915 Motherboard Roundup: Socket 775 for the Rest of Usby Wesley Fink on December 7, 2004 12:25 AM EST
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Intel launched the new Pentium 4 Socket 775 processors and the 925X/915 chipsets to support them on June 19th. Since that time, the demand for the new Intel motherboards has been underwhelming, to say the least. The new Intel architecture launched many new technologies and features to the market. We explored these new features in the launch reviews: Intel 925X/915: Chipset Performance & DDR2 and Intel's 925X & LGA-775: Are Prescott 3.6 and PCI Express Graphics any Faster? The bigger issue, though, is that the Intel 925X/915 didn't also bring with them a compelling reason for users to embrace the new socket or the new features.
The new 775 processors just weren't any faster than the Socket 478 CPUs most owned already. So for the same performance, users would need a new processor on a new motherboard, new DDR2 memory, a new heatsink/fan, a new PCI Express video card to replace their AGP video card, and (most likely) a new power supply with a 24-pin power connector. For this, they get about the same performance with a hotter-running 90nm CPU that has developed a reputation for throttling unless the HSF and thermal compound is exactly right. Unless manufacturers found ways around the design issues with 925X/915, buyers also found that they were moving from the best overclocking platform in the Socket 478 to a limited OC solution in Socket T. Fortunately, many manufacturers found ways around this issue. However, you will see in this roundup that there are still manufacturers who did not make revisions to get around the 10% Overclock limit.
As a result of all this, we have not looked any further at Socket T after our initial run at the top 925X boards in Intel 925X Roundup: Creative Engineering 101. Now, some 6 months later, there are market developments that make it worthwhile to look at mainstream 915 boards. The most important of these is that Intel is tightening supplies of 865/875 chipsets to move buyers to the new socket. Manufacturers are finding it more difficult to find 865/875 chipsets to buy, or in some cases, they must buy a Socket T chipset with every 865/875 chipset that Intel will sell them. The time is coming when your only choice from Intel will be one of the new 915/925X boards. We also found that the variation in performance among new 915 boards is much greater than what we have seen in any recent chipset, so it is time for a little guidance on what performs best. If the only choice is 915, you need to know how the huge selection of Socket T boards will actually perform in a head-to-head comparison.