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Foxconn 925XE7AA-8EKRS2 Motherboard
Based on Intel 925XE Chipset

March 31, 2005



By the end of 2004 Intel took another step to increase performance of its processors. It launched a new Pentium 4 XE (Extreme Edition) 3.46 GHz supporting 266 MHz FSB (physical, which corresponds to 1066 MHz in terms of throughput). There followed a new Intel 925XE chipset supporting the new processor, which in its turn is a redesigned i925X. The only difference between them is that the 925XE supports 1066 MHz FSB and processors with 64-bit extensions, which Intel calls EM64T technology (de facto it's practically the same as the previous x86-64, which is now called AMD64). The new chipset does not officially support DDR2 667, but you can set this value in BIOS settings, if your motherboard allows memory frequency control. That's why, this memory type may be supported unofficially (which is often the case with chipsets, not only with Intel ones).

Foxconn has been cooperating with Intel for a long time, being a large manufacturer of motherboards for other brands. That's why in the light of new trends, when the company started to promote its own brand, it's not surprising that it wants to offer a motherboard based on the top chipset from its key partner. The new Foxconn motherboard is a pleasant surprise even when you just open the package. You will be impressed by the abundance of cables included into the bundle, all necessary drivers for integrated SATA controllers (there are three of them, by the way), which in its turn makes an impression of a complete well thought-out bundle.




PCB layout is rather good, though there may be problems, if you try to use all connectors (eight SATA and two IDE) in the bottom left part of the board. Access to jumpers is not hampered, when the motherboard is installed into a PC case. Short description of their functions is provided on the PCB. The 3-phase switching CPU voltage regulator uses three 1800 uF capacitors. And the memory voltage regulator uses five 1000 uF capacitors, four 470 uF capacitors, and several ones of a lesser capacitance.

The motherboard is notable for a Silicon Image SataLink SATA controller, which supports command queues, and fairly good quality of the integrated audio (Realtek HD ALC880). Foxconn 925XE7AA differs from its predecessor Foxconn 925A01-8EKRS (based on the i925X chipset) not only by the core logic, but also by three IDE connectors instead of only one (1 x IDE is actually not enough for a motherboard of this class). Motherboard dimensions – 305x245 mm (full-sized ATX, ten-screw mount, all motherboard edges are firmly fixed). The ITE IT8712F-A chip is used to monitor:

  • CPU voltage, +3.3V, + 5V, +12V
  • RPM of 3 fans
  • CPU temperature (by the embedded CPU sensor)
  • Board temperature (by the on-board sensor)

Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors:

  • Processor socket LGA775
  • 4 x DDR2 SDRAM DIMM (up to 4 GB DDR2 400/533)
  • 1 x PCI Express x16 (with a latch)
  • 3 x PCI Express x1
  • 3 x PCI (2.3, 32-bit)
  • Power connectors: 24-pin ATX and 4-pin for 12 V
  • 1 x FDD
  • 3 x IDE (Parallel ATA 133) to connect hard disks and optical drives
  • 8 x SATA connectors supporting RAID 1, 0, 0+1, JBOD
  • Two connectors for brackets with additional USB ports
  • 1 x CD/DVD audio connector
  • Standard IrDA connector
  • Header for the bracket with additional Audio-Outs
  • 3 x fan headers (all with RPM control)

Back panel (left to right, blockwise):




  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard
  • LPT, 1 x COM, S/PDIF (coaxial), 1394b port
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 6 x Audio (Mic-In, Line-In, Front, Center/Sub, Rear, Side)

Package Contents:




  • Package: elegant box with a motherboard
  • Documentation: user's manual in English
  • Floppies with drivers for all RAID controllers
  • CD with drivers and utilities
  • 3 x 80-pin ATA cables (round)
  • 1 x FDD cable
  • 8 x SATA data cables
  • 4 x SATA power cables (for two devices each)
  • Rear cable/bracket assembly with 4 x USB 2.0 ports
  • Rear cable/bracket assembly with 1 x 4-pin + 1 x 6-pin IEEE-1394 connectors
  • Rear cable/bracket assembly with 1 x coax-out
  • Rear I/O shield

