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Intel 915P Shootout : Foxconn 915A01-P-8EKRS
By Zachary Chan
Category : Mainboard
Published by Vijay Anand on Tuesday, 8th February, 2005

Foxconn 915A01-P-8EKRS (The Good)

Foxconn may not be a top tier motherboard manufacturer, but the 915A01-P-8EKRS turns out to be a well designed motherboard with the correct considerations given. At a glance, we can tell that the 915A01-P-8EKRS was designed to be fully featured, but not feature filled. What this means is that the board comes with support for the whole range of basic features, but doesn't necessarily mean that all the features support the latest technologies. Foxconn tries to maintain a level of standard that even some of the better branded boards cannot boast.

First off, the 915A01-P-8EKRS doesn't skimp on chipset choice. Foxconn pairs the 915P Express with the ICH6R SouthBridge to enable native SATA RAID support with Intel's Matrix Storage Technology. While the 915A01-P-8EKRS is the high end motherboard in Foxconn's line-up, we find that their entire range of 915P Express motherboards also sport the ICH6R. This has been a choice that we find most manufacturers leave out, even with higher end motherboard models. The 915A01-P-8EKRS also supports DDR2 memory instead of DDR, since Foxconn targets the board for a more upper class bracket.

This Intel FW82801FR is actually the ICH6R SouthBridge. The motherboard doesn't cover it with a heatsink, but there are hooks available to install one yourself.

Four SATA connectors can also be used to setup a RAID 1 or RAID 0 array.

Foxconn has also decided to fit in seven expansion slots onto the board, which inadvertently eats up half the PCB. However, they have still managed to squeeze in what one would consider as an ideal layout design for the bulk of the components. DIMM slots are placed slightly off the corners to make space for the ATX power connector plus both primary IDE and floppy connectors. This is a feature of the 915A01-P-8EKRS that must be applauded, since most motherboards similarly fighting for space will tend to compromise by moving one or all of these components to other areas.

3 PCI slots, 3 PCIe x1 slots and a PCIe x16 slot for graphics cards.

Foxconn manages to squeeze all three components (IDE, floppy and ATX power) into the upper corner of the board.

FireWire support is covered by utilizing VIA's VT6307 controller. A popular choice among motherboard manufacturers to enable basic IEEE 1394a capabilities. The VT6307 supports two ports, one of which is provided in the rear panel while another can be accessed through an optional bracket. The board comes with the now standard Gigabit Ethernet support, and Foxconn again chooses the more popular and cost effective solution with Realtek's RTL8110S-32 PCI based controller.

VIA VT6307 2-port FireWire controller. Supports IEEE 1394a standard for speeds up to 400Mbps.

The Realtek RTL8110S-32 provides Gigabit Ehternet capabilities on a PCI bus.

While Foxconn chose mainstream parts for both connectivity functions, we were quite pleased that they have decided to feature an actual Azalia compliant audio CODEC. Using a Realtek ALC880, the 915A01-P-8EKRS would be capable of 8-channel surround sound with HD Audio quality. Though the rear panel doesn't feature it, Foxconn has also provided a bracket with coaxial S/PDIF Out.

Foxconn delivers HD Audio with Realtek's ALC880 CODEC.

Extra USB ports are provided as well as a singular coaxial S/DPIF output port.

Rear panel of the 915A01-P-8EKRS is pretty much a standard affair with ports for USB, FireWire, LAN and surround audio. No prizes for guessing that they're all Foxconn parts.

The packaging is also better than most, as the 915A01-P-8EKRS seem to be striking middle ground. Besides the S/PDIF bracket, they provide an additional bracket with two extra USB ports. The driver CD proved to be an interesting find. Foxconn has bundled Norton's Internet Security 2004 in the CD as well as their set of SuperUtility tools. SuperUtility combines a set of Windows based tools for overclocking, system monitoring, and even a POST logo customization application called SuperLogo. These utilities are not much different from the proprietary applications bundled by other motherboards, but the 915A01-P-8EKRS does come with some truly unique 'Super' features built into the BIOS itself. Of these, the following are the most noteworthy:-

SuperBIOS-Protect – This option basically enables preventive measures that protect the BIOS from being overwritten or damaged, either accidentally or maliciously through viral infections.

SuperBoot – SuperBoot speeds up system boot-up time by bypassing POST initialization and checks on every reboot. If this option is enabled, the BIOS will store the parameters of the POST and then automatically use the same for each consecutive boot. This entails to near instantaneous PC boot-up. If an error occurs, or if BIOS parameters are changed, SuperBoot should be able to detect it and allow a regular POST to happen so it can refresh its settings. This technique is similar to memory prefetch routines used by software applications to start up faster. Windows XP also implements such prefetch options, but we all know how well that works.

SuperRecovery – This option creates a hidden partition on your hard disk drive that acts as a backup for system recovery. This sort of recovery features are usually found in notebooks with customized software. Even then, they are limited by function. We are quite impressed that Foxconn has included such a function into a consumer motherboard.

SuperSpeed – SuperSpeed is the overclocking arm of the BIOS and the following settings are available to the Foxconn 915A01-P-8EKRS:-

  • FSB Settings: 200MHz to 350MHz
  • PCIe Frequency: 100MHz to 200MHz
  • RAM Frequency: DDR333, DDR400
  • CPU Voltage Settings: -0.0125 to +0.1875V (in 0.0125V steps)
  • Memory Voltage Settings: +0.03V, +0.06V, +0.10V
  • Chipset Voltage Settings: +0.03V, +0.06V, +0.10V
  • Multiplier Selection: Yes (unlocked CPUs only)

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