915 Motherboard Roundup: Socket 775 for the Rest of Usby Wesley Fink on December 7, 2004 12:25 AM EST
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The RoundupThe 13 motherboards in this roundup represent a larger group of around 23 motherboards. We decided to eliminate those boards from the same manufacturers that differed only in offering on-board graphics with the 915G chipset. We covered Intel integrated graphics performance in Intel 915 Graphics: Graphics Media Accelerator 900 and all of the 915G boards that we had for testing did have both integrated graphics and a PCI Express slot for a video update. If you're looking for integrated graphics, consider the performance data in this roundup relevant to the same manufacturer's 915G board with the addition of integrated graphics.
If you're interested in comparing integrated graphics, then the 915G review and the recent ATI Radeon Xpress 200 launch review should provide the information you're looking for on integrated graphics performance. Please keep in mind that 915G boards, geared to entry level systems and the business desktop, may perform the same as the 915P boards from the same manufacturer, but they often have more limited options in BIOS. Enthusiasts generally prefer higher performing graphics solutions in an AGP or PCIe video card, and these are the same buyers who also demand better options for tweaking the performance of their motherboard.
One other consideration is memory. All of the 925X boards used the new DDR2 memory, but the 915 chipset family can use either DDR2 or DDR memory. A couple of manufacturers, Gigabyte and DFI, decided to provide the ability to use either DDR or DDR2 memory, but even so, you cannot use both at the same time. This added flexibility is great if you have DDR now, yet plan to move to DDR2 in the future, but it does come with a price. Both boards are limited to 2GB of memory, which can be either DDR2 or DDR instead of the 4GB maximum for single memory boards.
The rest of the boards in the roundup use either DDR2 or DDR. You will find DDR2 featured on the AOpen, Asus, ECS, Foxconn, and MSI. The rest of the manufacturers decided to build their 915 boards with an easier upgrade path and DDR400 memory. This includes Abit, Albatron, Biostar, Epox, Jetway, and Soltek. Since the type of memory that can be used on a 915 board matters a great deal to many buyers, we have tried to group the test results so that you can identify the memory capabilities easily. Color codes were used in our graphs to make it easy to spot DDR, DDR2 and DDR/DDR2 motherboards. The color codes are described in detail in the Test Configuration on page 29.