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In testing the LANPARTY 865PE was a bit of an enigma. When I initially set it up it ran beautifully at stock settings, but when I attempted to overclock the FSB from its default 200MHz I couldn’t even reach 210MHz without a hard system lock. To rule out a memory problem I tried each module individually in single channel mode and each was able to hit 245MHz. I then plugged both modules back in the board again and was bemused when I was able to effortlessly make it to 250MHz. While I was trying to figure out what was happening I decided to run a few benchmarks at 250MHz only to find the system was totally unstable. After a quick reboot I tried again, but this time the system locked hard at just 235MHz. Confused I switched to using some different modules, which performed worse until I increased the voltage to 2.9v after which I made it to a stable 245MHz. I know both the memory and CPU are good to at least 260MHz as tested in my AI7 so the exact reason for these stability problems is a bit of a mystery and can only be explained by either a problem in the BIOS settings or in the voltage delivery. Disabling Super PATCH and relaxing the memory timings helped, but the results were still variable.
So, all in all a very accomplished performance from a company so relatively new to this demanding market sector. The question is, what do you do if the layout and performance have whetted your appetite but you’re of an age or a mindset that makes those psychedelic colours unpalatable? Or perhaps you’re tied to the desk and see no value in netting yourself a bunch of bundled accessories likely to do nothing more than lay claim to some of your valuable drawer space.
Well, you’ll be glad to know that there’s some good news. Along with the LANPARTY, DFI also supplied me with its Infinity 865PE motherboard. Even under the closest scrutiny this is essentially identical to the LANPARTY in all but two areas. Firstly, the colours have been toned down considerably and, although the PCB is still red, the PCI, AGP and memory slots are now white, brown and blue/back respectively. The other difference is the omission of the power and reset micro switches which, however useful for the tinkerer, are hardly an essential feature.
Although in testing I wasn’t able to overclock the Infinity to quite the same levels as the LANPARTY, but it came within around 10MHz. This suggests it was a component related “luck of the draw” type scenario rather than any electrical or mechanical design shortcomings.
The Infinity 865PE comes with a more traditional assortment of box fillers including the DFI driver and utility CD, two SATA cables, one IDE cable, one Floppy cable, an I/O Plate, a board layout sticker and a manual.
From the position of well respected but slightly stayed second tier motherboard manufacturer, you have to acknowledge the strides that DFI has taken to get where it is today. The LANPARTY was a brave move from DFI but for the most part one that ought to pay off in the long run. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the LANPARTY board available in the UK, although there is an i875 chipset version for around £115. But it has to be said that the Infinity is a bit of a bargain at £59.32, especially if you don’t want to carry your PC around on your back.
With a quality feature set and a genuine value-added bundle, the LANPARTY has earned its right to sit alongside other quality enthusiast boards, however it hasn’t in my opinion done enough to be considered one of the greats. From its stock performance to its Overclocking potential, everything about it is good rather than great, but compared to previous product this could very well be the springboard to stardom that DFI has needed.
But when you look at the price of the Infinity board, it’s clear that DFI can still make great motherboards without expecting customers to dig too deeply. And, since I can only find the Infinity for sale in the UK at this point in time, I’d have to say it’s the better choice.