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Foxconn 975X7AB Foxconn 975X7AB Motherboard: Foxconn refreshes their 975X motherboard to support the C2D CPUs from Intel. How will it fare against the 965 chipset?
Date: September 10, 2006
Manufacturer:
Written By: Brook Moore
Price:

As the Intel Core 2 Duo specifications were introduced, a lot of motherboard manufacturers had to go back to the drawing boards and revamp already released Intel chipset based motherboards to meet these new specifications. The Intel 975X is the one to have needed this, as the 965 was tailor made to support the Core 2 Duo.

, who we have seen make large strides towards enthusiasts offerings over the last few years, has sent VL their latest 975X based motherboard, the . Interesting to note that the 975X7AB is part of Foxconn's “Fox One Technology”, their latest push into the enthusiasts space.

While the updated 975X7AB maintains use of the ICH7R south bridge, there has been some subtle changes (besides support for the C2D of course). Lets look over what is included.

Specifications

Form factor
ATX
Chipset
Intel 975X/ICH7R
CPU
LGA775 supporting the Intel Core 2 Extreme / Core 2 Duo / Pentium D / / Pentium 4 (@ 65nm and 80nm)
FSB

1066/800/533

BIOS
Pheonix - Award BIOS, Inc.
Memory
4 DDR2 (240-pin) DIMMS / Max 8GB / Dual Channel capable (ECC or non-ECC)
PCIe
2 – x16 (PCIe1 x16 / PCIe2 x16) / 2 – x1
NIC
Marvel Yukon
IDE
ICH7R - 2x IDE (1 ATA133, 1 ATA100) / 4x SATA-II (RAID 0/1/5/0+1)
Audio
Realtek ALC882M HD 8-Channel CODEC with S/PDIF Optical/Copper
Ports
10x USB 2.0 (4 rear, 2x2 headers) / IEEE-1394 (1 rear, 1 header) / E-SATA / PS2 (2) / S/PDIF (Fiber and Copper) / RS-232 riser 

Not listed above, but most definitely of note is this little thing called “”. You may raise your eyebrows with disdain and/or ask what this means? The Digital Pulse Width Modulation is the digital voltage regulation that we have heard about for some time; yes Tommy, this is the one that replaces all of those capacitors around the CPU, be it Japanese or Korean flavor, not to mention the space they occupied. Can you say plenty of room for Phase Change cooling systems? Thought so... The interesting thing is that Foxconn, not a name you would necessarily utter when asked who is at the forefront is coming out with Digital PWM ahead of most of the crowd.

As with most motherboards out today, the Foxconn 975X7AB is packed with ports and features. There is plenty of USB support and enough SATA-II ports to make most people happy.

FOX ONE Technology

is a high-performance ACPI controller IC on the motherboard, this is a specific to Intel IC. The FOX ONE chip integrates a “charge pump” engine to provide more robust driving voltage during standby. Concurrently, the FOX ONE IC offers current limiting intelligence that protects each of the PWM outputs, thus providing a soft, linear start to avoid the over rush of current on initial power up. Finally the integrates all of this control, monitoring and protection in a single package, which is exclusive to Foxconn. What, you may ask, does this do for me, the typical end user? It allows for a single point of control over the motherboard and its operations, be it voltage or temperature adjustment needs, this chip will assist and alleviate issues.

Other Features

Some other nice features worth reading about, as well as investigating while building your system, is the “Human Technologies” that Foxconn has deployed on the 975X7AB. Lets look over each briefly:

Exclusive Graphics Power – Using the previously mentioned FOX ONE and Digital PWM circuitry, Foxconn is able to provide exclusive power for the graphics card to provide better overall graphics performance and to allow room for future growth.

One Click Resume – Push “reset”, and return to the previous state of Overclocking, or none, thus reducing the number of power off and CMOS resets.

Quick BIOS update – Easily reset your BIOS to default with a push of a hot button.

Multi-Boot Agent – Once POST has completed, you can simply press the “ESC” key and you will be prompted as to which device you would like to boot from THIS time, it is not a hard BIOS set and save.

BIOS Rescue – Sets aside a small portion of the hard drive for BIOS backups and therefore quick recovery if a flash has gone bad.

The Foxconn motherboard was packaged unlike any Foxconn package I have previous seen. The outer package is Gold and Silver with sharp graphics and a large “FOX ONE” font in the background. The back of the gold sleeve denotes some of Foxconn's innovative technology that the 975X7AB deploys. Inside the gold sleeve is a platinum colored box with similar logo's and rather thick cardboard. This motherboard is protected well.

Opening the package I was surprised to see what was included; not that there was a plethora of extras, its just that they are all black and look as 'l33t' as the cover itself. This is an extremely nice addition and quickly raises expectations of the motherboard housed inside. Lets take stock of what comes as “extra” with the motherboard itself:

4 Black SATA cable's (enough to use each and every SATA slot)

2 Black Rounded IDE cable's

1 Black Rounded Floppy cable

1 Black USB Riser (4 USB ports)

1 Black IEEE-1394 Riser (2 Firewire ports)

1 Black RS-232 Riser

1 Driver CD

1 Manual

1 Large Quickstart guide

There is a theme here, and its called high quality additions and color scheming for your windowed case. Everything looks nice in black and the rounded cables look and feel well built.

