The first time I ever heard of Foxconn, it was an ATX case that was being referred to. That was a couple of years ago, and for quite some time, I knew Foxconn only as making cases. Then, out of the blue as it seemed, I saw a review for a Foxconn motherboard. While I don't remember what this board was exactly, or even where the review was at, I do remember that the reviewer was quite impressed with the board, especially since it was the first motherboard that Foxconn had ever produced. Step forward just a little bit, and we come to the present, and the Foxconn 925XE motherboard that I have here for review. After having read that initial review, I was rather curious to see how well this board performs.
What You Get
Ok, so as I should hope anyone with the knowledge to assemble a computer would know, you do get a motherboard in this nifty package that Foxconn sends with the 925XE. But what else do you get?
8 SATA Cables
3 Rounded EIDE Cables
1 Rounded Floppy Cable
4 Standard 4-Pin Molex to PCI-Express power adaptors
1 Back Panel Firewire Bracket
1 Back Panel USB Bracket
Documentation and Drivers
RAID User Guide
Foxconn 925XE Users Manual
IDE and RAID Floppy Driver Discs
I would have to say, I was rather impressed when I saw all of the cables in the box. Most of the motherboards that I've had in the past, and I've had a bunch, generally came with one or two SATA cables, a couple of flat EIDE cables, a flat floppy cable, and that was about it. Foxconn has basically included everything that you might ever need, or even think you may need, to connect your storage drives and external devices to your computer. In my opinion, this is a really nice touch, and shows that Foxconn actually wants to make a good product and include everything that one might need to use it, as opposed to making the consumer go out and buy more stuff because the motherboard didn't come with it.
So, you know what comes with the board, but what about the board itself? The Foxconn 925XE comes on a red PCB and at first glance appears to be quite a 'packed' board. While there are capacitors close to the CPU socket, they are all relatively low profile, and should not cause clearance issues with any heat sink or water block. All of the larger components are situated far enough from the socket that there should be no cooling device available that won't fit, though I can't confirm this, as I don't own every cooling device available.
Just below the CPU socket we find the Northbridge, and unlike many 925X/XE boards on the market, the Foxconn board has an active HSF assembly. Below the Northbridge you find the PCIe slots; 3 1x PCIe slots of the small variety and of course a single 16x PCIe slot for graphics. Below the PCIe slots are the PCI slots, 3 of, so you won't need to change any of your cards over to the new PCIe format if you have any.
Travelling back to the top of the board and hitching a right we come across the Ram Slot area. This Foxconn board has support for 4 DDR2 modules in Dual channel, indicated by the differing colors. Also in this area is an IDE slot, a floppy port and the 24 pin ATX connector. Below this we can see the SATA ports (4 of), followed by 2 extra IDE's and next to them a further 4 SATA ports given you a lot of options for connecting storage devices.
Overall, I found the board layout to be very well executed. One problem that a lot of motherboards have is in regards to the memory slots, and the video card. On a lot of motherboards, you basically have to remove the video card in order to add or remove memory, because the memory retention clips are jammed right up against the backside of the video card. I am please to report that this is not the case with the Foxconn 925XE. There is ample room to release the memory retention clips, without having even the longest of video cards interfere.
Other than that, the 925XE has the usual array of IO connections, which include 2 GIG Ethernet connections, PS/2 Keyboard and Mouse connections, one serial port, one parallel port, a firewire connection, 4 USB ports, and all of the audio connections to support the Intel HD Audio capabilities.
The BIOS for the Foxconn 925XE has quite a lot going for it. As is common among newer boards, not only can you select the boot priority of a devices, you can also select (for the hard drives at least) which hard drive to boot first, which does make for a quick and easy way of supporting multiple operating systems. You also have a seperate screen to dictate settings for each of the SATA and IDE channels and their modes.
PCI, Power and Temperatures are listed on seperate screens; no more or less on these screens than you expect.
Moving on to the more 'exciting' stuff of voltages, memory settings and overclocking, we find that the Foxconn 925XE is pretty well prepared for this. Voltages are can be changed under the SuperSpeed screen (more on this in a moment) and regulated on a seperate screen. Memory settings also have their own screen and while the important settings are there and it's nice to have them on their own screen, it does make this screen a little bare.
Overclocking from the BIOS, is supported pretty well, and uses Foxconn's 'Super' suite of utilities. SuperSpeed, as the name suggests, is used to adjust the speed of your CPU and system, and it's nice to see that you can key in an FSB directly rather than having to scroll through a list. Under BIOS features we find not only the SuperSpeed page but also the SuperBoot (to dictate), SuperBIOS-Protect (to aid in protecting/saving your BIOS settings and SuperRecovery Hotkey (to allow you to set a key combination that will reset the BIOS in the event you find you can no longer boot the system).