915P Chipset Roundup: ABIT AG8, ASUS P5GD2 Premium, and Foxconn 915A01-P
Foxconn's 915A01-P BIOS & Software
It shouldn't come as any surprise that the Foxconn board sports a relatively simple BIOS utility without much flair. After all, the 915A01-P seems very oriented toward system builders who need to save money and don't necessarily want their customers experimenting with bells and whistles that might cause more damage than good.
The 915A01-P's BIOS doesn't offer any special technologies for reducing latency. It doesn't even break Intel's overclocking lock. (We were only able to hit a 10MHz frontside bus overclock before the board got squirrelly on us.) However, it does offer the basics: boot priority options, some memory latency selection, a setting to turn your PCIe x16 slot into an x1 slot, and the switches to enable or disable integrated peripheral devices.
The few unique features that Foxconn does offer include a SuperBoot feature to accelerate the boot-up process; SuperBIOS-Protect to prevent the BIOS from being overwritten either maliciously or accidentally; SuperRecovery, used to recover from fatal errors; and SuperSpeed, an overclocking screen that performs the same function as the Frequency/Voltage Control menu. Foxconn does deliver access into frontside bus, multiplier, and processor voltage settings, but that's about the extent of the 915A01-P's enthusiast features.
Like ABIT, ASUS offers quite a bit of flexibility in its BIOS features. For example, the P5GD2 Premium features memory voltages between 1.8V and 2.1V in .1V increments to reflect the board's DDR2 memory support. Moreover, it features chipset voltages of either 1.5V or 1.6V and processor voltages between 1.525 and 1.7V in .0125V increments.
Foxconn SuperStep & NAV
Foxconn's bundle is modest – almost an expectation at the board's aggressive price point. Even still, there are a couple of software utilities that merit some attention. The first is Foxconn's own dynamic overclocking application called SuperStep. The application is capable of, most notably, making real-time frontside bus frequency adjustments in Windows. However, it also monitors fan speeds, relevant voltages, and temperatures, in addition to boasting an alarm function that alerts you when any of the monitored parameters fall out of bounds.
The other bundled app is Norton Internet Security 2004, which is a popular software firewall and antivirus suite, despite its knack for causing the occasional problem. Unfortunately, the version that shipped with our 915A01-P had an expiration date of 11/2/04, meaning it'd require a paid renewal just three months after installation. How's that for tricky?