Albatron PX915G Pro - Page 8

..:: PX915G Pro Review Conclusion ::..

Well, we’ve seen all that Albatron has to offer with their i915G offering, the PX915G Pro. This motherboard offered up a pretty decent feature set given the market it is going to be aimed at. Initially, we were concerned about system stability on the “Prescott” core processors due to their power draw as the PX915G Pro only features a three-phase power delivery scheme. Throughout our testing, we did not experience any stability problems that weren’t caused by our own mischief, also known as overclocking too far. The stability of the PX915G Pro at both stock and overclocked levels was right in line with the previous motherboards we’ve review, solid as a rock.

The PX915G Pro’s package has a strong point or two points, as well as weak points. From a hardware item standpoint, we were a bit disappointed at the lack of some minor items such additional SATA data / power cables, especially given that the ICH6 Southbridge now supports four Serial ATA devices. In the past, manufacturers could get away with supplying only one cable, but now I’d like to see at lease two included with the product packages. These are items won’t really cause the end price to skyrocket, so I would’ve liked to see those included to make the PX915G Pro a better bang for the buck. The documentation that Albatron has included on the other hand is superb. All of the various inclusions that Albatron has chosen to make provide a well rounded and detailed look at the capabilities and layout of the PX915G Pro and will make even a first time builder’s life a little easier.

One fact is clear when you take an overall look at the PX915G Pro’s PCB, that fact is that it is readily obvious Albatron put some serious thought into the layout of the system components. Virtually every item that we look for as far as determining design quality goes, Albatron has successfully implemented into the PX815G Pro. Even when we factor in the small things that weren’t done due to design constraints, we still find an excellent motherboard. Unlike many manufacturers, Albatron has not thrown the floppy connector down to the bottom of the PCB, rather they have left it near the ATX power connection higher up on the board. This greatly helps airflow into the case, and over the graphics card, RAM, and processor. RAM can also be added and removed without having to remove the PCI-Express graphics card, a problem that we’ve already seen on some i925X / i915P/G motherboards. Overall, Albatron has done an excellent job with the PX915G Pro’s design.

The 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, this isn’t the best idea with the PX915G Pro.

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!

In the end, Albatron has brought a solid i915G motherboard to the market with their PX915G Pro. Given that this board features integrated video (which we’ll be covering more in depth as we test more i915G motherboards), it isn’t going to be the primary choice for the overclocking and enthusiast community. This board offers up all that is needed for the market it is targeted at, though I wish Albatron would include some extra items in with their packaging. Albatron offers up superior documentation with all of their products, but sometimes the package can be lacking, i.e. the PX915G Pro only comes with one Serial ATA data cable. The main strength of the PX915G Pro is its solid performance, and excellent design. The downsides though, fall under overclocking and BIOS tweaks. Although there are enough tweaks to please most users, high-performance users looking for an i915G option might want to look at other options first if memory adjustments are a requirement. The PX915G Pro also requires a high Northbridge voltage to attain high-end overclocking speeds, something that will only add serious heat to your system, and at 65C, lower the lifespan of your system should it be run under stressful situations. I suspect this board will run in the $140 range as are most i915G motherboard at this time. As we’ve yet to cover competing boards, I’ll leave he conclusion up to you. We’ll be comparing this board against Foxconn’s i915P and i915G boards soon, and we’ll then be able to further evaluate where it stands in the grand scheme of things. For now, it looks to be a solid board worthy of any use; it just might fall short on requirements for overclockers and performance gurus.