iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Foxconn 915A01-P-8EKRS Mainboard
Based on Intel 915P

The Low End sector is specific for any wild fantasies of R&D engineers are inevitably "gelded"... to full sterility. The logic is simple: if a manufacturer can equip a low end mainboard with some feature without raising manufacturing costs it will surely be done. At least out of sheer marketing purposes. But the problem is that no really interesting feature comes free. And the price cannot be raised imperatively. That's why the majority of low end mainboards are designed by the classic formula: the rectangular piece of fabric-based laminate of the appropriate size + chipset + slots and connectors + minimum of additional controllers. 915A01-P-8EKRS from Foxconn is practically an ideal implementation of this concept.

The only difference from a typical low end mainboard is FireWire controller. By the way, we haven't seen any Foxconn mainboard without FireWire. This suggests an idea that this manufacturer found a deserted hangar brim-full with IEEE-1394 controllers from VIA Technologies :) otherwise why use them even in mATX mainboards based on chipsets with on-board video?

The PCB layout is standard, one should note an inconvenient placement of the audio-in jack and the density of memory slots. Access to jumpers is not hampered, when the mainboard is in a case, their brief descriptions are provided on the PCB. The 3-phase switching voltage regulator of the processor incorporates four 1800 uF capacitors and ten 560 uF capacitors. The PCB also contains voltage regulators for the PCI-E x16 bus (2x1000 uF) and for memory (4x1000 uF).

Foxconn also manufactures 915A03-P-8EKRS mainboards based on the similar design, which differ from our mainboard under review by the memory type: unlike A01, A03 uses regular DDR.

The PCB lacks the following elements, which seats are provided by the layout: COM port and WOM, SATA RAID and its connectors. Mainboard dimensions – 305x245 mm (full-sized ATX, ten-screw mount, all mainboard edges are firmly fixed). The ITE IT8712F-A chip is used to monitor:

  • CPU voltage, +2.6, +3.3, +5, +/-12 V and VBAT
  • RPM of 2 fans
  • CPU temperature (by the embedded CPU sensor)
  • Board temperature (by the on-board sensor)

Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors

  • CPU socket (Socket 775)
  • 4 x DDR2 SDRAM DIMM (colored, grouped in pairs)
  • 1 x PCI-E x16 (with a latch)
  • 3 x PCI-E x1
  • 3 x PCI (32bit, 33MHz)
  • Power connectors: standard EPS12V (24 pins) and 4-pin connector for 12 V
  • 1 x FDD
  • 1 x IDE (Parallel ATA) – in the chipset
  • 4 x SATA (Serial ATA) – all in the chipset
  • 2 connectors for brackets with additional USB (2.0) ports
  • Connector for the bracket with an additional FireWire port
  • 1 x CD/DVD audio connector
  • 1 x standard IrDA connector
  • Connector for a chassis intrusion sensor
  • WOL connector (Wake-On-LAN)
  • TPM connector (Trusted Platform Module)
  • Headers for additional Audio-Outs and S/PDIF
  • 2 fan headers (with rpm control).

Back panel (left to right, blockwise)

  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard
  • LPT, 1 x COM-port
  • 2 x USB and 1 x FireWire
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 6 x Audio (Mic-In, Line-In, Front, Center/Sub, Rear, Side)

Package Contents

  • Standard design box
  • Documentation (in English):
    • User's guide
    • SATA RAID setup guide

  • Cables:
    • ATA66/100/133
    • 1 x FDD
    • 1 x SerialATA (with a SATA power converter)

  • Rear I/O shield
  • Rear panel bracket with 2 x USB
  • Rear panel bracket with Coaxial S/PDIF-Out
  • Floppy with SATA RAID drivers
  • CD with software:
    • mainboard drivers
    • Adobe Acrobat Reader
    • Norton Internet Security 2004
    • Foxconn SuperUtilities
    • DirectX 9.0b

We can note the SATA power converter (useful accessory for the owners of power units without Serial ATA power connectors) and Norton Internet Security 2004 – fairly good personal firewall (the latest version). Foxconn SuperUtilites is a set of utilities, which functionality can be easily guessed from their titles: SuperBoot, SuperBIOS-Protect, SuperStep (overclocking), SuperLogo, SuperUpdate.

Integrated Controllers

  • Avance Logic ALC880 HD Audio Codec supporting 7.1 surround sound audio, with front line-in/out and S/PDIF jacks
  • Network controller based on the Realtek RTL8110S-32 chip supporting 10Base-T/100Base-TX/1000Base-T
  • FireWire based on the VIA VT6307 chip supporting two FireWire ports

It's interesting to see the FireWire support in the mainboard of the mATX format, which is traditionally associated with inexpensive budget solutions.

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16bit, 44 kHz using the RightMark Audio Analyzer 5.1 test application and the Terratec DMX 6fire sound card:

FR passband ripple (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB:
+0.13, -0.21
Very good
Noise level, dB (A):
Very good
Dynamic range, dB (A):
Very good
THD, %:
Very good
Intermodulation distortions, %:
Channel crosstalk, dB:

General performance: Very good (details).


Jumpers and switches Clear CMOS jumper  
Flash recovery jumper (to block Boot Block BIOS flashing)
In Award BIOS v6.00PGMemory timings+CAS Latency, RAS to CAS Delay, RAS Precharge, Precharge Delay
Memory frequency selection+Auto, DDR2-400, DDR2-533
AGP bus setup+ 
PCI bus setup +  
PCI bus setup- 
PCI frequency divider setup - 
PCI IRQ manual assignment+ 
FSB frequency setup+ 100-350 MHz at 1 MHz steps
CPU multiplier+ x8–x50
CPU core voltage control+ -0.0375 - +0.1 V at 0.0125 V steps
Memory voltage control - 
Chipset voltage control - 
PCI-E bus voltage control - 

We used BIOS dated 10.06.2004, the latest available BIOS version at the time of our tests.

Preliminary test results

  Foxconn 915A01-P-8EKRS MSI 915P Neo2 Platinum
Return to Castle Wolfenstein, 800x600x32 228 232
Adobe Photoshop 7.0, script execution 00:08:21 00:08:14
DivX 5.1 Pro encoding 00:07:20 00:07:15
7-zip archiving 00:07:37 00:07:31


Dmitry Majorov (destrax@ixbt.com)
August 9, 2004

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