Foxconn A690GM2MA-8KRS2H - a Motherboard Based on AMD 690G (Socket AM2) Chipset
Foxconn hasn't produced motherboards on AMD chipsets under its brand before. But now it has decided to join the majority supporting the new AMD 690G. In contrast to the rest of companies, Foxconn has chosen to use this chipset exclusively for making microATX boards without the support for HDMI, this chipset's key feature, even in the higher-end versions. Therefore, such motherboards are more likely to attract system builders and ordinary users that need inexpensive systems. Thankfully, the chipset is still efficient enough and its functionality totally fits with the modern requirements.
The layout rightfully deserves to be rated as perfect. We don't even have to take into account that boards based on integrated chipsets are rarely equipped with graphics cards with bulky cooling systems. This board can house such a card just as well as any full-sized would. Another positive feature is the quite rarely seen hardware BIOS write-protection with the use of a jumper. USB ports are equipped with edges, which is another sign of user-friendliness.
In order to cool the chipset Foxconn engineers have chosen a traditional scheme, which can be found on many boards with AMD 690G chipset. The northbridge heatsink's fins are oriented perpendicular to the processor socket, so the CPU fan cannot help with cooling it. Southbridge is equipped with a low-profile compact heatsink. Such design fully satisfies the cooling requirements for this chipset.
The thee-channel CPU supply impulse voltage stabilizer uses 3 field transistors per channel, 5 OST capacitors of 3300 microfarad and 4 Rubycon capacitors of 1500 microfarad each. The supply voltage stabilizer is enhanced by using chokes with United Chemi-Con capacitors. This choice of components is quite good. Another positive attribute is the compound-covered induction coils in memory and chipset supply circuits. For some unknown reason, such coils are a commonplace for CPU stabilizers, while the other components get toy-looking coils that often squeak in high load modes.
We have made the effort of listening to this motherboard in various modes using a passive CPU cooler and registered no foreign sounds in the supply system. The board has the necessary wiring for a FireWire controller. It is installed on a more expensive version designated A690GM2MA-8EKRS2H, but that high-end product, according to official information, is only going to be shipped to Asia. In contrast, the cut-down version indexed as RS2H, which has a Fast Ethernet controller instead of a gigabit one and a 6-channel audio codec instead of the 8-channel one, is going to join the worldwide ranks of cheap boards. The board's size is 245x245 mm (standard microATX), and it is attached to the chassis using 9 screws.
System Monitoring (Fintek F71882FG, from BIOS Setup Data)
- Voltage of CPU core, memory, +3.3 +12 V and +5 V Standby;
- Rotation rate of the 2 fans;
- Temperature of the CPU (by built-in CPU sensor) and of the motherboard (by on-board sensor);
- Smart Fan - fully-automatic rotation rate control mode of the CPU and system fans. Control scheme allows for operation at a constant rate (about 60% of the maximum) until the CPU temperature exceeds 55 degrees C, then the rate starts to grow until the temperature stabilizes. Compatibility with 3-pin connector fans is provided.
Ports, Connectors and Sockets on Board Surface
- Processor socket (Socket AM2, declared support of all AMD Athlon 64/X2/FX/Sempron processors produced for this socket);
- 4 DDR2 SDRAM DIMM sockets (up to 8 GB DDR2-400/533/667/800, dual-channel mode of operation);
- 1 PCIEx16 graphics accelerator slot;
- 1 PCIEx1 slot;
- 2 PCI slots;
- Power supply connectors: standard ATX 2.2 (24 pins), 4-pin ATX12V for CPU supply;
- FDD slot;
- 1 IDE (Parallel ATA) slot for 2 chipset ATA133 devices;
- 4 SATA-II (Serial ATA II) slots for 4 SATA300 chipset devices, disks connected to them can be combined into a RAID of levels 0, 1 and 0+1;
- 3 bracket headers for 6 extra USB ports;
- TV-out bracket header;
- CD/DVD-drive audio-out header;
- Block of analog audio-in/out connectors for the computer's front panel;
- S/PDIF digital audio-out header;
- Extra COM port bracket header;
- Standard IrDA module connector;
- Chassis intrusion detector socket;
- 2 fan connectors with rotation rate control capability and "intelligent" rotation rate control available in BIOS.
