Albatron PX915G Pro - Page 6

..:: PX915G Pro System BIOS ::..

As far as the PX915G Pro’s BIOS goes, Albatron has opted to go with a Phoenix Award BIOS setup, a setup that is more familiar in the OEM world than what we normally come across here in the enthusiast community. This BIOS setup is also common on Intel brand motherboards, which are, of course, geared more towards the mid-range consumer than an enthusiast. When the BIOS is initially entered into, there is a horizontal selection of menus ranging from the standard “Main” where simple selections are shown, to “Defaults” which allows for selection of setting to Normal of performance settings. These settings are similar, if not identical, to what we see in other BIOS’ only presented in a new way.

The first menu that we’ll be diving into is labeled as “Advanced”. Upon entering this menu, we find a wide array of settings as well as four submenus available. The top setting selections are typical of this portion of the BIOS, as they control both boot order and boot priority for the given devices. There are four available submenus, each covering one specific aspect of the PX915G Pro’s capabilities. These submenus are labeled “Advanced BIOS Features”, “Advanced Chipset Features”, “PnP/PCI Configurations”, and “Frequency/Voltage Control”.

Within the BIOS feature submenu, we find that here the user is given the option to enable an array of options for the PX915G Pro. Some of these options are whether to enable or disable the on die L1 & L2 Cache, Hyper-Threading Technology, Quick POST, and HDD S.M.A.R.T. capabilities. The Advanced Chipset Features submenu houses all of the important memory timing options. While Albatron allows for the standard memory timings to be manually adjusted, there are no other tweaking options available that would make the PX915G Pro a standout for tweaking options. Albatron offers the standard CAS, RAS to CAS, RAS to Precharge, and Precharge timing selections.

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 certainly be home to the overclocker and performance enthusiast. Starting off from the top, we see that Albatron has allowed for fixed PCI and PCI-Express clocks. I wouldn’t suggest toying too much with the PCI-Express lock as we’ve heard of problems being brought about due to a locked bus speed. Below, we find the option to determine the system memory speed, whether that be DDR333 or DDR400, depending on your RAM of use. Towards the bottom, we see the options to adjust the FSB and Multiplier, though virtually all of you out there besides those that manage to get hold of an unlocked chip will not be able to use this Multiplier option.

Located in the block below these items relating to frequency settings, we find all of the voltage adjustments that Albatron has made available. Albatron offers a solid range of preset speeds for each of the busses. The DRAM can be adjust up to +.4V in .1V increments, while the Northbridge voltage can also rise a maximum of +.3V, in .1V increments. Albatron offers an incredible range of VCore options, but beware, if you undervolt your processor, do NOT set the system to the voltage you’d like, set it roughly .5V higher than you’d like to obtain the proper voltage.

Next up, we have the Peripherals menu. I can’t really address this menu all that much as it is self explanatory. The peripherals menu houses all of the options to control enabling or disabling integrated devices such as LAN, Audio, Serial Ports, Parallel Ports, and on the occasion the kitchen sink as well. Okay, maybe not quite that much but you get the point. If you wish to enable or disable any feature of the PX915G Pro, this is where you’ll need to head in order to do so. Sound good? Let’s move on.

The last menu that we’ll be covering is yet another window that really need no introduction, that being the HW Monitor menu. This menu has two options available for a warning signal when the case has been opened, and another for the CPU FAN temperature. This window shows off the various temperature readings given by the motherboard, as well as fan RPM and voltage readings. With the PX875P Pro, we found the onboard readings to be way off as they virtually never changed, however Albatron has improved this with the PX915G Pro which appears far more accurate for readings.

Overall, the Albatron PX915G Pro ships with a solid BIOS, excelling in some aspects, while in others it is a bit dry. We really didn’t find many more advanced options for memory tweaks, the only other option besides lowering the timings was upping the Northbridge voltage to get more MHz on the FSB. Albatron has come a long way since the PX875P Pro with their voltage offerings, especially for the VCore. The PX875P Pro really disappointed us when it came to the limited overclocking options, but the PX915G Pro is excellent in this aspect. I was happy to see options to control the PCI and PCI-Express bus speeds, but over the past few weeks we’ve seen manufacturers remove the PCI-Express option because of reported problems with overclocking and stability on a set PCI-Express bus. Albatron also offers a nice range for upping the Northbridge voltage, although as you’ll soon hear about, this isn’t the best idea with the PX915G Pro.

..:: PX915G Pro Overclocking ::..

Our overclocking experiences with the Albatron PX915G Pro were mixed. At the default Northbridge voltage, we were only able to obtain a stable overclock in the area of 235MHz for the FSB. This is a far cry from where we’ve seen other manufacturers take their boards on a stock voltage. As we slowly upped the voltage though, we were able to attain higher speed settings for the FSB, but at a serious cost. We were able to hit 252MHz FSB with the PX915G Pro, but only when we had the Northbridge set to +.3V. We already have discussed the temperature at which the passively cooled heatsink runs, but it’s even worse with +.3V. This might not seem like much, but it’s a 20% increase in voltage over the standard application. We took out our external temperature gauge and found that near the core, the Northbridge heatsink was hitting 65C! Clearly, if you need to run at this high a voltage and temperature to attain a solid overclock, you need to re-think what you’re doing. Adding on .1V to the NB allowed for a 240MHz FSB, and adding .2V allowed for a 246MHz FSB. Whether or not you’re willing to deal with the heat is a different story, but if you plan on buying this board and overclocking, get some cool air flowing over that Northbridge pronto!