Chaintech, from the minute they started selling motherboards, were all about one thing; overclockers. Chaintech came into the motherboard industry rather late and are a relatively small and young company. Yet this hasn't stopped them from producing some very interesting motherboards. One of these boards Cameron "Sov" Johnson has taken a look at today and it is their Apogee series 9EJL1 for the Pentium 4 platform!
IntroductionChaintech, from the minute they started selling motherboards, were all about one thing; overclockers. Chaintech came into the motherboard industry rather late and are a relatively small and young company. Yet this hasn't stopped them from producing some very interesting motherboards.Chaintech released some very promising Intel i440BX motherboards during the great Slot 1 overclocking stages and won some very big awards for innovation and concept creation. Now, some 3 years later, Chaintech has moved along with the times; but rather than producing many different boards, Chaintech aims themselves at creating one board for all. We recently took at look at their top of the range AMD Athlon XP motherboard solution and Ti4200 video card, all which were pretty impressive, despite a few niggles. Today we are lucky enough to get from Chaintech their P4 top line motherboard, the Apogee 9EJL1 based in Intel's I845E chipset.
Chaintech uses a black, very large box with golden colors, to catch your eye but this is not where the impressive looks end. When you unpack the box you get even more for your dollars.First is your motherboard, always of great importance when buying a new Motherboard. You get a very impressive user manual that explains all the workings of the motherboard and BIOS, so you will have no problems setting things up once you have your board installed in your case. You get the C-Box, cable set, audio module and CD software in a four CD case. Plenty of CD's for you guys who love software bundles.Layout
The layout of the board is similar in design to the Chaintech Apogee 7VJL1. One AGP 4x (1.5v) slot is present as well as green PCI slots for all your expansion needs. The coloring of the DIMM, IDE, FDD and PCI connectors in green is a very attractive feature, set against the backdrop of the dark brown PCB used.Only two DIMM slots are supported on the 9EJL1 since this board uses the Intel I845E chipset it is one limitation we have to live with. Placement of the connectors for IDE are well designed, however, like the 7VJL1, the floppy connector could have done with a bit more thought. Placed at the bottom right hand of the motherboard, this means cables are going to be all over the pace, and placing this board into some server cases will mean you can't use the FDD.The power connectors are placed with some thought, the 20pin ATX connector sits on the upper right of the board, well away from the CPU. The 4 pin connector does cause the cables to cross over the CPU being small in size, these cables won't cause a huge clutter.Chipset
Powered by the Intel I845E northbridge, you get with this board support for AGP 4x transfers, DDR-266 memory and up to 533Mhz FSB for Intel Pentium 4 and Celeron CPU's. Coupled with the ICH4 southbridge, you get AC'97 rev 2.2, 6 USB 2.0 ports, UDAM-100 IDE controller and built in network support. Chaintech fits the northbridge with a very familiar fan. This is the exact same design as the one that was on the 7VJL motherboard.No Cheap AC'97 on this baby
If you are going to build a motherboard for the enthusiast, you need to do away with cheap audio, like AC'97. Chaintech have listened to this demand and have given you a C-Media 6ch PCI audio controller. Supplied with a riser bracket for the rear and Sub/Center speakers, you can really get the full feeling of 5.1 sound from your motherboard. Chaintech couples this board with their impressive Body Theatre sound set. These are basically earphones that are well, the best damm headphones I have played with to date.
Chaintech 9EJL1 - Features Continued
Features ContinuedRealtek Networking
Most of the enthusiasts this board is aimed at has either, 1) Broadband Internet. 2) Go to LAN events or, 3) 1 and 2 together). If you are one of these you will be very happy to know that Chaintech have placed a hardware Realtek 10/100 Fast PCU Ethernet card onboard. While the ICH4 does support an Intel Pro100VE network controller, it is still software controlled and doesn't stand up to the heavy loads the Realtek network controller can.Keeping the case clutter free
Chaintech, aiming at the enthusiast, knows how much good cooling is to a successful overclock. One way to improve case cooling is to use rounded cables for your FDD and IDE devices, allowing better cooling to get past the cables. Well Chaintech comes to the rescue with rounded IDE and FDD cables as standard with their Apogee motherboards. A super effort that.C-Box - Front Panel Connectivity
C-Box is Chaintech's fist attempt at adding front panel ports for your case. Using a 3" box, it moves four USB ports to the front as well as adding the ability to use the Front Panel Audio header on your motherboard. Especially good if you are going to be using the Body Theatre.A RAID Version Coming?
