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When it does work, it means that you can have four displays, as long as you are aware of the limitations. The implementation could do with some further tuning, but as an inexpensive path to a quad display solution it has plenty of potential.
To test some of the various configuration options of the 915P-A, I set it up in three different ways. To remove as many bottlenecks as possible the tests were run using a 3.6GHz Socket-775 Pentium 4 processor, a 250GB Maxtor SATA hard drive, 1GB of PC4300 DDR2 memory, and in another test with 1GB of PC3200 DDR memory. For comparing the graphics performance a PCI Express and an AGP GeForce 6600GT card were used.
Looking at the performance numbers there are clear differences between the different configurations. In SYSMark 2004 the overall score using DDR1 memory and the AGP Express slot produced a score of 209. Swapping the graphics card for the PCI Express solution upped the score to 211, while changing the memory to DDR2 again increased the score to 214.
The small increases of a couple of points with each upgrade may not seem like a big deal, but when you look at the 3D scores you’ll see a huge jump up in performance. Starting again with the AGP Express setup, the 3DMark05 score is a very low 1419. With the PCI Express card however, the score went up to 3556 and swapping the memory over to DDR2 brought it up further to 3563.
As you can see the AGP Express slot is far from ideal for game performance, but considering its not a full AGP implementation it’s no real surprise. The advantage of DDR2 memory over DDR is fairly minor, although some will take the opportunity to grab any performance increase, no matter how small. However, for most, the extra cost doesn’t justify running out to get DDR2 straight away.
At £60.05, the 915P-A does reflect its intended market cost wise, being quite reasonable for a Socket-775 board. But considering the mixed impressions I’ve had from this board I can’t recommend it for everyone. However, as an cost-effective upgrade solution or if you need a cheap quad display setup, there are few other options out there though its hardware compatibility issues should be taken into account.