Intel DG45FC: Loaded LGA775 Mini-ITX Board

CPUs|Motherboards
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FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall we are impressed with the G45 chipset. While the X4500 IGP represents only an incremental increase in both 2D and 3D performance over the G45, power consumption was much improved. We would love to see Intel make G45 their defacto chipset rather than the woefully outdated and inefficient G945 chipset used in the desktop versions of Atom boards. The G45 chipset would have made Atom-based solutions truly killer. The potential power savings would improve battery life in mobile devices and the vastly superior graphics subsystem would help make up for the Atom's lack of processing power when playing multimedia.

However a motherboard is not just a chipset — the manufacturer is key in how the finished product ultimately ends up. While the DG45FC is more of a consumer/enthusiast product, it is still mainly a business-oriented Intel workhorse. The BIOS is completely locked down, and the fan control system is primitive. We should also note that the board does not support quad-core or older high TDP dual core CPUs — this may be a power regulation issue as there might not be enough room on the PCB to fit all the electrical components required to handle a high power processor.

Despite these quibbles, for a mini-ITX mainboard, the Intel DG45FC probably has no current equal. It has a vast feature-set including 4 SATA ports, gigabit ethernet, and eSATA, and a wealth of digital outputs. Its $130~150 price-tag is quite reasonable — mini-ITX gear generally goes for a large premium, but the DG45FC is only marginally more expensive than equivalent mATX motherboards. Paired with a Wolfdale processor and an efficient power supply, the DG45FC is an excellent choice for a powerful yet energy-efficient mini PC.

PROS

* Core 2 Duo compatibility
* Very low power consumption
* Excellent HD playback
* Multitude of digital outputs
* Priced well
CONS

* Does not support quad core
* Poor fan control
* Restricted Intel BIOS
* Limited 3D performance

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