Foxconn 915A03-P-8EKRS - Page 6

..:: 915A03-P-8EKRS System BIOS ::..

For the 915A03-P-8EKRS’s BIOS, Foxconn has opted to go with the usual setup that we have seen countless times prior. When you enter the BIOS, you’ll come across all of those usual options such as Standard CMOS Features, Advanced BIOS Features, Advanced Chipset Features, Integrated Peripherals, Power Management Setup, PnP/PCI Configurations, PC Health Status, Frequency / Voltage Control, and all of the Default Settings, etc. Foxconn also has one additional menu that houses the enabling / disabling options for their own technologies, more on this in a minute. We’ll be primarily interested today in the BIOS Features, Advanced Chipset Features, Integrated Peripherals, PC Health Status, and of course the Frequency / Voltage Control.

The first menu that we’ll be diving into is labeled as “BIOS Features”. This menu houses four of the features / technologies that Foxconn has implemented into their 915A03-P-8EKRS. When the user enters into this menu, they find a simple listing of the four technologies, along with the settings available for each. First off, we have SuperBoot. All this feature does is store boot data in the CMOS so that when the system is booted up again later, the boot process takes less time and yields a faster start up. This isn’t much of a special feature as this is common on nearly all motherboards. Next up, we have the SuperBIOS-Protect option, which seems to be a glorified capability to prevent a virus from corrupting the system BIOS, again a fairly standard feature on most modern motherboards. SuperRecovery is meant for data protection should something happen with the HDD. Lastly, we have SuperSpeed, the most useful of these items. SuperSpeed actually features a submenu that allows for control over such items as the multiplier, memory frequency, FSB, and a voltage adjustment option for the VCore.

The Advanced Chipset Features submenu houses all of the oh-so-important memory timing options. While Foxconn allows for the standard memory timings to be manually adjusted, there are no other tweaking options available that would make the 915A03-P-8EKRS a standout for tweaking options. Foxconn offers the standard CAS, RAS to CAS, RAS to Precharge, and Precharge timing selections. Some of the more other settings that can be adjusted within this window are whether or not to enabled caching of the System and Video BIOS’, as well as the Memory Hole and PCI Express Root Function.

Much like what we have seen in our years of reviewing motherboards, the Integrated Peripherals window is also broken up into an immense listing of certain specific aspects of the motherboard and the peripherals that are built-in. Within this menu, the user has the ability to configure the IRQ settings of several of the integrated peripherals, along with enabling or disabling the ones that they wish to use or not to use for that matter. Within this menu, we can enable or disable several items such as USB 2.0, HD Audio, Integrated LAN, Serial Ports, Parallel Port, and much more. If you know that you’re going to be utilizing any of the given features offered by the 915A03-P-8EKRS, this is the portion of the BIOS where you’ll need to look to make sure each of them has been enabled.

The next menu that we will be discussing is that of the PC Health Status menu. The menu houses all of the various displays for system temperatures, RPM readings, and voltage readings. As you can see, our 3.60GHz “Prescott” processor is running with the proper VCore at roughly 1.25V, much better than the 1.40V+ we have been receiving on some other motherboards in house. This is still within the operating voltage, and the loss of a little voltage across the core will aid in cooling by quite a bit. Foxconn also adds an option to select a shutdown temperature for the system, as well as a warning temperature where the system will begin to produce intermittent beeps. These are options you’ll definitely want to enable should you be operating off a high-end “Prescott” core processor.

The last submenu that we’ll be covering from the “Advanced” portion of the BIOS is the “Frequency/Voltage Control” submenu. This portion of the BIOS will more than likely be home to the overclocker and performance enthusiast. Starting off from the top, we see that Foxconn has allowed for adjustment of the Memory Frequency, CPU Multiplier, and the PCI Clock Auto Detect feature. What seems odd to me is that, these features were already included in the SuperSpeed portion of the BIOS, so it seems a bit odd to have them in this menu as well. Below, we find that Foxconn also allows for manual adjustment of the FSB, as well as the PCI-Express bus. We’ve heard of problems on boards who have fixed their PCI-E bus to 100MHz instead of letting it float with the FSB, so who knows if we’ll find this problem as well. There is also an option to fix the PCI bus to the standard 33.33MHz, which most users will use as a standard option.

The last three options all deal with the various system voltages. To start things off, we have the VCore adjustments, which can add up to a maximum of 0.1875V to the standard VCore. There are several steppings below this level that follow in line with the typical +0.125V additive voltage. As far as the memory voltage adjustments go, this is an area where we hoped to find a bit more offered. Foxconn only allows for +0.15V on the memory, not all that much in comparison to some of the performance boards we’ve come across. Finally, we see that the System voltage can be adjusted to either +0.03V, +0.06V, or +0.10V. This is yet another area where you’ll see performance oriented products offer a wider range of options.

The Foxconn 915A03-P-8EKRS ships with a decent BIOS given the market it is directed at. We really didn’t find many more advanced options for memory tweaks, the only other option besides lowering the timings as upping the Northbridge voltage to get more MHz on the FSB. I was also a bit disappointed with some of the voltage options given for the System and DRAM. It’s nice to see Foxconn allowing their end users to add on some additional voltage, but it would be even better if they allowed for some higher voltages. Granted, this board likely won’t be the top choice for an overclocking enthusiast, but it could still be an option to one on a tighter budget. I was also a bit confused as to why Foxconn goes out of their way to add on a menu for all of the Super xxxx functions, when virtually all of them are located in other portions of the BIOS, i.e. the FSB, Multiplier, and VCore controls. Overall, decent BIOS, but it could use some clean-up and clarification.

..:: 915A03-P-8EKRS Overclocking ::..

Our overclocking experiences with the Foxconn 915A03-P-8EKRS were rather poor. Clearly, Foxconn has not joined the rest of the crowd in finding a way to get around the 10% overclocking lock that Intel placed on the i925/i915 series of chipsets. The highest stable overclock we were able to attain was 10% on the FSB, or a final FSB of 880MHz. Anything higher than this point would lead to failed boots, or the system simply would refuse to POST. Obviously, if you’re looking to do some overclocking, you’ll want to look elsewhere for boards that can attain the 25%+ level. If you’re new to overclocking, or just want to try it out without hosing your system, then the 915A03-P-8EKRS is a good choice, depending on performance, which we’ll take a look at now.