iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






PCChips M985G — a Budget Solution on Intel 915GV from PCChips Supporting Two Memory Types

  • Intel 915GV chipset (Intel 915GV Northbridge and ICH6 Southbridge)

Almost a year has passed since we reviewed the last motherboard on Intel 915P/G. But it does not mean that motherboards on a chipset from this series are outdated. On the contrary, it's a good choice, if you are pressed for money, because such motherboards are cheaper than top models on i925X/XE-945P/G/955X chipsets, but they still support PCIE and DDR2, which makes upgrading to the new standards a tad cheaper. Today we are going to review one of such budget solutions.

You shouldn't expect anything extraordinary from the model under review. It's just a budget solution - with its functionality limited to minimum. In fact, it can only boast of a network controller, based on the Realtek RTL8100C chip, and an audio controller, based on AC'97 codec Realtek (Avance Logic) ALC655. Everything is quite standard. But the main advantage of this motherboard is its support for two memory types and a low price. It's all crystal clear about the latter, as PCChips specializes in inexpensive models. Thus, the price for this model cannot be high. What concerns the support for two memory types, it remains a topical issue, as the transitional period from DDR to DDR2 is at full swing and not all users want to spend their budget on memory, having paid for an Intel Socket 775 processor and a PCIE video card.

We can say nothing bad about the layout. It's a microATX motherboard - there is nothing surprising about it, considering its functions. It should be mentioned that all (just a few) ports and connectors are conveniently arranged on the board. We had no problems assembling the system. Access to the jumpers is not hampered, when the motherboard is installed into a PC case. Their brief descriptions are provided on the PCB.

The 4-phase switching voltage regulator of the processor incorporates eight 1800 uF capacitors and three 820 uF ones. The board also contains a voltage regulator for memory (twelve 1000 uF capacitors reinforced with L-elements). In general, critical circuits incorporate electrolytic capacitors from Ost. PCB dimensions - 245x245 mm (standard microATX, the board is firmly mounted with eight screws).

System monitoring (Winbond W83627THF, according to BIOS Setup)

  • Processor, chipset, memory voltages, and +3.3 V
  • RPM of 3 fans
  • CPU temperature (by the embedded CPU sensor)
  • Board temperature (by the on-board sensor)

Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors

  • Processor socket (Socket 775, it claims to support the following processors: Intel Celeron D (330—352) and Intel Pentium 4 (505—660));
  • 2 x DDR (DDR266/333/400 without ECC) SDRAM DIMM and 2 x DDR2 (DDR2-400/533/667 without ECC) SDRAM DIMM (up to 2 GB in total; you cannot install DDR and DDR2 modules simultaneously; Supports dual channel mode, the total memory capacity in both channels must be the same — for example, 256/256 or 256+256/512)
  • PCIEx16 for video accelerators
  • PCIE x1
  • 2 x PCI
  • CNR slot (Communications and Networking Riser) for various expansion cards: network cards, modems, and sound cards
  • Power connectors: standard ATX 2.2 (24 pins, you can connect a regular 20-pin connector, but in this case it's not recommended to use powerful up-to-date componentry like top PCIE video cards) and 4-pin ATX12V for a processor
  • 1 x FDD
  • IDE (Parallel ATA), chipset-based, for a single Ultra DMA 100/66/33 device
  • 4 x SATA (Serial ATA) for 4 x SATA150 devices — all of them are chipset-based
  • 2 connectors for brackets with 4 additional USB (2.0) ports
  • 1 x standard IrDA connector
  • 1 x CD/DVD audio connector
  • S/PDIF-Out
  • Connectors for analog audio ins and outs on the front panel
  • 3 x fan headers (all with RPM control)

Back panel (left to right, blockwise)

Click the image to open the rear view of this motherboard
  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard
  • 1 x LPT, 1 x COM, 1 x VGA (D-Sub)
  • 2 x USB
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Fast Ethernet)
  • 3 x Analog Audio (Mic-In, Line-In, Front).

