Intel 855 Northbridge and 6300ESB Southbridge

Using Centrino technology (also see notes at end of article) , Intel has their 855GM chipset to act as the core logic for the platform to go along with the Dothan Pentium M architecture.  The high-end version of this chipset is the 855GME, which is what our test board from DFI is based around, adds a few new features to the platform. 

Intel Pentium M 755 and DFI's 855GME-MGF Review - Processors 82

The 855GME Northbridge

The northbridge has a very limiting set of features, especially in comparison to today’s top of the line chipsets.  It only technically supports a 400 MHz FSB though it can overclock to support the new 533 MHz processors pretty easily.  DDR333 is the fastest memory option supported, and is only in a single channel memory controller at that.  Integrated video is suppled via the Intel Extreme Graphics 2 solution, though I won’t go into how deficient that video solution is, you should know better than to trust it for ANY gaming at all.  Instead, you get to use the AGP 4x bus for an external GPU.

Intel Pentium M 755 and DFI's 855GME-MGF Review - Processors 83

The 6300ESB Southbridge

The 6300ESB is a slight upgrade over those using the ICH4 south bridge by supporting a PCI-X slot (not PCI Express) and two channels of Serial ATA.  RAID 0 and 1 are supported as well.  Two channels of IDE are included as is support for standard PCI as well.  Neither network nor Firewire are included on the chipset, so board vendors are going to have to add these in themselves. 

As we expected, there isn’t much exciting here.  In fact, with all those specifications, how could we expect this platform to perform any where close to other options we have today?  With a processor based on the Pentium 3 with a 100 MHz FSB, AGP 4x, and single channel DDR333, the odds seem stacked against it.

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