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I was a little bit surprised to see a six-channel AC’97 CMI9739A codec from C-media on the DFI mainboard. I can’t deny that this codec is a really good solution, as it supports SPDIF, comes with quality drivers and sounds good enough. On the other hand, it is somewhat obsolete, without support of the AC’97 specification version 2.3. I think I could have been more positive about the audio capabilities of LANPARTY PRO875B, if DFI had preferred the latest codecs from Realtek or Analog Devices which are already used on other manufacturers’ mainboards.

Using the properties of the ICH5R South Bridge, LANPARTY PRO875B offers you eight USB 2.0 ports. Four of them are located on the mainboard back panel, and four more can be output through the additional USB brackets. To my regret, there were no brackets of the kind among the mainboard accessories, but you can use the FrontX panel instead, which fits into the 5” bay of the system case and carries two High-Speed USB ports. As for the competing bus, DFI gave up the implementation of FireWire (IEEE1394) in this mainboard. I think that’s not quite reasonable as most competing products targeted at the same customer and price categories generally come equipped with IEEE1394 ports.

Instead, DFI decided to make up for the lack of FireWire by providing an all-out support of the ATA interface and RAID arrays. LANPARTY PRO875B allows building RAID arrays from Serial ATA-150 as well as ATA/133 drives. That’s how it works: the ICH5R South Bridge is responsible for two ATA/100 and two Serial ATA-150 channels you see on the mainboard. It is the same ICH5R that supports SerialATA RAID arrays of levels 0 and 1. To implement the ATA/133 RAID the mainboard designers had to call for an external HighPoint 372N controller. This chip brought two ATA/133 channels with RAID support to LANPARTY PRO875B. This controller is unique as it supports the so-called RAID level 1.5, besides the ordinary RAID 0, 1 and 0+1. RAID 1.5 is in fact a slightly modified RAID 1. With RAID 1, we “mirror” the information, that is, it is all stored on one drive, while the other one stores the copy. Mirroring ensures highest data security (if one drive fails, you can extract your valuable data from the other drive). With RAID 1.5, the data is split into two halves and each half is stored on each of the two drives, while the mirrored halves are stored on the opposite drives. Alternating write requests to the two drives, we reach overall higher write performance maintaining the same level of security (read requests alternation is also here, but it is used in ordinary RAID 1, too). According to independent tests, RAID 1.5 is generally faster than RAID 1, although not too much. Anyway, RAID 1.5 seems a better option than RAID 1 as it requires the same number of HDDs, but is a little faster. On the other hand, there is one disadvantage though: this technology is only supported by the HighPoint 372N controller and this chip is rarely used by other mainboard manufacturers. So, if you replace the mainboard, you will hardly be able to read the information from your RAID 1.5 array.

Among the accompanying accessories of the DFI LANPARTY PRO875B there is a FrontX panel to be installed into a 5” bay of your system case. The FrontX carries microphone and headphones jacks and two USB ports; they are not fixed but inserted along the rails, and you can mix and match them to your taste. Besides that, you can make the FrontX carry four diagnostic LEDs that form the D-LED system. The system is similar to what we know from MSI mainboards: the combinations of the LEDs during the POST procedure tell you about any problems occurring on the computer startup stage.

 
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