Practice makes perfect, they say. We agree that with a little "practice" ATI will become a great contender in the chipset market - the Radeon 9100 IGP has given us much hope for ATI in this area. For their first go at the desktop chipset game, they did pretty well with the Radeon 9100 IGP for the Pentium 4 - performance comparable to Intel Springdale and total system stability is all there.
While the Intel 865PE based DFI LANPARTY motherboard took the majority of the wins here today, the newborn ATI chipset (in the form of the very reference looking FIC motherboard) showed some good signs coming out in front a few times in some of the real world gaming tests - the tests which really matter. With time to improve drivers and BIOS'es, we'll no doubt see performance increased with this chip, especially if the big dogs like ASUS, MSI and ABIT decide to get a hold of it and spend some TLC with it and tweak the heck out of it - which we certainly hope they will in the New Year if they haven't already.
While native Serial ATA support on the IXP 150 chipset would have been much nicer, it does include a bunch of features including six USB 2.0 ports and 3Com Ethernet but for some reason FIC choose not to use it with the P4M-RS300. It will be great to see what ATI have for us next year in future chipsets (such as the IXP 250 Southbridge) as far as onboard audio and Serial ATA go as they get more time for development of such devices.
Good on you ATI - You've done an alright job with the Radeon 9100 IGP chipset. It has solid performance comparable to the Intel Springdale chipset, the onboard video offers very good performance for an onboard solution surpassing the Radeon 9200 SE graphics card in most tests and we have an affordable price tag. With some time we're sure ATI will become a true force in the chipset business in the following year and onward with their upcoming solutions where they get more time to master the art of manufacturing chipsets for performance desktop motherboards.
Six USB 2.0 ports
Very solid onboard graphics
Native 3Com networking (but not used with FIC motherboard)
Passive chipset cooling sufficient
4GB total memory support
No native Serial ATA support, yet
Rating - 8.5 out of 10
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