Support for old interfaces can hardly be a competitive advantage for expensive motherboards, but there is no sin for entry-level models to take advantage of this argument. It's no secret that most corporate users are not eager to upgrade computers out of aesthetic reasons. So offices keep a great number of fully operational devices that require outdated COM, LPT, IDE ports. Besides, there are components, for example, hardware keys for professional software and specific devices (indispensable) manufactured by local inventors, which cannot be connected to USB/FireWire.
Engineers of WinFast 6100M2MA-RS2H evidently wanted to design a motherboard with conservative functionality for this group of users. Contrary to the modern tendency, two IDE connectors are preserved, the number of SATA connectors is also reduced to two. The board has a connector for the second COM port in addition to COM and LPT connectors on the rear panel.
That's not the first time when we have practically no gripes with the layout of a microATX motherboard. All peripheral and power connectors are located along the edges, the only jumper (clear CMOS) is also easily accessible and is equipped with a "handle". Even the FDD connector is not blocked by the bottom PCI slot - it's located near IDE connectors instead.
Both bridges get rather hot during intensive operations. But the voltage regulator, despite no cooling, gets hot only in marathon tests that heavily load a processor. A heatsink on the Southbridge gets hotter than that on the Northbridge, it's especially noticeable in active network traffic modes. Chipset cooling can be tested by copying large files from a local FTP server or loading the built-in network adapter in a different way (that's especially important for nForce4-series chipsets). In this case we ran a file-exchange client for 24 hours, but we noticed no operating instabilities.
The 3-phase switching voltage regulator of the processor incorporates three field-effect transistors per channel, five 3300 uF capacitors from United Chemi-Con, and four 1500 uF capacitors from Rubycon. The memory voltage regulator is reinforced with L-elements and incorporates capacitors solely from elite manufacturers (from the same two series). The choice is just excellent! That's even surprising, as this model is as cheap as possible in other respects: an empty seat for a FireWire controller, which is installed in a more expensive model (6100M2MA-8EKRS2H), which is also equipped with a 8-channel HDA codec and a gigabit network adapter. Motherboard dimensions — 245x245 mm (standard microATX), nine-screw mount.
System monitoring (ITE IT8712F-S, according to BIOS Setup)
Smart Fan offers a logical algorithm, especially good for an inexpensive or boxed cooler, which usually cannot boast of an even noise spectrum along the entire range of speeds. Consequently, several fixed rotational speeds are an optimal choice to preserve minimal speed for the required temperature range. However, you can also specify the desired speed or stop the fan manually using the bundled utility - Tiger One.
It's good that Foxconn together with ECS introduced Smart Fan modes into low-end models, which used to be unavailable even in expensive models from these manufacturers.
Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors
Back panel (left to right, blockwise)
Click the image to open the rear view of this motherboard
A set of proprietary utilities includes Tiger One — system monitoring (it alerts a user when monitored parameters go beyond the admissible limits), overclocking (along with BIOS settings, it allows to control PCI Express clock), manual speed control for a CPU fan. SuperLogo - changing a graphics logo that is displayed at startup. BIOS LiveUpdate — updating BIOS automatically, checking for updates on the official web site. The bundle also includes Norton Internet Security 2006.
General performance: Good (Details). Unfortunately, Foxconn engineers are still insisting on AC’97 codecs in low-end models (like in the previous model for Socket 939), though the chipset supports HD Audio. So if you want to use something better than micro speakers in your monitor, you'd better consider the 6100M2MA-8EKRS2H model with a sterling 8-channel HDA codec.
Proprietary technologies and peculiarities
We used BIOS 5C3W1P22 dated 15.05.06, provided by the manufacturer. The mentioned BIOS parameters are available in this version, but the viability of non-standard settings hasn't been tested.
Despite some interesting overclocking settings, including CPU and memory voltage control, some BIOS features are puzzling. For example, absolutely no control of memory timings. You cannot change a CPU multiplier as well as control Cool’n’Quiet (however, this technology works well, after you install a driver in Windows).
These flaws may be fixed in future BIOS versions, as even now Tiger One controls parameters that are unavailable from BIOS, PCIE clock in particular. However, we found out the main voucher in performance tests: automatic timings selection is praiseworthy! By the way, the overclocked motherboard expectedly demonstrates a better potential compared to models with developed timings options, but without memory voltage control.
We compared this model to ECS RS485M-M — the only tested model for Socket AM2 on the integrated chipset (ATI Radeon Xpress 1150, competitor to NVIDIA nForce 6100).
As we already noted in the review of the ECS RS485M-M motherboard, the current implementation of the integrated video core from NVIDIA outperforms ATI's solution in lower resolutions and in simple video modes, while the difference becomes insignificant in modern games and under heavier loads on the accelerator. What concerns 2D performance, both solutions demonstrate practically identical results (to be more exact, Foxconn managed to shoot forward due to automatically selected aggressive timings).
NVIDIA GeForce 6100 is certainly viable even on the Socket AM2 platform in the segment of inexpensive motherboard with multimedia "rudiments". In fact, NVIDIA doesn't even have to invent a replacement in the nearest future, as functionality of this chipset is more than sufficient. 3D performance of the video core corresponds to the modern level for integrated video (to be more exact, there are just no better solutions so far).
Conclusions on the Foxconn motherboard are also pleasant. The company evidently works on individuality of its products, even low-end models, though competing motherboards cannot boast of rich functionality. Compared to the model on the same chipset for Socket 939 (Foxconn WinFast 6100K8MA-RS), the list of proprietary options is supplemented with such a useful feature as automatic fan speed control. Nevertheless, we cannot approve of the obsessive usage of cheap audio codecs, ignoring chipset support for HD Audio. Cheap motherboards are exactly those models that require integrated audio support. And the resulting cost reduction is too low to justify using AC’97. That's why it's especially surprising when such a choice is accompanied with solely elite capacitors.
The motherboard is kindly provided by the manufacturer
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