The quick-start guide supplied with the 975X7AB is large, in fact it would not fit on my desk. The flow of the quick-start is very nice in that it offers exactly what it proposes, which is a quick method for getting things up and running for those of us with little time or need (tsk tsk) to read the manual . I am rather impressed at the level of detail Foxconn has achieved with the quick-start guide. The front page has 8 steps that walk you through installing your CPU and HS/Fan. On the bottom are blown up pictures of needed and possibly needed riser, such as your FP connector and High Definition Audio riser. Turning the quick-start guide over you get the typical BIOS settings walk through and then a step by step guide of how to install the Drivers and Utilities from the included CD. This has to be one of the most complete guides I have seen to date, not to mention it is in full color for ease of reference. My only beef would be that due to it's size, it could get lost or tossed once the system is built, but thats just me.

The Foxconn 975X7AB manual is similar to other manuals I have from Foxconn As well as other motherboard manufacturers. The layout is logical and easy to follow. There is no color once you flip the cover, color coding being something that is gaining popularity in other manuals I have seen. It would be nice to at least have the motherboard view in color (when denoting where everything is) so you can easily locate connectors or risers etc (they are color coded on the motherboard), at minimum have the Front Panel IO connector in color for quick reference. Granted color coding is done for you on the quickstart guide, I just see that getting lost eventually, and I still have manuals from motherboards I don't have anymore, like my P3V4x.

The motherboard itself is standard Foxconn red; I almost expected Black once viewing the cables, needless to say I was a tiny bit disappointed. However, the look of the red background with the black cables is appealing, maybe Yellow would have been a nice color too? An overview of the layout and you notice there is one fan, if there was anything that would take away my perception of an enthusiast board, this would be it. I would have much rather seen a heat pipe solution that is so popular among the high end brands of today. As I mentioned earlier, everything appears to be color coded nicely to help you locate connectors and risers.

The socket used on the Foxconn 975X7AB is of course of the LGA775 format and is located on the right rear quadrant as with most solutions today. There appears to be ample room surrounding the socket retention mechanism for most HS/Fan combinations. Just above the LGA-775 is the Digital VRM. It is somewhat strange looking as there are only a dozen or so capacitors seen in this area, where we would typically see more then 30. Add to that the Northbridge is adorned with a fan, that as mentioned previous, is out of place on this class of board. Also in this area is the 4/8 pin 12V-Aux power connector, nice to see the 8 pin option here. The 12V-Aux connector, when used in 8 pin mode, utilizes both 12V rails of dual rail PSU's.

Moving to the left rear of the motherboard we see the dual x16 graphics slots, and two x1 PCIe slots. There is also your additional molex power connector for that 2nd graphics card power requirement and 2 PCI slots, although we are seeing fewer and fewer things utilize PCI these days. As you may recall from previous reviews, the Intel 975X chipset supports Crossfire. The blue connector is for RS-232 and the yellow for your Firewire connection. Also in this quadrant is the system speaker, which either conveniently or not, is no longer a jumper to the case (which means you can't leave it disconnected).

Moving to the left front section of the motherboard we see our Front Panel connector, USB risers and our SB heat sink. Also in this section are your 4 SATA-II connectors as well as a unique IDE solution. Unique you ask? Yes, the white one on the left is ATA-100 capable and the blue one on the bottom right is ATA-133 capable, I call that unique. The solution does allow for a total of 8 drives (4 SATA and 4 PATA). A nice touch, for me at least, is if you look in the lower left corner, you see a small yellow button. That is a power on button which is a huge advantage to someone pre-building a system based on this motherboard, or doing reviews.

Finally the right front section of the board where we connect our 20/24 pin main power. We also have the memory slots, which are color coded for Dual DDR2 functionality, you simply plug each module into the same color. Note that there is separation between the memory modules when running just two, which probably will be the primary scenario, this should allow ample cooling of the memory sticks.

The Rear I/O Panel for the Foxconn 975X7AB features (from left to right) 2 PS2 ports for your mouse and keyboard, LPT, RS-232, 10/100/1000 RJ45, 4 USB slots and the 6 connector Audio panel. The floppy connector and IrDA riser are also in this section.

Installing the 975X7AB, like many motherboards, is only an issue if something is amiss, that being said, the Foxconn installed without issue. Of note is the extra molex connector on the motherboard is spaced a distance away from the video card, giving you ample room to install and remove either. As mentioned earlier, memory is inserted in either the yellow or blue slots if you want to run them in Dual DDR2 mode. Making sure to connect the Samsung HD to SATA1, lets boot her up.

NEXT

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