Foxconn 915A03-P-8EKRS - Page 8

..:: Review Conclusion ::..

Well, we’ve seen all that Foxconn has to offer with their DDR-I based i915P offering, the 915A03-P-8EKRS. Initially, much like what we encountered with Albatron’s i915G based motherboard, we were concerned about system stability on the “Prescott” core processors due to their power draw as the 915A03-P-8EKRS only features a three-phase power delivery scheme. Throughout our testing, as we found with the PX915G Pro, we did not experience any stability problems that weren’t caused by our own mischief. The stability of the 915A03-P-8EKRS at both stock and overclocked levels, albeit at a very low overclock, was right in line with the previous motherboards we’ve reviewed.

The 915A03-P-8EKRS‘s package is a little better than what we have seen so far from some of the other i915x offerings, but it also comes only with what I would qualify as the bare minimum. From a hardware item standpoint, we were pleased to find all of the required items, and were also happy to see that Foxconn didn’t skimp out of SATA data or power cabling, though with no added IEEE1394 bracket, it left the package feeling a bit dry considering the board supports IEEE1394 devices. The documentation that Foxconn has included is superb. Foxconn has managed to provide a well rounded and detailed look at the capabilities and layout of the 915A03-P-8EKRS, along with a good guide covering software installation.

The 915A03-P-8EKRS features a pretty solid design, though there were a few things we felt were missing, and one major problem that is pretty routine on many motherboards. First off, Foxconn only provided two four-pin fan power connections. There should be at least three of these connections available, especially for a rear exhaust fan given the heat situation with the current line of Pentium 4’s. Another problem that came about was the fact that the DIMM slot clips overlap the area of the board that would be used should the end user purchase a higher-end graphics adapter. This was a common problem on older motherboards, and obviously it still exists. This is a hard problem to avoid though in the case of the 915A03-P-8EKRS as it features seven slots, typically the amount of slots where the DIMM overlap becomes problematic. Other than these points, Foxconn has done a solid job with the design and looks of the 915A03-P-8EKRS.

The 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.

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.

In the end, Foxconn has brought a pretty good i915P motherboard to the market with the 915A03-P-8EKRS. The board comes with a better product package than what we’ve seen so far out of most of the i915G and i915P motherboards, but it suffers when it comes to overclocking. Unlike most performance oriented manufacturers, Foxconn has chosen not to follow the rest of the crowd and implement a way for the user to achieve higher than the standard 10% overclocks allowed by the chipset. Clearly, if you’re looking for an overclocking board, this isn’t it. The BIOS also has a special section for features that can already be found in other portions of the BIOS, namely the Frequency and Voltage control settings. Why Foxconn would not remove one or the other is beyond me as it could potentially confuse a first time builder, or someone with little experience. On the positive side, this board comes in with some solid stock performance and a pretty good price tag. If you’re in the market for an i915P motherboard and are looking for stability, and performance at default settings, this could be what you’re looking for. Otherwise, you’ll want to look elsewhere, especially if you want more than a 10% overclocking for all the green you spent upgrading to the new platform.