Intel – SR440BX review

Slot 1 (Celeron, Pentium II, Pentium III) motherboard
Photo of Intel – SR440BX
£150 + VAT (estimated RRP)

As well as having a dominant share of the processor market, Intel has a nice little sideline in motherboards and chipsets. In the former category, the company’s products have proved quite popular amongst desktop and server system builders. This latest board from the company is an attempt to provide an all-in-one consumer-oriented solution for PC vendors and end-users alike.

With a more integrated solution than many of the motherboards currently available, the SR440BX incorporates both audio and graphics functions into its compact micro-ATX layout. A 16MB nVidia RIVA TNT AGP 2x controller and a Creative Labs SoundBlaster PCI look after these functions, while the whole ensemble is controlled by – unsurprisingly – Intel’s own 440BX chipset. Because of the built-in AGP controller, there’s no AGP slot on this motherboard, which therefore means that there should be space for an extra expansion slot. There should be, but there isn’t. Instead, this board has just three PCI slots and a shared ISA/PCI slot for expansion purposes. Although the onboard graphics and sound chips would account for two slots, it would have been nice to see a board with even more slots available.

The SR440BX has two IDE ports onboard, each of which can handle UDMA/33 drives. There’s the obligatory floppy drive connector too, plus a pair of DIMM sockets rather than the usual three. Somewhat limiting, but these two slots still allow for up to 512MB of memory to be installed. The board can handle Pentium II, Pentium III and Celeron processors with base clock speeds of 66MHz or 100MHz. In addition to the usual ports at the rear – one COM port rather than the usual two, to make room for the VGA output – are audio and joystick/midi ports for the Creative sound adapter, plus two USB ports. Included in the box is a Quick Reference guide, a CD containing software drivers and online documentation, and a package containing IDE/floppy cables, a processor mounting frame and a rear port plate.

Company: Intel

Contact: 0870 607 2439

If you're looking to build a PC with the minimum of components, this is probably a good place to start, since it has good sound and graphics features built in. But the 3D audio-visual market is notoriously fast-moving, and this board has no AGP upgrade path, giving it a relatively short life-span, at least in the high-performance marketplace. It is best suited to use by system builders looking to create low-cost PCs for the consumer market.