Package Contents

  • Package: unfortunately, we cannot publish a photo of the box, as we got this model in a regular white box without any insignia
  • Documentation: User's Guide in English
  • Cables:
    • ATA 66/100/133 (gray)
    • FDD (gray)
    • Serial ATA
    • SATA power converter for a single device

  • Rear I/O shield
  • CD with drivers

Integrated Controllers

  • Audio, based on the AC'97 codec Realtek (Avance Logic) ALC655, supporting 5.1 surround sound audio with front line-in/out and S/PDIF-Out jacks
  • Network, based on the Realtek RTL8100C chip, supporting 10/100 Mbit/s (Fast Ethernet)

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16bit, 44 kHz using the RightMark Audio Analyzer 5.5 test application and the Terratec DMX 6fire sound card:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB:
+0,33, -0,25
Noise level, dB (A):
Dynamic range, dB (A):
THD, %:
Intermodulation distortion + Noise, %:
Channel crosstalk, dB:
Very good
IMD at 10 kHz, %:

General performance: Good.


Jumpers and switches Clear CMOS jumper  
In BIOS v2.57 from AMI Allows to disable specific CPU functions
Memory timings
Memory frequency selection
Auto, 400 MHz, 533 MHz
Peripheral bus frequency control
PCI IRQ manual assignment
HyperTransport frequency control
FSB frequency setup
200—250 MHz
CPU multiplier
CPU core voltage control
Auto, 0.8375—1.6000 V at 0.0125 V steps
FSB voltage control
Memory voltage control
Normal, +0.05—0.2 V at +0.05 V steps
Chipset voltage control
PCIE bus voltage control
Normal, +0.05—0.15 V at 0.05 V steps

We used BIOS v.0120, the latest available BIOS version at the time of our tests. The mentioned BIOS parameters are available in this version, but the viability of non-standard settings hasn't been tested.


  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 (660) 3.6 GHz
  • Memory:
    • 2 x Corsair XMS2-4300 CM2X512A-4300C3PRO (DDR2-533, 3-3-3-8)
    • 2 x Patriot PDC1G3200+XBLK modules (DDR-400, 2-2-2-5)

  • HDD: Samsung SP1213C (SATA, 7200 rpm, 8 MB Cache)
  • Video card: ATI Radeon X800 XT, 256 MB DDR
  • AC power adapter: FSP Blue Storm 500
  • OS: Windows XP SP2

Unfortunately, we haven't tested motherboards of this design for a long time already (Intel 915G + DDR/DDR2), so we practically cannot compare these results with other models. But not long ago we tested the RS400-A motherboard from ECS, which also supported two memory types. It was equipped with a chipset from ATI though. The table below contains the results of these two motherboards, demonstrated with various memory types.

PCChips M985G (DDR2-533)
ECS RS400-A (DDR2-533)
PCChips M985G (DDR-400)
ECS RS400-A (DDR-400)
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec
MPEG 4 (XVID) Encoding, min:sec
MPEG 4 (DIVX) Encoding, min:sec
Processing images in Photoshop, min:sec
Unreal Tournament 2004 (Low@640x480x32), fps
Unreal Tournament 2004 (Medium@800x600x32), fps

Of course, it's not correct to compare motherboards on different chipsets, but as both models are in the same price segment, support two memory types, and serve the same cause (to be the cheapest transitional stage between the old and the new standards), it will be interesting to see which model is faster. What concerns the prices, both motherboards come at less than 100$. But PCChips M985G leaves its competitors far behind in performance, so ECS RS400-A will hardly be successful.


PCChips M985G demonstrated very good results for a motherboard of this price segment. If we also take into account its price and support for two memory types, this motherboard under review is definitely a good bargain in the <100$ price segment.

This model on the manufacturer's web site

The motherboard is kindly provided by the manufacturer

Vladimir Senchihin (sench@ixbt.com)
December 16, 2005.

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