it should also provide a much better multimedia experience than Intel's previous mini-ITX offerings. As with most new IGPs, Intel claims X4500 has better 3D performance and decoding for high definition video formats.

While it's not the first LGA775 mini-ITX mainboard, it is certainly one of the the most functional, judging by specs. We've criticized Intel in the past for the lack of digital outputs on their onboard video boards, but the DG45FC has rectified these concerns. Intel has gone all out, abandoning the analog VGA output altogether, arming the board with DVI and HDMI, along with S/PDIF, gigabit ethernet and eSATA. The closest socket 775 competitor we've had experience with, the recently reviewed Zotac NF610i-ITX, has a pitiful feature-set by comparison. The Zotac board was a crude attempt to bring more computing power to the mini-ITX platform, but it did whet our appetite for a better implementation. The AMD 690G based Albatron KI690-AM2 was quite full-featured but it never saw much distribution and now the chipset is history. We have been anticipating the DG45FC to be the solution.

Except for the model number there is little to differentiate the box from that of the D945GCLF.

The back of the box illustrates most of its features.

Intel DG45FC: Specifications (from the product web page)
Form factor
Mini-ITX (6.70 inches by 6.70 inches [171.45 millimeters by 171.45 millimeters])
Processor At product launch, this desktop board supports:
* Support for an Intel® Core™2 Duo processor in an LGA775 socket
* Support for an Intel® Pentium® dual-core processor in an LGA775 socket
* Support for an Intel® Celeron® dual-core processor in an LGA775 socket
* Support for an Celeron® processor 400 sequence in an LGA775 socket
Memory * Two 240-pin DDR2 SDRAM Dual Inline Memory Module (DIMM) sockets
* Support for DDR2 800/667/533 MHz DIMMs
* Support for up to 4 GB of system memory
Chipset Intel® G45 Express Chipset
Audio Intel® High Definition Audio in the following configuration: * 8-channel (7.1) audio subsystem with five analog audio outputs and one optical S/PDIF digital audio output using the IDT 92HD73E audio codec
Video Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator X4500HD onboard graphics subsystem with integrated HDMI + DVI-I display ports
LAN support Gigabit (10/100/1000 Mbits/sec) LAN subsystem using the Intel® 82567LF Gigabit Ethernet Controller
Peripheral interfaces * One serial port via header
* Up to 10 USB 2.0 ports (6 back ports and 4 via headers)
* 5 Serial ATA 3.0 Gb/s ports, including 1 eSATA back port with RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 support
* Consumer IR receiver and emitter (via internal)
Expansion slot One PCI Express* x1 bus add-in card connectors

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