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What's Inside
If you're looking for a fully-loaded motherboard with built-in 3D 6-channel audio and RAID support, the DFI WT70-EC is not for you. But if you're looking for a solid board to help you get started with the Pentium 4 platform, this board is a good choice--especially for its price!

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Road to the Pentium 4: DFI WT70-EC Motherboard

By Kelly Lu - August 20, 2001

Infobox
What? WT70-EC
Who? DFI Inc.
Home Page
How much? ~$125 USD (Pricewatch - average)
DFI Inc.
For the fourth part of our Road to the Pentium 4 series of reviews, OnePC.NET brings you the DFI WT70-EC motherboard. Since DFI has never really made any breakthroughs in the enthusiast's community, many of you might not have even heard of them. It certainly was surprising, then, when I found out that they are actually one of the world's top 10 motherboard makers! After working with their WT70-EC Pentium 4 motherboard, which is, at about $150 USD on Pricewatch (average price), one of the cheapest Pentium 4 motherboards around, I realized that they are very capable of producing some decent, although not breakthrough, products.

Before I continue, let me just brush up on what the purpose of our Road to the Pentium 4 series of reviews aims to do: to educate you on the technical aspects of the Pentium 4 processor, to give you an idea of the products required to set up a Pentium 4-based system and to give you an idea of what to expect, performance-wise, of the Pentium 4 processor. If you have not read any of our previous parts of this series, I suggest you do--especially the first part.

Specifications

Chipset
Intel 850/ICH2

CPU Socket
Socket 423
Intel Pentium 4 processor (Supports 400MHz system data bus)

Memory
4 x RIMM sockets
max. 2GB
Support PC600 or PC800 RDRAM and ECC

PCI IDE
PIO mode 4 EIDE channels up to 4 IDE devices
UltraDMA/100 transfer rate up to 100MB/sec

Super I/O
2 x NS16C550A compatible UARTs
1 x SPP/ECP/EPP parallel port

External Connectors
2 x USB, 2 x DB-9, 1 x DB-25, 1 x PS/2 keyboard, 1 x PS/2 mouse, 1 x game/MIDI, 3 x Audio jacks

Internal Connectors
1 x connector for 2 additional external USB
1x IrDA
2 x IDE
1x Floppy
3 x ATX power
2 x fan
1 x WOR
1 x opened chassis alarm
3 x internal audio connectors

Power Management
ACPI and OS direct power management
Wake-on event: RTC/USB Keyboard/Modem/LAN/Keyboard/Mouse

Hardware Monitor
System, processor temperature, voltage and fan speed

Expansion Slots
1 AGP slot (Supports 1.5V AGP 4x)
5 PCI slots
1 CNR slot

Audio On Board
AC`97 Audio codec

Other features
ATX 12V power design on board to supports future CPU speed beyond 1.5GHz

BIOS
Award / 4Mbit

Form Factors
ATX, 6 layers
30.5 cm x 24.4 cm
12.05 inch. x 9.6 inch.

The DFI WT70-EC utilizes the Intel 850 chipset, along with a Socket 423 to provide support for the first "wave" of Pentium 4's that are on the market today and not any of the newer Socket 478 mini-PGA Pentium 4's that Intel is planning to release on August 27, 2001. Thus, when the newer Pentium 4's arrive, users of the WT70-EC and other Socket 423 motherboards can only use the older Socket 423 Pentium 4's, which will go to a speed of 2.0GHz only. This is a shame, but cannot be blamed on any of the motherboard manufacturers such as DFI.

As mentioned in the first part of this series, the i850 chipset is the only chipset available as of this moment for the Pentium 4 and utilizes only the more expensive RDRAM and only in pairs, because of its dual-channel memory controller design. Through the chipset, the WT70-EC supports up to 2GB of PC600 or PC800 RDRAM with its 4 RIMM sockets. It also supports ECC RDRAM for those mission-critical applications. This portion of the specification seems to be normal for all Pentium 4 boards.

Through the i850 chipset, the WT70-EC supports all types of consumer AGP cards found today with its AGP 4X slot. The WT70-EC also supports 1.5V AGP 4X cards, but there are very few, if any, consumer-level cards that utilize the extra power that the 1.5V AGP 4X provides.

The i850 chipset is also utilizing Intel's Hub architecture, which is explained in-depth in one of our other reviews here. Through the Hub architecture, the i850 is using the same ICH2 as their Pentium III/Celeron counterparts, the i820E, i815E and the i810E. Therefore, the i850 provides the WT70-EC with support for ATA-100, dual-controller USB, CNR as well as built-in AC97 audio much like all other motherboards based on the ICH2 does. The AC97 audio that is built-into the WT70-EC which is good for casual users, but, when it comes to a system as powerful as a Pentium 4, it would simply go to waste since most users would opt for a better sound card such as the SoundBlaster Live! Platinum 5.1.

Specification-wise, the WT70-EC seems to quite average between all the other Pentium 4 motherboards.

On to: First Impressions

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