Board's Rear Panel (Left to Right, by Blocks)
click to view the board in 3/4 perspective from the rear panel side
- PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports;
- 1 VGA, 1 DVI, 1 LPT;
- 2 USB ports;
- 2 USB ports and 1 RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet) port;
- 6 analog audio sockets (Line-In, Front-Out, Mic-In, Side-Out, Center/Sub, Rear-Out).
- Packing: a small box of austere design;
- Documentation: instructions sheet with illustrated assembly directions in several languages;
- Cables: 1 SATA with a supply adapter for 2 devices, 1 ATA66 and cable for connecting a floppy drive;
- A rear panel plug that adds corresponding connectors;
- A CD with drivers and brand Foxconn utilities.
The set of brand utilities includes Tiger One, a utility for monitoring system parameters. It has an ability to signal an alarm when parameter values fall out of the predefined ranges. Tiger One provides overclocking settings present in BIOS including adjusting the frequency of FSB, memory and PCI Express bus, as well as modifying the voltage of CPU core, chipset and memory. This utility also allows controlling CPU fan speed manually. In addition, the set contains Fox LiveUpdate for updating the BIOS automatically with the ability to search for a new version on the manufacturer's web-site. An antivirus suite Norton Internet Security 2006 is also included.
- Audio controller is based on chipset HD Audio support and Realtek ALC883 codec. It allows connecting 7.1 audio systems, provides connectors for the front panel audio- ins and outs and S/PDIF-Out;
- Network, Gigabit Ethernet, controller is based on Realtek RTL8110SC, which is connected to a PCI bus, and supports modes of 10/100/1000 Mbit/s.
We have evaluated quality of the integrated audio in 16-bit 44-KHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 5.5 testing suite and ESI Juli@ sound card:
|Frequency response (40 Hz to 15 KHz), dB:
||+0.16, -0.17||Very good|
|Noise level, dB (A):
|Dynamic range, dB (A):
|IMD + N, %:
|Channel crosstalk, dB:
|IMD at 10 KHz, %:
Overall rating: Very good. Integrated audio support is implemented well. The board deserves praise for having a carefully soldered analogue codec wiring bundle, which is situated in the lower-left corner.
Brand Technologies and Features
- SuperBoot - express PC boot-up: the current system parameters are saved and instead of device initialization and self-testing control is transferred to the OS loader almost immediately at start-up; in case of system configuration change (or any boot-up error) POST is automatically executed and the new parameter values are saved;
- Tiger One - a software-hardware option that allows controlling the full range of overclocking settings, which are available in BIOS, under Windows;
- SuperBIOS-protect - hardware BIOS protection against unauthorized overwriting.
|Based on jumpers and switches||CMOS reset jumper|| |
|BIOS overwrite protection jumper|| |
|Through BIOS based on AMIBIOS 2.61
||Ability to turn specific CPU functions off||-|| |
|Memory timing settings
||1T/2T Memory Timing, CAS Latency, Min RAS Active Time, RAS to CAS Delay, Row Precharge Time, Row to Row Delay, Row Cycle Time, Precharge Time, Write-To-Read Delay and a vast selection of additional timings
|Memory clock rate selection||+||Auto, 400, 533, 667, 800 MHz (actually sets multiplier relative to HTT frequency)|
|HT bus operational settings||-|| |
|Ability to set frequencies of peripheral buses
||PCIE=100-200 MHz in 1 MHz increments
|Manual distribution of interrupts by slots
|Adjusting FSB frequency||+
||200-400 MHz in 1 MHz increments
|Adjusting CPU multiplier
|Adjusting memory voltage||+||+0.050-0.600 V in 0.05 V increments|
|Adjusting chipset voltage||+||+0.050-0.600 V in 0.05 V increments (for the northbridge)|
For testing we have used BIOS P29 04/17/07 version provided by the manufacturer. The aforementioned BIOS capabilities are available in the specified version of the BIOS. Non-standard settings were not tested for operability.