One thing I was disappointed about was the fact that RAID wasn't standard on this board, but from the looks of it, Chaintech is looking into adding RAID for future boards. From the photo you can see the extra IDE solder points and space for a chip around the size of the Promise ATA-133 controller.OverclockingOverclocking on the 9EJL1 was a absolute delight. Not one problem was experienced and some very good full on clock speeds were obtained. Before we get into the final results lets go through the overclocking settings that the 9EJL1 gives you.The BIOS is a standard Award setup. Under the Frequency/Voltage control menu you will find your settings for the overclocking options.First on the list is "CPU Clock". CPU Clock is the FSB select option, you can change your FSB from 100Mhz up to 250Mhz in 1Mhz increments, a must for any enthusiast board.Second is the "AGP Clock" option. You can set your AGP dividers to either 2/3, 1/2 and some other unsupported settings by Intel to keep your AGP clock speeds down when pushing high FSB speeds.Third on the list is the "Memory Frequency" option. This is what controls the DRAM ratio dividers. The options are for 200Mhz, 266Mhz and 354Mhz. Note that the 354Mhz option is only available when using 533FSB processors as it runs the dividers at 3:4.Forth on the list is the beginnings of the voltage controls. "CPU Voltage Regulator" controls the amount of power supplied to the V-Core. The options available are 1.1v up to 1.850v in 0.025v increments. Fifth is the "AGP Voltage Regulator". This controls the amount of power the AGP bus receives. The options are 1.5, 1.59, 1.62, 1.69 and 1.71vSixth and final on the overclocking front is the "DRAM Voltage Regulator". This controls the amount of voltage the DDR-SDRAM receives. Options for this are 2.5, 2.59, 2.62, 2.71 and 2.81v.With all that said we are happy to say with our unlocked Northwood 2G we lowered the multipliers and pushed a FSB of 182Mhz. This is by far a very good speed from an I845E chipset.
Chaintech 9EJL1 - Benchmarks - Test Setup and Sandra
Test SystemProcessor: Intel Pentium 4 2.4B GHz (Northwood) (Supplied by Spectrum Communications)Memory: 2x 256MB DDR-333 Kingmax (512MB) (Supplied by Kingmax)Video Card: nVIDIA Reference GF4 Ti4200 128MB (Supplied by nVIDIA)Hard Disk: Western Digital WD1200 (Supplied by Achieva)Drivers:Nvidia DetXP rev 30.30Software Used: Sisoft Sandra 2002, 3Dmark2001, PCMark 2002 Pro, Sysmark 2002, Winstone 2001, Vulpine GLmark, Flask MPEG4 Encoding, WinAce, Quake 3 Arena, Aquanox, DroneZmark, Max Payne,Commandche 4, Star Trek Voyager Elite Force, Jedi Knight II.SiSoft Sandra 2002 SP1SiSoft Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) 2002 is a synthetic Windows benchmark that features different tests used to evaluate different PC subsystems. We used this to test CPU Raw Performance, Multimedia Instruction Set and Memory Bandwidth Performance. While they are all synthetic results, they do give us a general idea of what is happening and where a component's strengths and weaknesses are.
Due to higher memory dividers, the 9EJL1 takes the lead over the EPoX 4G4A+, which has been our board of choice for overclocking and the bar we set for all I845 chipset boards.
Chaintech 9EJL1 - Benchmarks - System Productivity
Real-World System ProductivitySysMark 2002Sysmark2002 incorporates the following Internet Content Creation and Office Productivity applications:Office Productivity: Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Microsoft Access 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred v.5, WinZip 8.0, and McAfee Virus Scan 5.13.Internet Content Creation: Adobe Photoshop 6.01, Adobe Premiere 6.0, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 7.1, Macromedia Dreamweaver 4, and Macromedia Flash 5.
Higher memory clocks gives the 9EJL1 a much greater advantage over the competition in the business section but mostly in the 3D Rendering abilities does it show.Winstone 2001Business Winstone tests your computer's word processing, spreadsheet and presentation application ability using Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Both Content Creation and Business Winstone 2001 give you great examples of real-world performance.Content Creation tests your computer's ability to create and manipulate images, webpages etc using real world programs such as Photoshop and Dreamweaver, then gives you an overall score
Business applications in Winstone don't benefit from the extra memory bandwidth. A different story is present with the high quality graphics rich Content Creation that takes more out of the system.
