Foxconn 975X7AA-8EKRS2H: We look at Foxconn's latest premium board built for the latest Intel has to offer.
July 7, 2006
If you own, or have owned a computer anytime in the last 15 or so years you most likely were using one item or another from Foxconn. Well, not satisfied with being the "behind the scenes" OEM or budget entry level manufacturer anymore Foxconn started releasing products (motherboards) that are geared towards the enthusiast market. It takes some impressive hardware to compete with the likes of ABIT, Asus etc. and Foxconn has really rose to the challenge with their past offerings like the NF4SLI7AA-8EKRS2, a full featured SLI capable board we reviewed not to long ago. This time we have a crossfire capable board dubbed the 975X7AA-8EKRS2H, is it up to the task?
Like the NF4SLI7AA-8EKRS2 I looked at not to long ago the 975X7AA-8EKRS2H is built around the LGA775 socket but uses the new Intel i975X chipset rather than NF4. What the i975X brings to the table is dual PCI-Express X16 graphics support. For those of you keeping score that means ATI Crossfire support. I'll go into more detail about the chipset further into the review, for now lets get the technical specifications out of the way.
Supports compatible Intel® Socket 775 processors.
Intel® 975X Express + ICH7R
Dual channel, unbuffered, 1.8V DDR2-533/667 w/ or w/o ECC; (4) 240-pin DIMM sockets, max 8GB
Discrete (nonintegrated) - use expansion slot
2 x PCI Express x16 (function as 2 x8 under ATI CrossFire), 2 x PCI Express x1, 2 x PCI
1 x ATA/100 + 4 x SATA II/300 (w/ RAID)
Supports RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, and Intel Matrix Storage Technology (1+0 on 2 HDDs)
Includes second SATA RAID controller, 1 internal + 1 rear panel/external connector (supports RAID 0 and 1)
2; 1 x 6-pin in rear I/O area + 1 front via internal header; 1394a
Includes cable/brkt for alternate connection - 6-pin or 4-pin from internal header
Max of 2 connections
Up to 8; 4 in rear I/O area + 2 internal 2-port headers; ver. 2.0
Rear I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 keyboard
1 x PS/2 mouse
1 x RJ45 (LAN)
4 x USB 2.0
1 x line-in/line-out/mic (audio)
1 x parallel (SPP/ECP/EPP)
Additional line-outs for 7.1 channel audio
Second RJ45 (LAN)
1 x IEEE-1394
2 x S/PDIF (1 x coax out + 1 x optical out)
1 x floppy disk drive
Front audio header
2 x USB 2-port headers, ver. 2.0
1 x IEEE-1394 header
Wake-on-LAN (WOL), suspend-to-RAM (STR, S3), suspend-to-disk (STD, S4)
FOX ONE, Fox LiveUpdate
Adjustable bus speeds
Adjustable memory timing
Adjustable voltages (may be Vcore only)
ATX, 12'' x 9.6'' or smaller - see User's Manual
The packaging isn't over the top with bright colors or cartoons, instead it goes for the more classy, or sophisticated look. The gold outer sleeve has a little basic info about the board, once that is removed there is more info on the box itself.
The layout of the board is pretty standard so I wont go into a whole lot of detail, I will point out a few highlights as well as any possible problem areas.
As you can see in the picture below, everything is pretty standard, the layout is pretty efficient as far as providing access to everything, for example you wont need to remove your video card to access the RAM or CMOS jumper etc.
Upon closer inspection one thing does look out of place, and that is the SATA connection placed near the 8 pin ATX12V plug. If you look closely you'll also notice a Silicon Image SiI3132 Serial ATA II/RAID controller, this may seem like an odd place for a RAID controller, but if you take a look at the rear I/O of the board you'll find a second SATA port for an external SATA drive. Along with the external SATA port you will find the usual connections, PS/2 mouse and keyboard, dual gigabit NIC, USB, Firewire and audio among others.
The CPU area looks to be clear of any obstructions upon first glance, but there are several tall capacitors that could be in the way, most notably with waterblocks. As you can see in the pictures below you would need to bend the capacitors out of the way to install the Swiftech Storm waterblock used in this example. This should be something to consider depending on the type of heatsink you are using. a factory Intel heatsink clears these capacitors by about an 8th of an inch.
The NB and SB are both cooled using aluminum heatsinks, the SB being passively cooled and the NB cooled via a 40mm fan. You can also see the Fox One chip that controls Foxconn's Fox One technology to the right of the SB. Fox One adds several performance features like the ability to dynamically overclock your CPU depending on what setting you have enabled in the BIOS and how the computer is being used. Just below the RAM slots is where you will find your ATX power, primary IDE and floppy connections.
Expansion wise the board offer two 16X PCI Express slots, with two ATI cards set up in Crossfire mode the bandwidth is split evenly between the 2 cards providing 8X PCI Express bandwidth to each card. In addition to that there are also two 1X PCI Express slots as well as two standard PCI slots, leaving lots of options for add in cards if needed. However with the onboard sound and LAN you most likely won't need them.
Last but not least, the often times most crowded section of the board, the place were pretty much everything plugs in. Just below the SB is where you'll find your front panel connectors as well as additional USB and Firewire plugs, CMOS battery and Jumper etc. You can also see where the secondary IDE would be if included on this board.