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DFI's LANParty 925X-T2 and 915P-T12 motherboards

They'll glow on you

ModelLANParty 925X-T2
LANParty UT 915P-T12
Price (street)$214 (925X-T2)
$159 (UT 915P-T12)

SINCE MY OFFICE IS always filled with test systems and extra hardware, it's become a popular locale for almost-weekly LAN parties. Although the room's small size and pesky wiring limits sessions to four or five systems, we'll trash talk into the wee hours playing a variety of games. Among my geekiest of acquaintances, the LAN party has become the equivalent of a poker night. Instead of betting chips and inhaling stogies, we frantically hammer mouse buttons and seek sustenance from sushi and caffeine.

Nearly a year and a half ago, DFI tried to capitalize on the popularity of LAN parties by introducing the LANParty line of motherboards targeted at gamers and enthusiasts. With high-performance chipsets, plenty of integrated peripherals, a unique look, and loads of bundled extras, the LANParty boards were perfect for those looking to show off at the next geeky gathering.

Since it just wouldn't be showing off without the latest hardware, DFI has updated its LANParty family over time. The latest additions to the line are the LANParty 925X-T2 and UT 915P-T12. Based on Intel's 900-series chipsets and LGA775 socket, these new LANPartys take aesthetics and extras to a whole new level. Read on to see how they stack up against each other and the competition.

The specs
As far as their spec sheets go, the LANParty 925X-T2 and UT 915P-T12 are virtually identical.

MotherboardLANParty UT 915P-T12LANParty 925X-T2
CPU supportLGA775 Intel Pentium 4 processors with 800MHz front-side bus
Form factorATX
ChipsetIntel 915P ExpressIntel 925X Express
North bridgeIntel 915P MCHIntel 925X MCH
South bridgeIntel ICH6R
InterconnectDMI (2GB/s)
Expansion slots1 PCI Express X16
3 PCI Express X1
3 32-bit/33MHz PCI
Memory2 184-pin DIMM slots
2 240-pin DIMM slots
Maximum 2GB of DDR 400 SDRAM
Maximum 2GB of DDR2 533 SDRAM
4 240-pin DIMM slots
Maximum 4GB of DDR2 533 SDRAM with ECC
Storage I/OFloppy disk
1 channel ATA/100
4 ports Serial ATA 150 via ICH6R south bridge with RAID 0, 1, 0+1, and Matrix RAID support

8-channel audio via ICH6R integrated audio and ALC880 codec

Ports1 PS/2 keyboard
1 PS/2 mouse
USB 2.0 with headers for 2 more
1 Firewire via VIA VT6307 with headers for 1 more
1 RJ45 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet via PCI Marvell 88E8001
1 RJ45 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet via PCI-E Marvell 88E8053

1 line out/front out
1 rear out
1 surround out

1 bass/center out
1 mic in
1 line in
1 digital S/PDIF out (RCA)
1 digital S/PDIF in (RCA)
BIOSPhoenix AwardBIOS
Bus speedsFSB: 200-380MHz in 1MHz increments
PCI Express: 100-140MHz in 1MHz increments
VoltagesCPU: 0.8375-1.95V in 0.05V increments
DRAM (DDR): 2.6-3.3V in 0.1V increments
DRAM (DDR2): 1.8-2.5V in 0.1V increments
North bridge: 1.5-1.8V in 0.1V increments
MonitoringVoltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring
Fan speed controlCPU, AUX1, AUX2

The only difference between the 925X and 915P-T12 is at the north bridge. I think you can guess which board uses which north bridge chip. How do the 925X and 915P north bridge chips differ? The 925X's memory controller has faster internal timings and support for ECC memory. The 915P supports DDR2, but only with more relaxed timings inside the memory controller. The 915P doesn't support ECC, either, although it is compatible with DDR SDRAM while the 925X is DDR2-only.

DFI takes advantage of the 915P memory controller's flexibility and populates the 915P-T12 with both DDR and DDR2 DIMM slots. That softens the upgrade path a little, but since DDR and DDR2 DIMMs can't be used together, the board is limited to 2GB of memory. The 925X-T2 supports up to 4GB of memory, but again, only DDR2.

As far as differences go, that's about it. However, there are plenty of similarities between the 925X-T2 and 915P-T12 that deserve some attention. First, note that both use Intel's RAID-equipped ICH6R south bridge. Also note that both boards take advantage of the ICH6R's "Azalia" Intel High Definition Audio. DFI equips both boards with Realtek's ALC880 codec, which supports 24-bit/192kHz audio across eight output channels. DFI's take on Azalia is a little funky, too. More on that in a moment.

The LANParty 925X-T2 and UT 915P-T12 are both equipped with dual Gigabit Ethernet chips split between PCI and PCI Express busses. Having at least one GigE controller on the PCI-E bus is a very good thing, and given the boards' lack of PCI-bound peripherals, a second GigE option on the PCI bus isn't a bad perk. However, I can't help but wonder if enthusiasts would be more inclined to exploit a dual Ethernet configuration that offered GigE and Wi-Fi instead of two wired GigE options.