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Intel 915P Shootout : AOpen i915Pa-PLF
By Zachary Chan
Category : Mainboard
Published by Vijay Anand on Thursday, 27th January, 2005

AOpen i915Pa-PLF (The Good)

With the i915Pa-PLF, AOpen introduces Power Master, their very own dynamic overclocking feature. All the first-tier motherboard manufacturers have already showcased similar technologies, such as ASUS's AI NOS, MSI's D.O.T. or Gigabyte's C.I.A. Following a similar trend comes AOpen's Power Master feature. Power Master works by detecting actual CPU loads and acts depending on the selected profile. Within the BIOS, you can select four preset modes (Performance, Normal, Automatic and Silent), which determine the amount of FSB overclocking is done. Power Master also includes smart fan control and CPU throttling. In event of low CPU usage, Power Master will lower FSB and fan speeds to discrete settings, saving power and quite possibly CPU lifespan. From the limited time during our tests, the function worked decently in the background. In the event of low CPU utilization such as office productivity or web surfing, you should not notice the lowered speeds. Note that we disable these functions during benchmark tests.

The i915Pa-PLF also uses the ICH6 SouthBridge. As a budget board, there is no heatsink to cool the SouthBridge chip.

Besides the Power Master feature, the rest of i915Pa-PLF looks like a massive downsizing activity. AOpen continues to use the lower end ICH6 SouthBridge, but this time round, they even removed the passive heatsink found in the previous two boards. Memory support is DDR only as expected. For audio capabilities, the i915Pa-PLF still features an 8-channel audio CODEC. However, the Realtek ALC850 is a generic AC'97 CODEC and not HD Audio compatible. This means that you get 8-channel audio but no Azalia features like Dolby Digital Live encoding. At the very least, 8-channel surround audio is still better than a 6-channel solution found on boards such as the ABIT AG8.

Realtek ALC850 AC'97 surround audio. Still 8-channels, but no HD Audio.

The i915Pa-PLF sees the return of FireWire support using an Agere FW3226-100 2-port single chip controller. It is interesting that AOpen removed this feature in the i915Pa-E, but re-introduced it back in a much lower class product. Gigabit LAN is still here to stay, although it has gone through the same downgrading as other components. As expected, the GbE iteration on the i915Pa-PLF is a Realtek RTL8110S-32 PCI chip instead of PCI Express.

Agere FW3226-100 2-port IEEE 1394a controller.

Realtek RTL8110S-32 PCI Gigabit LAN controller.

Among the other basic features, there is a special connector on the bottom left side of the board called a Black Jack connector. We have been trying to find out what this mini 23-pin connector actually does, but the mystery eludes us. You would probably have to wait for the retail product to find out.

Black Jack connector? We hadn't a clue either at the time of testing this product. If you are curious, do look out for the manual of the retail units to find out!

Rear panel of the i915Pa-PLF.

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

  • FSB Settings: 100MHz to 400MHz
  • PCI Speed: 33.33MHz, 67.7MHz, 44.00MHz
  • RAM Frequency: DDR333, DDR400
  • CPU Voltage Settings: 0.8375-1.600V (in 0.0125V steps)
  • Memory Voltage Settings: 2.60-2.95V (in 0.05V steps)
  • Chipset Voltage Settings: 1.500-1.675V (in 0.025V steps)
  • Power Master Settings: Performance, Normal, Automatic, Silent
  • Multiplier Selection: Yes (unlocked CPUs only)

    915P Tested and Certified
    Tested & Certified Components
    Graphics Card MSI RX600XT-TD128
    Memory 2 x 512MB Kingston DDR-400
    Power Supply Unit AcBel 400W (API4PC01)
    Cooler CoolerMaster CI5-9HDPA-01
    Hard Disk Maxtor DiamondMax 10 200GB SATA
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