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Albatron PX915G Pro Albatron PX915G Pro: If you're looking for a price efficient way into the 915 and LGA775 world, this Albatron board could be an option.
Date: October 6, 2004
Manufacturer:
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    PCI Express, the PCI technology of the future for computers.  As such Intel has decided to make a drastic change on their motherboards.  Gone is the AGP interface, yet the PCI interface still remains, also gone for the most part is DDR memory replaced by DDR2.  The suddenness of this change took many people by surprise, as they would no longer be able to use their prized AGP video cards if they wanted to upgrade to the new socket 775 processors.

    Intel released a couple of different chipsets to support these new standards, first there is the 925X chipset which is the top of the line, much like the 875P was/is; then there is the 915P chipset, which is placed similar to the 865PE chipset; and lastly there is the 915G chipset, which is the 915P with integrated graphics much like the 865G chipset.  For a little more info on the various chipsets, look at Hubert's primer on them.  Some of the original chipsets had to be recalled by Intel due to problems with them, but that should now be resolved.

    Albatron is a company we here at Viperlair have dealt with previously both with a few motherboards and also a few video cards.  For the most part the quality of the pieces has been fairly good, and provided good performance for the money. With Intel processor based motherboards, they have continuously used Intel chipsets, so its no surprise that the new socket 775 boards they have are based on the new chipsets. 

Albatron PX915G Pro

    Albatron decided to ship us the 915G based motherboard, so this board comes with integrated video, which we will look at as well.  So what did Albatron provide with this motherboard, is it a small bundle or something more substantial.  Lets look at a couple of pictures to find out.

    Now here is an itemized list of what you get:

  • Motherboard
  • Motherboard and RAID manuals
  • 4 port USB back plate
  • 1 SATA drive cable
  • 1 SATA power cable
  • Driver CD
  • Quick Install Guides Motherboard and CPU
  • 3 * 80 pin IDE cables
  • Floppy cable
  • Back plate

    We see that Albatron has supplied us with more than enough IDE cables, as every available IDE port has a cable to use.  However when we look at the four SATA headers on the motherboard, and the single SATA cable included it strikes us as rather odd.  My suggestion here to Albatron take one or two IDE cables out and put a couple more SATA cables in, as they are still not as prevalent as IDE cables are.  Otherwise the package is pretty well thought out, as all the USB ports are covered with the included back plate.  The manuals are pretty good, with all things being covered pretty well, in multiple languages, and the quick install guide making the process easier.

    One of the main arrivals with the new Intel chipsets is shown in the picture above this.  The PCI Express slots, of which there are two types in this system, giving us a 1/2/3 (PCI Express x16/PCI Express x1/PCI) configuration.  The x1 slots are shorter than the older PCI slots, which allows manufacturers to put a couple more chips in that area, so that the rest of the board isn't as crowded.  

    Now we move to the bottom part of the board, where the IDE ports are located.  First up is the Intel based ports, which is the red IDE port and all of the SATA ports, of which there are four.  The other controller is the which provides RAID 0/1 functions to the extra two (yellow) IDE ports located on the board.  This brings the total number of drives that you can use to ten, with four of them being SATA drives and the other six being IDE devices.

    The memory slots, one of the rather important aspects of the motherboard.  The 915 series supports DDR-II memory, but it also supports good old DDR(-I) memory as well.  Albatron has chosen to use the old but still more available DDR interface for this particular board, which is very nice in my opinion.  This allows you to only have to upgrade three pieces instead of the possible fourth which can be somewhat expensive.  Looking now at the backplate for the motherboard, we see that there is very little that is similar to the old ATX standard backplate, except for the PS/2 connectors.  Looking to the right of those, we see the lone serial port, the parallel printer connector, and the VGA out port.  Then we reach a block of 1/8" outputs which are for the 8 channel audio that this system has.  Lastly there are two seemingly identical blocks, with two USB connectors and a network port.  The only difference is that the network connector on the left is the 10/100 connector and the right is the Gigabit connector.

    Here are the two NIC controllers that control the two network ports that we saw on the backplate of the system.  First is the chip which provides the basic 10/100 features of the VT6105 while being put in a small package specifically for integrating onto motherboards.  Next is the chip, which provides the gigabit networking on the motherboard.  The downside of this particular controller is that it is still based on the PCI bus, which means that it is sharing the bandwidth, all of which it needs for gigabit transfers, with the IDE hard drives, and anything in the PCI slots.  I would have preferred to see the newer 88E8050 PCI Express chip instead, as it would have an independent 1Gbps to use, much like the CSA gigabit NIC on some 875P and 865 based boards.

    Lets now look at three other controller chips.  First is the sound CODEC which helps supply the sound for the HD audio Intel has implemented in the 915 and 925 based boards.  This provides 7.1 support, at what should be pretty good quality especially for a onboard sound card, we will look at that later.  Next is the ICH6 which has an SL spec of SL7AG, which means that it is a ICH6 with no RAID or wireless capabilities.  All IDE based devices, the sound chip, and PCI devices all run off of this hub.  Next is the MCH, which has an SL spec of SL7LX which shows it to be the 915G chipset.  This, as we mentioned previously supports both DDR-I and DDR-II memory, has an integrated graphics chip running at 333MHz (which we will look at in another article), a x16 PCI Express port, and supports dual channel memory and uses the LGA775 socket.

    The heatsinks of this system are something to consider as well.  Yes heatsinks, as both the MCH and the ICH have heatsinks on them, something that hasn't shown up much previously, except on a few overclocking boards.  Both heatsinks are bonded using thermal pads, which I personally hate, and would prefer to see thermal paste instead.  Neither heatsink has a fan on it, helping to keep things quieter.  The MCH heatsink is bigger than its the ICH's heatsink, and uses four hooks to hold the heatsink down.  The ICH's heatsink is more reminiscent of the older MCH heatsinks used on the 865PE series of boards, and uses two hooks to hold the heatsink down.

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