i915G and i925X Hardware Showcase
Intel's motherboard offerings, although sometimes a bit too tame for the enthusiast set, typically offer a well rounded feature-set and have superb build quality and stability. This time around, with the new i915G/P and i925X chipsets, Intel took the opportunity to flesh out some not-so tame features as well, like High Def Audio and Intel Matrix SATA RAID. Here's a quick take.
Intel D915GUX Motherboard
Obviously these motherboards adhere to the ATX form factor, rather than the new emerging BTX standard. In the interest of time, we're not going to delve into the BTX standard. We'll have more on that in the months ahead. For now, let's look at a few of the obvious changes brought about by the new LGA775 architecture and PCI Express technology.
Intel D925XCV Motherboard
Intel's new power array design uses significantly lower profile MOSFETs, VREGs and supporting components. They also seemingly produced less heat, as we noted in our testing. Moreover, the power array supports VRD 10 specifications and all the increased power capacity requirements for Prescott core processors. All told it looks like the design area around and supporting the new LGA775 socket, is significantly more elegant versus legacy socket 478 designs.
Another notable here obviously, is the long X16 PCI Express Graphics slot and the tiny looking X1 PCI Express expansion slots. Perhaps things look a little sparse here to you in terms of expansion slots but with all the integration going into these new i915 and i925X designs, it's hard to fathom the need for more than a couple PCI or PCI Express slots in the future.
Power and Cooling
There are also new power supply specifications for these next generation boards. There's the new 6 pin power connector for graphics cards now, which will provided dedicated clean power lines direct to the graphics cards. Also, you'll note the new 2X12 ATX12V power connector on the above power supply unit, which will provide additional power and ground lines to support upcoming high end PCI Express graphics cards and other power hungry components in the system. The new PCI Express Graphics standard calls for 75 Watts of support direct in the slot. However, Intel is also charging power supply OEMs to produce more efficient PSUs. Recommended minimum efficiency figures are 75%, 80% and 68% for "Full", "Typical" and "Light" conditions respectively.
Also, the stock sink that Intel included in their launch kit is a hefty beast to be sure. It includes a 4 pin power connector, which provides power, ground, monitoring, and speed adjustment, as is supported in next generation health monitoring functions in the BIOS. This particular fan-sink cranks up to at least 5K RPM at start up, for just a second and then throttles down to a stealthy 2K RPM during all our hours of testing, even with the new P4 560 3.6GHz Prescott in the socket.