Chaintech 9EJL1 - Benchmarks - Synthetic PC Benchmarks
Synthetic PC Benchmarks3DMark2001 SE3DMark2001 SE is the latest installment in the popular 3DMark series. By combining DirectX 8.1 support with completely new graphics (including the GeForce4), it continues to provide benchmark results that empower you to make informed hardware assessments. Build 330 adds support for video cards that have Vertex Shaders but no Pixel Shaders, such as the SiS Xabre Video card.
Greater memory bandwidth due to its higher clock speeds gives the 9EJL1 a great boots in performance in 3Dmark2001 which is highly dependant on the memory.PCMark2002 ProPCMark2002 is a completely new, multipurpose benchmark, suited for testing all kinds of PCs, from laptops to workstations, as well as across multiple Windows operating systems. This easy-to-use benchmark makes professional strength benchmarking software available even to novice users. PCMark2002 consists of a series of tests that represent common tasks in home and office programs. PCMark2002 also covers many additional areas outside the scope of other MadOnion.com benchmarks.
PCMark shows the difference between the 4G4A+ running 333Mhz memory and the 9EJL1 running 354Mhz memory.Vulpine GLmarkVulpine GLmark is a Windows based OpenGL benchmark designed to test out the 3D Rendering performance of GeForce video cards.
Here memory performance doesn't play as big a part, this is evident as the 4G4A+ scores almost level with the 9EJL1.
Chaintech 9EJL1 - Benchmarks - OpenGL
Real-World OpenGL BenchmarksQuake III ArenaQuake III Arena is a real-world OpenGL benchmark that we have been using here at TweakTown for quite a while now because it has proven itself to be one of the best gaming benchmarks around to compare a wide range of different products. Quake III is getting very old, but is still the best way of testing video and PC systems for any instabilities and best performance.
Quake 3 while being old is still one of the best ways of testing for stability and memory performance. The 9EJL1 with a higher memory clock is able to take full lead over the other I845 motherboards.Star Trek VoyagerStar Trek Voyager is another real-world OpenGL benchmark. Based on the Quake III Arena engine, this game is an OpenGL master utilizing DirectX 8. We also apply the new Opt3D patch to allow for the use of Hardware T&L as well as new optimizations for AMD Athlon XP and Pentium 4 SSE2.
Star Trek Voyager, being so closely based on Q3 technology gives a similar outlook as Quake 3.Jedi Knight IIJedi Knight II, Jedi Outcast is a newly released OpenGL game that many have been waiting for. It has greatly improved graphics over its predecessor and it fully supports advanced shaders, as well as very high texture resolutions and effects. There is one demo included in the multi-player section that is good for benchmarking use. In order to enable the benchmarking mode, you have to make a shortcut to the jk2mp.exe program located in the GameData folder of Jedi Knight 2. You have to put the switch "+set sv_cheats1" (no quotes) at the end of the line in the Target Area so that it looks like this: C:\Star Wars JK II Jedi Outcast\GameData\jk2mp.exe" +set sv_cheats 1. The demo file used is jk2ffa.
Jedi Knight 2 takes full advantage of the extra bandwidth provided by the 9EJL1.
Chaintech 9EJL1 - Benchmarks - D3D
Real-World Direct3D BenchmarksMax PayneMax Payne is a new generation DirectX 7/8 game. This game is based on Hardware T&L advancements as well as many other features of the Intel Pentium 4 and Athlon XP.
Max Payne doesn't gain as much from the extra bandwidth the 9EJL1 provides but still manages to stay at the top of the list.AquanoxAquanox is the latest installment of our benchmark software. This game is based heavily on DirectX 8 and 8.1 advancements and is designed to stress video cards to their ultimate limit, in all the best D3D benchmark to date.
Aquanox is a different story, extra bandwidth gives this baby a good boost.DroneZmarkDroneZmark is based on the popular DroneZ game engine. DroneZmark incorporates a looping demo and execution engine to test your system performance.
DroneZmark also makes good use of the extra memory bandwidth offered by the 9EJL1.
Chaintech 9EJL1 - Conclusion
ConclusionChaintech have done a fantastic job power wise on the 9EJL1. Overclocking and overall stability were a joy, as was the additional tweaking options for the memory.What let us down was the layout of the board and the fact that RAID wasn't added on this model. I personally use 2x 40GB Seagate IDE drives in RAID 0 array, and with this board I am required to get a extra RAID controller card.In final thoughts I can say this board is a definite contender for anyone who wants that extra power for the Intel Pentium 4 CPU'sPros- Fast-Stable- Overclocking was simple and easy- 354Mhz memory settings- Hardware Sound and LANCons- Floppy Disk connector is bad spot- No RAID functionsRating: 9 out of 10.
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