Intel DG45FC mini-ITX motherboard

March 25, 2009 | 12:07

Tags: #g45 #home #hqv #htpc #itx #mini #mini-itx #motherboard #performance #result #review #sff #testing #theatre

Companies: #intel

Intel DG45FC Features

  • Support for Intel LGA775 CPUs including 65m and 45m Core 2 Extreme, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad, Pentium Dual-Core, Celeron Dual-Core and Celeron with 800 to 1,333MHz front side bus.
  • Support for up to 65W TDP CPUs
  • Intel G45 northbridge with X4500HD graphics, and ICH9R southbridge
  • Two DDR2 DIMM slots for up to 4GB 667/800MHz
  • Ten USB 2.0 ports
  • Four SATA 3Gbps ports
  • One eSATA 3Gbps port
  • One Realtek RTL8211CL Gigabit Ethernet
  • IDT 92HD73E1X5 7.1 channel High-Definition audio codec
  • Onboard DVI-D and HDMI with HDCP 1.3 content encryption support (two simultaneous display outputs supported)
  • One PCI-Express x1 slot
Compared to the Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX, it's somewhat more limited in design. The Zotac supports 95W CPUs compared to Intel's 65W (four power phases versus three), and Zotac claims up to 8GB of memory versus Intel’s 4GB, however both boards still only include two memory slots. The Zotac has twelve USB 2.0, Intel ten, but Intel includes four SATA compared to Zotac's underwhelming two.

Layout

Intel DG45FC mini-ITX motherboard Features and Layout Intel DG45FC mini-ITX motherboard Features and Layout
Click to enlarge

Compared to the competition, Intel gets a little cheap with its components. The chokes are open to the air, ala Abit style, and the MOSFETs are the traditional type as well. With a sprinkling of solid capped capacitors from Sanyo, the board is certainly not the most technically advanced there is, and with the PCB is clearly designed to hold a few more components and it looks like Intel pulled a few capacitors to build it economically.

We've seen this before from graphics cards (HIS Radeon HD 4830 for example) and it doesn't bode well for overclocking or performance tweaking. That said, the board does work perfectly fine as you'd expect from Intel, and in something of this size, reliability is more important than the last few percent of outright performance.

There's enough space around CPU socket for a normal sized heatsink, but something low profile and wide might hit the larger capacitors behind the rear I/O and the northbridge heatsink.

Intel DG45FC mini-ITX motherboard Features and Layout Intel DG45FC mini-ITX motherboard Features and Layout
Click to enlarge

Limited to just a single PCI-Express x1 slot, it can be carefully cut to open the end up for longer cards, but the extreme drop in bandwidth is not advised for graphics: we've seen this recently with an Asus Eee Box and a mobile Radeon HD 3450, and the results were far from acceptable.

Four SATA 3Gbps ports are a welcome addition though, and without using a PCI-Express card are actually easy to get to as well. The ports are aligned so the cables and be neatly stacked and zipped together if the hard drives are placed behind or above the board. One of the available six SATA ports from the ICH9R southbridge is allocated to eSATA duty - so it's possible to setup a RAID 1 array between an internal and external disk, as well as a five drive RAID 5 array for example.

Onboard there is the IDT high-definition sound codec, as well as Intel's own Gigabit Ethernet. In the corner of the right picture above, we can also see the two digital (Parade PS8101) repeater TMDS for the DVI and HDMI ports. The latest drivers released just last week from Intel improve 24Hz and HDCP support with HDMI repeaters - something it's had issues with since G45 launched last year.
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