Intel launched the new Pentium 4 Socket 775 processors and the 925X/915 chipsets to support them on June 19th. Since that time, the demand for the new Intel motherboards has been underwhelming, to say the least. The new Intel architecture launched many new technologies and features to the market. We explored these new features in the launch reviews: Intel 925X/915: Chipset Performance & DDR2 and Intel's 925X & LGA-775: Are Prescott 3.6 and PCI Express Graphics any Faster? The bigger issue, though, is that the Intel 925X/915 didn't also bring with them a compelling reason for users to embrace the new socket or the new features.

The new 775 processors just weren't any faster than the Socket 478 CPUs most owned already. So for the same performance, users would need a new processor on a new motherboard, new DDR2 memory, a new heatsink/fan, a new PCI Express video card to replace their AGP video card, and (most likely) a new power supply with a 24-pin power connector. For this, they get about the same performance with a hotter-running 90nm CPU that has developed a reputation for throttling unless the HSF and thermal compound is exactly right. Unless manufacturers found ways around the design issues with 925X/915, buyers also found that they were moving from the best overclocking platform in the Socket 478 to a limited OC solution in Socket T. Fortunately, many manufacturers found ways around this issue. However, you will see in this roundup that there are still manufacturers who did not make revisions to get around the 10% Overclock limit.

As a result of all this, we have not looked any further at Socket T after our initial run at the top 925X boards in Intel 925X Roundup: Creative Engineering 101. Now, some 6 months later, there are market developments that make it worthwhile to look at mainstream 915 boards. The most important of these is that Intel is tightening supplies of 865/875 chipsets to move buyers to the new socket. Manufacturers are finding it more difficult to find 865/875 chipsets to buy, or in some cases, they must buy a Socket T chipset with every 865/875 chipset that Intel will sell them. The time is coming when your only choice from Intel will be one of the new 915/925X boards. We also found that the variation in performance among new 915 boards is much greater than what we have seen in any recent chipset, so it is time for a little guidance on what performs best. If the only choice is 915, you need to know how the huge selection of Socket T boards will actually perform in a head-to-head comparison.
The Roundup
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  • krelian - Wednesday, December 08, 2004 - link

    I been a Intel user since the first Pentium 3 came out now I have a Intel P4 3.0C I refused to spend more money on things I had already bought so I stayed with the 478 socket, seeing as Intel wants me to move to an expensive platform, I say I'll ditch Intel head with the AMD crowd, I'm sure I won't be the only one, maybe legions of intel campers will leave. Reply
  • ChineseDemocracyGNR - Tuesday, December 07, 2004 - link

    About the config I put together in the previous post; does anyone know if the overclock lock on the 915P chipsets apply to lower FSB's too? Could I overclock the 133MHz Celeron D to 200MHz on any 915P motherboard?
    Reply
  • ChineseDemocracyGNR - Tuesday, December 07, 2004 - link

    The 915P chipset provides good value for the money. For example:

    ECS 915P-A $79
    Intel Celeron D 325J 2.53GHz $88
    Albatron GeForce 6600 128MB $120.50
    or
    Albatron GeForce 6600GT 128MB $190.50
    (newegg prices)

    The processor can be overclocked to 3.6+GHz very easily, much like the Athlon Mobiles.

    That makes a good budget gaming rig, better than anything you could put together with an AMD processor for the same money. So, at least in my opinion, AMD has a better mainstream/high-end processor, and Intel wins the value segment. Who would say?
    --

    I have now read the entire article, and oh boy! Though I prefer to read about socket 754/939 motherboards, this has to be the best motherboard roundup I ever read. Ever. Well done.

    --
    #22,

    thank your fixing it. The typo I wrote about on page 10:
    "The fact that Asus manages a higher OC than more recognized OC boards like DFI and Asus "

    Don't you mean ABIT in the last word there?
    Reply
  • ocyl - Tuesday, December 07, 2004 - link

    Wesley > Thank you for paying attention to the audio features/components of these motherboards, particularly Dolby Digital Live :)
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, December 07, 2004 - link

    #21 - The Foxconn results have been corrected on p.20. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. Reply
  • ChineseDemocracyGNR - Tuesday, December 07, 2004 - link

    A few typos:
    "The fact that Asus manages a higher OC than more recognized OC boards like DFI and Asus "

    page 10.

    On page 20, the "Front Side Bus Overclocking Testbed" table is probably wrong.

    ---

    Good article.
    Reply
  • LeadFrog - Tuesday, December 07, 2004 - link

    Why does only the socket 915 get a 16mb cache Hard Drive? Reply
  • danidentity - Tuesday, December 07, 2004 - link

    Wes, I said thanks before but I'll say it again, great roundup. We appreciate your hard work, always. Reply
  • danidentity - Tuesday, December 07, 2004 - link

    Live -

    The P5GD2 is expensive compared to most boards, but it includes a ton of stuff, like 8 SATA ports, dual gigabit LAN, on-board 802.11g/b, and on-board hi-def audio with Dolby Digital Live (realtime encoding, like SoundStorm).

    Most 915P boards aren't as close to as expensive as the Asus. The Abit AG8 is ~ $130, equal or cheaper in price than the K8N Neo2.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, December 07, 2004 - link

    #16 - After I did the price analysis today I changed "outstanding value" to "good value". Thanks for the comment about the review being good reading. It is appreciated as a huge amount of work went into this roundup. Reply

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