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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [08.30.04]
Manufactured by: Abit, DFI, Foxconn, Gigabyte


DFI Lanparty 925x-T2 Cont'd

Now you're beginning to understand what I meant about the Lanparty being not 'just a motherboard' but a whole package to base a system around. We're only halfway through all the accessories that DFI throws in! And here's another one:

It's a PATA > SATA adapter. We saw Abit do this when SATA was new, and now that we have some scorching fast native SATA drives coming out, DFI decided to include one with their motherboards ;)

Seriously though, this allows you to use any PATA device on a SATA bus. Using the Silicon Image Sil3611 controller, it accepts SATA commands and converts them to PATA commands. It does the same thing on the way back.

This won't affect performance one single bit (I tested it with a ATA100 hard drive, and specs were almost identical. CPU utilization was down by 0.4%, at 2.0% using this device), since it still has to communicate with the device using PATA commands. But one of the major benefits of SATA is the smaller cable size, and that makes it worthwhile to use this adapter instead of PATA. The best part is that it is perfectly compatible with optical drives, so you can have a full SATA setup, even with a PATA optical drive! Now that would make for a clean install! In fact, the controller on this device is the exact one being used on drives with integrated SATA support.

I'm not sure, but if you had two of these, you might even be able to use Matrix RAID, which is normally intended for SATA drives. I no longer have enough PATA drives to test this though!

Speaking of cables

To go with the whole UV reactive orange look, DFI included a pair of cables (one IDE, and one floppy - there is only one IDE connector on 925x boards remember), and a cable sleeve kit. I have to say that I preferred the cables that came with the older Lanparty boards. They were still orange and UV reactive, but used translucent plastic so you could see the braiding underneath. These ones look cheaper than the ribbon cables included with the Abit and Gigabyte boards we looked at (and will be messier too, since they are long and unflexible).

Sleeve kits can be great, but are only as good as the installation method. If you were to follow the instructions included in the board (which tell you to leave the molex plugs on, and zip tie the sleeves shut at the ends), you'll be left with a total mess. However if you have the right tools (plug removers for EVERY plug type, heat gun, heat scissors, etc), you will have an absolutely gorgeous set of power cables. At the very least, you have a sleeve kit that matches the rest of your board if you ever decide to go all the way with sleeving.

Return of FrontX

I was never a big fan of the FrontX kits. I always found them to be ugly, and pretty useless overall. Most cases have front USB and audio headers now, and FrontX didn't usually offer much beyond that. However DFI is sticking with FrontX, this time including the latest version:

This time they are using a black version (smart!). Here are the ports that are included:

On the left is a FireWire port. Next to it is a SATA port, for external SATA devices (they are hot-swappable you know!). Next to that is a set of 4 LED's - that's right you can finally have a set of diagnostic LED's OUTSIDE your case! And finally there is an optical digital input port. This is by far the most useful FrontX set I have seen so far.

And finally, the PC Transpo makes a return. The bag itself is the same as before, but a new shoulder strap is included. I personally use my PC Transpo every week for LAN action, and I don't know what I would do without it! Sure you look like a total dork, but can you think of a better way to transport your PC? (if you do, and it's less geeky, let me know!) ;)

And there you have it, three pages dedicated to the Lanparty, where the other boards are done with one. Of course, the Lanparty will be priced accordingly; expect it to be at least $50-70 more than the other boards in this roundup. It might be worth it though, if you look at what you get in the package.

And now, we can finally get to the other boards...

Next Page: (Board Overview - Foxconn 925A01-8EKRS)