The 915G and ICH6 up close!
The Intel 915G northbridge
is next in the line in chipsets following the i865. The i915G is targeted towards
the everyday user, and like the more expensive 925X flavour, can run with a
socket 775 Pentium 4 processor running at 800 MHz or 533 MHz
Where the 925X and 915G separate in terms of features is
915G's capability to support both DDR2 and
regular DDR memory (not at the same time), making
it a much easier upgrade path for users. Several i915 boards are available with
both DDR2 and DDR memory slots, but it is important to remember, that both
types of memory cannot be used at the same time, it's either
Between the memory
controller and system memory is a 8.4GB/s DDR2 connection (6.4 GB/s for DDR
memory) that is plenty fast for the most demanding applications. If you want
the best 3D performance out of your systems, the 915G
also comes equipped with a 16x PCI Express slot.
anyone who wants a powerful computer without the added expense of purchasing a videocard, you
should find the integrated video built into the Albatron PX915G Pro a nice feature. The Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900
is good for a little gaming action, but is primarily intended for office or standard
2D programs. At the very least, the GMA 900 will get you on the right track, and if
it proves too slow for 3D applications, a PCI Express videocard can always be installed
at a later time.
Intel's GMA 900 is
integrated into the i915G northbridge, and it supports HDTV displays as well as dual monitors! For
gamers on a budget, the GMA 900 is not as bad as it might first seem. It
is DirectX 9 compatible, and should be able to run all the games on the market... though
not necessarily very quickly.
We all agree that the Intel ICH5
southbridge was a huge improvement over ICH4, and now ICH6 adds a little more
into the mix. First off, ICH6 natively supports four Serial ATA ports, up
from two found with the ICH5. However as a trade off, the ICH6 has but one IDE
channel. That's it! I guess we just have to say good bye to all your IDE hard
drives... For expansion needs, ICH6 will support up to four PCI Express x1 slots,
or six regular PCI slots.
With IDE quickly going the way of Disco, Serial ATA
devices are where it's at. Being that IDE RAID was a very popular selling point
of many motherboards, it would be a tragedy if consumers were shuffled back to the days
before RAID with SATA. This isn't the case, thankfully. The Intel ICH6R variant supports RAID,
which Intel terms its "Storage Matrix Technology." Intel's has always been clever with catchy names. The RAID feature
is only found in ICH6R southbridges, and it supports RAID modes 0, 1 and 0+1.
The Albatron PX915G Pro
is equipped with the vanilla ICH6 Southbridge, so no RAID options here
There's a rumor going around the web that
Intel has started to place limits on how
high one can push the FSB of its processors. You won't have to worry about that when
overclocking this Albatron motherboard, and we'll show you why in a second. Using a
retail 'D0' stepping Socket 775 Prescott 540 (3.2 GHz) CPU, we began this overclocking adventure not knowing
what at all to expect from the processor or motherboard.
Starting at 200 MHz, we raised the FSB of the
motherboard to the 216 MHz FSB mark without problem. If you remember when we
reviewed this CPU, both the Gigabyte i925X and i915P-based motherboards topped out at 216 MHz.....
At 221 MHz FSB we had to raise the voltage being supplied to the DDR memory to 2.8V,
and CPU voltage to 1.42V to stabilize the overclock. Continuing on to 230 MHz,
we had to lower the memory frequency by enabling the 6:5 memory divider on the
Albatron PX915G Pro.
After that was done
it was smooth sailing to an amazing 244 MHz FSB!
Anything higher caused 3D applications to crash, but Super Pi would
test all the way to 252 MHz FSB. A pretty amazing overclock considering the
3.2GHz Pentium 540 was being cooled by the Gigabyte 3D-Cooler Ultra. Up next, a look around the
BIOS, and the benchmarks you've been waiting for!
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