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Intel 915P Shootout : AOpen i915Pa-EFRII
By Zachary Chan
Category : Mainboard
Published by Vijay Anand on Monday, 24th January, 2005

AOpen i915Pa-EFRII (The Good)

AOpen comes across as a very business like, no-nonsense manufacturer when it comes to motherboard design and marketing. The i915Pa-EFRII employs AOpen's standard sexy black PCB design. This time around, they have begun to employ bolder color combos though AOpen would prefer to call it their EzColor Color Coding System. As far as 915P Express boards are concerned, you should be familiar with the standard features by now. So what additional features are available that makes the i915Pa-EFRII their flagship model? For one, the board supports the more costly DDR2 interface rather than DDR only.

Color coded expansion slots with a standard mix of PCI and PCIe.

It is now common for boards to have standard coolling for both the NorthBridge and SouthBridge chips.

In terms of storage, the i915Pa-EFRII is supplemented by a Promise RAID controller chip , which adds an Ultra ATA port and two extra SATA connectors as well. With the additional controller, the i915Pa-EFRII supports four PATA devices and 6 SATA drives in total. Don't forget that you can setup simple RAID arrays as well.

Promise RAID controller providing the i915Pa-EFRII with extra IDE and SATA connectors.

Primary IDE connector (blue) and a secondary one (yellow) provided by the additional Promise RAID controller.

With the onboard Promise controller, SATA capabilities have expanded to support a total of six devices.

The i915Pa-EFRII is also the first board we've come across in our shootout with PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet, integrating a Broadcom NetXtreme single-chip controller. While other manufacturers seem content with offering PCI based solutions, AOpen takes no such liberties, at least not with their top-of-the-line board. With LAN and USB covered, the i915Pa-EFRII also has onboard FireWire support in the form of a Texas Instruments 2-port IEEE 1394a controller. Both ports are available through a bundled bracket.

Broadcom's PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller.

This simple chip is the Texas Instrument IEEE 1394a controller.

The i915Pa-EFRII sports AOpen's DieHard BIOS feature. What you have is basically a two BIOS chips forming a redundant backup system. If your primary BIOS fails or dies for whatever reason (virus attacks or overclocking boo-boos), you can recover from the backup BIOS. This secondary BIOS is hardware protected through a motherboard jumper, so it isn't susceptible to damage.

Two BIOS chips form AOpen's DieHard BIOS recovery feature.

A manual jumper is needed to swith between primary and secondary DieHard BIOS chips. This provides additional security to the BIOS.

Lastly, the bundled components of the i915Pa-EFRII are pretty sufficient, with enough accessories to get you started. AOpen provides two SATA data cables and power converters, which is just nice to let you have a taste of SATA RAID. Two IDE cables are provided, though both are of a different variety. One of the cable is an 80-pin (used for Ultra ATA 66/100/133 hard disks) and the other is a 40-pin cable (for optical drives). While both cables will fit into any IDE connector, using a 40-pin cable on an Ultra ATA 100 hard disk will only mean lowered performance of 33MB/s max. Thankfully, AOpen has labeled each of the cables respectively. The bundle also includes two brackets for extra USB 2.0 ports and IEEE 1394. The only thing lacking is a bracket offering S/PDIF. The items that stand out within the packaging are the extensive user manuals and guides, fully colored with graphical representation and interpretation from all stages of assemply and installation. Marvelous.

Standard rear panel with 8-channel surround audio, four USB 2.0 and a LAN port.

Two brackets for extra USB 2.0, IEEE 1394 and even a Game Port.

Cables are clearly labeled, with text and graphical help.

The following overclocking options are available for the AOpen i915Pa-EFRII:-

  • FSB Settings: 100MHz to 400MHz
  • PCI Speed: 33.33MHz, 66.36MHz, 40.00MHz
  • RAM Frequency: DDR333, DDR400, DDR533
  • CPU Voltage Settings: 0.8375-1.600V (in 0.0125V steps)
  • Memory Voltage Settings: 1.900-1.950V (in 0.05V steps)
  • Chipset Voltage Settings: 1.500-1.650V (in 0.05V steps)
  • Multiplier Selection: Yes (unlocked CPUs only)

    Tested & Certified Components
    Graphics Card MSI RX600XT-TD128
    Memory 2 x 512MB Kingston DDR2-533
    Power Supply Unit AcBel 400W (API4PC01)
    Cooler CoolerMaster CI5-9HDPA-01
    Hard Disk Maxtor DiamondMax 10 200GB SATA
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