Peculiarities:

  • SuperBoot – to restore valid BIOS settings after failed overclocking
  • SuperBIOS - Protect – to protect a computer from viruses
  • SuperRecovery – to protect and restore data on HDD
  • SuperSpeed – a set of functions for safe overclocking (Ratio Free, CPU Clock Ratio, Auto Detect PCI Clk, Spread Spectrum, OverClock)

Integrated Controllers:

  • Audio, based on HD Audio codec Realtek ALC880 supporting 7.1 channel audio, with front line-in/out and S/PDIF
  • Network, based on the BROADCOM BCM 5789 chip supporting 1 GB/sec (Gigabit) Ethernet
  • Network, based on the BROADCOM BCM4401/BCM5788 chip supporting 1 GB/sec (Gigabit) Ethernet
  • Silicon Image 3114 RAID (four Serial ATA ports with RAID support: RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, JBOD)
  • ITE 8212F IDE RAID (supports 2 Ultra DMA 133/100/66 and RAID: RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1, JBOD)
  • TSB 82 AA 2, IEEE 1394 (FireWire) controller supporting two 1394a ports (400 Mbit/sec) and one 1394b port (800 Mbit/sec)

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16bit, 44 kHz using the RightMark Audio Analyzer 5.4 test application and the Terratec DMX 6fire sound card:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB:
+0.16, -0.51
Good
Noise level, dB (A):
-79.2
Average
Dynamic range, dB (A):
78.9
Average
THD, %:
0.011
Good
Intermodulation, %:
0.048
Good
Channel crosstalk, dB:
-81.3
Very good

General performance: Good (Details).

Settings:

Jumpers and switches Clear CMOS jumper
In Award BIOS v6.00PG Memory timings CAS Latency Time, DRAM RAS# to CAS# Delay, DRAM RAS# Precharge, Precharge Delay (tRAS);
Memory frequency selection
PCI-E bus setup +
PCI bus setup +
PCIE bus voltage control
PCI and PCIE frequency divider setup PCI-E=100-200 MHz at 1 MHz steps PCI=33.33, 36.36, 40 MHz
PCI IRQ manual assignment
FSB frequency setup
CPU multiplier x12, x13
CPU core voltage control
CPU voltage control +
Memory voltage control +

We used BIOS dated 24.10.2004, the latest available BIOS version at the time of our tests.

Performance:

Foxconn 925XE demonstrates good test results, which is quite expectable from a high end motherboard. We liked very much the irreproachable stable operation and the lack of any glitches. Differences between the results demonstrated by Foxconn and MSI 925XE Neo Platinum are insignificant, so it's hard to say for sure which motherboard is faster. And a couple of seconds must not play a pivotal role when choosing one of these motherboards.

Test
Foxconn 925XE7AA-8EKRS2 (DDR2 533)
ASUS P5AD2-E Premium (DDR2 533)
MSI 925XE Neo Platinum Edition (DDR2 533)
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec
7:53
7:53
7:34
Memory read rate, MB/sec
2978
3021
2992
Memory write rate, MB/sec
1246
1362
1220
MPEG4/XVID encoding, min:sec
5:25
5:43
5:25
MPEG 4/DIVX Encoding, min:sec
3:57
4:14
3:56
Processing images in Photoshop, min:sec
35:20
35:16
34:36
UT2004 (Fast@800x600x32), fps
69
67
68
UT2004 (High@1280x1024x32), fps
64
63
64

Conclusion:

Foxconn 925XE7AA-8EKRS2 is well equipped: besides the Silicon Image controller supporting four SATA ports, there is also an ITE controller for Ultra ATA/133, two gigabit Ethernet controllers from Broadcom. Also note three PCIE x1 ports and a FireWire controller. Foxconn has launched a reliable, high-quality product, which can satisfy the most demanding requirements. But these satisfied requirements come at a cost.

References






Vladimir Senchihin (sench@ixbt.com)
March, 2005


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