Conclusion: Teething Problems Are Gradually Solved
While most of the motherboards demonstrated serious bugs during our test in July, most of the problems have been solved by now. We could not find any faults that were attributable to hardware design in the course of our test. Instead, problems such as wrongly set memory timings, incorrect temperature detection, premature shutdown at high load, performance deficits and other annoying bugs can be solved through BIOS updates, which all the tested manufacturers normally provide on their website at frequent intervals. Now, practically each one also offers an update utility for Windows, which automatically downloads and installs the appropriate BIOS file from the internet.
Therefore, in the next few weeks, anyone reaching for a 915 or 925 motherboard (with the latest BIOS installed of course) should no longer anticipate any serious problems - as long as there is sufficient ventilation in the PC case and a good CPU cooler. However, we don't recommend going for the fastest P4 models at 3.4 and 3.6 GHz, as their requirements are one the sources for the problems.
The Intel D925XCV and the Abit AA8 gave us the least trouble. The Intel board mainly had difficulties with the supplied software. The Abit board is only useful for upgrading if the µGuru chip is used, and if the customer is prepared to reinstall Windows. Alternatively, the boards from Foxconn are a good bet, although they adopt a comparatively conservative approach. The Asus P5AD2 and the Gigabyte boards still shut down prematurely under a high CPU load.
We also need to apologise to Asus since we assumed it would power the Northbridge chips with up to over 2 Volts. The only remaining issue is the undocumented overclocking of ATI graphics cards with the "PEG Link Mode" in BIOS set to "Fast" and "Faster". On August 4th, a press release officially added the feature, but overclocking of non-motherboard components should at least be clearly documented - which is not the case in the manual.
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