Which chipset is right for you?
Selecting the right chipset for your PC is turning out to be as crucial as deciding which processor and how much memory you need. Here's why.
CUSTOMERS SHOPPING for a PC have learnt to ask for the right processor, memory and graphics that meets their requirement.
These days, most of us can tell a Pentium from a Celeron or an Intel chip from an AMD and can decide whether we need 128 MB of RAM memory or 256 MB.
Our budgets also dictate whether we need to live with a conventional colour monitor or splurge on a LCD flat panel.
But how many of us ever bother to ask what chipset - the system co-processor that works with the main processor on the motherboard and does the actual number crunching routines - we want?
When the dealer or assembler announces that the PC uses the original Intel 810, 815 or 850 chipset, we most likely nod our heads as if this meant something to us.
But, while the chipset may seem a matter of minor detail, the multiple flavours recently released by Intel dictate that we know what to ask for.
Otherwise, left to the tender mercies of your friendly neighbourhood PC assembler, you may end up with quite the wrong chipset for your planned application.
Another five minutes spent in reading the rest of this article will hopefully arm you to get best value for your money (and while you are about it, to impress your supplier, no end).
In September 2001, Intel unveiled a new chipset, the 845, to work with the Pentium 4 processor in desktop PCs. With this new chipset customers could say, "Good riddance to bad rubbish" aka the RDRAM made by Rambus that was hitherto mandatory for working with Pentium 4.
As many users realised, Intel was an odd man out, in tailoring its processor to RDRAM and as a result one had to pay almost 50 per cent extra for the memory chips compared to the industry-standard SDRAM.
All that is water under the bridge and with the 845, Intel joined the rest of the sensible world, which swore by SDRAM.
However, life has become complicated in recent weeks because Intel has now introduced three different types of the basic 845 chipset.
Suffixed 845 E, G and GL, these new releases go beyond the year-old 845 since they now accept not just any old SDRAM, but the faster variety called DDR (Double Data Rate). How do you decide which flavour of 845 is for you?
Here's a rough guide -
845E (think of it as E for "Elite") is meant for the high-end users whose Pentium 4 clocks the top speeds of 2.4 or 2.53 gigahertz.
In addition to supporting DDR SDRAM, it still allows you to use the old RDRAM if you choose.
845G (think of it as "General") is meant for the broad range of home and office users who are happy to work with slightly slower Pentium 4s.
It supports a slower type of DDR SDRAM but allows you to use the standard SDRAM, which is the cheapest type available in the market.
845GL (must be named for the "General-to-Low end") is for those who use the older Pentium 4s or the budget Celeron chips.
The problem is that, with chips like the Celeron, games and 3D graphics will seem very slow because the chipset grabs about 48 MB from the main memory to deliver these functions.
The 845GL will render obsolete the 810 and 815 chipsets, which are common in this segment.
Armed with this information, you should be able to specify a chipset, which will help the PC deliver the best performance you, can expect at the price you can afford.
Here's wishing that your future computing is as crisp and clear as the chips you have put under the hood!
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