While testing the Foxconn K8T890M2AA-KRS2H we have noted the imbalance of overclocking settings. In particular, even the basic memory timings were not available. This time there is an abundance of timings, yet the selection of settings has not become more balanced. CPU multiplier and core voltage adjustment as well as HT bus multiplier options are all missing. The latter is especially vexing, because overclocking of inexpensive motherboards is usually restricted by the board's inability to operate at a higher HT clock rate. More importantly, there is no need to try to raise the clock rate above the standard (1000 MHz), since the bandwidth of this bus, which is used as a data channel between the CPU and the chipset, is plentiful.
In order to evaluate the overclocking capabilities of the board and its BIOS, we overclock our testbed CPU to the highest frequency possible that also allows for stable operation. Applying this test procedure, we are able to effectively use all of the test board's supported abilities, including increasing processor core voltage, and if necessary, correcting multipliers and adjusting system and peripheral bus frequencies. However, if lowering Hyper-Transport frequency, for example, doesn't improve overclocking performance, the default multiplier is used instead. RAM is set (by using multiplier correction) to the standard frequency for the modules being used, unless the manufacturer specifies methods for improving memory overclocking, in which case their effectiveness is also explored. In order to evaluate the overclocked system's stability, we load Windows XP and run performance tests built into WinRAR (Tools menu - Benchmark and hardware test) for 10 minutes. It is important to realize that overclocking performance varies by motherboard and is, to some extent, an individual characteristic of each specific unit. For this reason, it is impossible for us, and any other review, to determine the overclocking potential of any board with megahertz precision. The practical goal of our test is to find out if the CPU's high overclocking potential is hindered by the board and to evaluate the board's behavior in non-standard BIOS modes. This test also assesses the board's ability to automatically revert to correct frequencies in the case of system hang-ups, excessive overclocking, etc.
||Clock rate, MHz
||FSB frequency, MHz
||Core supply voltage (according to BIOS system monitoring), V
||HT bus frequency (multiplier), MHz
|Athlon 64 X2 4000+ (Windsor, 2.0 GHz)
This overclocking result is not extraordinary. As we have mentioned previously, the cause most likely is the inability to lower the HT bus frequency. The highest value for the inexpensive boards is most often in the range of 1150-1200 MHz, while in this case we cannot lower the multiplier (or at least raise the bus voltage). The board successfully reverted to default settings in cases of excessive overclocking, no problems there.
- Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+
- RAM: 2 Kingston KHX7200D2K2/1G (DDR2-800, 5-5-5-15-2T) modules of 1 GB each
- Hard drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (SATA, 7200 rpm)
- Graphics card: ATI Radeon X1900 XTX, 512 MB GDDR3
- PSU: Chieftec CFT-560-A12C
- OS: Windows XP SP2
For comparison we have chosen the Biostar TA690G-AM2 motherboard based on the same chipset. For tests with integrated graphics we have used Catalyst 7.4 video driver.
|Biostar TA690G AM2
||Biostar TA690G AM2
|Data compression using 7-Zip, min:sec
|MPEG4 (XviD) encoding, min:sec
|Unreal Tournament 2004 (Low@640x480), fps
|Unreal Tournament 2004 (High@1024x768), fps
|FarCry (Medium@800x600), fps
|DOOM III (Medium@800x600), fps
Foxconn motherboard demonstrates slightly higher performance while operating with a discrete graphics card. When the integrated graphics card is used, its performance drops a little more in computational tests, while the game tests produce equal results.
We were pleased with the board from the technical standpoint and with the way it was equipped. Yet the low overclocking potential was somewhat disappointing. However, among the consumers of motherboards with integrated graphics there are not so many overclocking fans. Besides, there are quite a few other boards based on AMD 690G that rightfully deserve their attention. The Foxconn model was not designed for such enthusiasts. The modest and practical set of available video sockets (VGA and DVI) indirectly supports that claim. This board is more likely to be suitable for a work computer. Whereas if we want to build an HTPC, it is reasonable and possible to allow for support of at least one HDMI socket.
This model on the manufacturer's website.
The board was provided for tests by the manufacturer
Dmitriy Laptev (firstname.lastname@example.org)
November 9, 2007
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