iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Foxconn A79A-S Motherboard

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System monitoring (Fintek F71883FG, BIOS Setup)

  • Processor core voltage, memory voltage, +3.3, +12, +5 V
  • RPM of two fans
  • CPU and board temperatures (by the corresponding embedded sensors)
  • Smart Fan -- automatic fan speed control (CPU and system fans), a user cannot change the control algorithm in BIOS, the only choice is Fox One utility. CPU fan control is available only for 4-pin models

Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors

  • Processor socket (Socket AM2, compatible with AM2+, officially supports all AMD Phenom X3/X4 and Athlon 64/X2/FX/Sempron processors for this socket, the list of models tested for compatibility is published on the official website)
  • 4 x DDR2 SDRAM DIMM (up to 8 GB of DDR2-400/533/667/800/1066, dual-channel mode, the list of compatible devices is published on the website)
  • 4 x PCIEx16 2.0 for graphics cards (they work as x16 when two cards are installed in CrossFire mode; when more cards are installed, they work as x8, besides, they can accommodate any other PCI Express expansion cards)
  • 1 x PCIEx1 2.0
  • 1 x PCI
  • Power connectors: standard ATX 2.2 (24 pins), 8-pin EPS12V to power a processor, 4-pin peripheral connector for additional power supply of graphics cards
  • 1 x FDD
  • 1 x IDE (Parallel ATA) for two chipset-based ATA133 devices
  • 6 x SATA II (Serial ATA II) for six SATA300 devices, chipset-based, connected drives can form RAID 0, 1, 0+1, and 5
  • 3 connectors for rear panel brackets with 6 x USB
  • 1 x CD/DVD audio connector
  • Connectors for analog audio ins and outs on the front panel
  • Connector for S/PDIF-Out
  • Connector for a bracket with a FireWire port
  • Connector for a bracket with a COM port
  • Connector for a standard IrDA module
  • Connector for a Chassis Intrusion sensor
  • Five fan headers, two of them for 4-pin fans (CPU and case) supporting rpm control and smart fan control from BIOS, the other headers are for 3-pin fans

Back panel (left to right, blockwise)

  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard
  • Coaxial and optical S/PDIF Out
  • 2 x USB
  • 2 x eSATA, 1 x FireWire (6-pin)
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • Six analog audio jacks (Line-In, Front-Out, Mic-In, Side-Out, Center/Sub, Rear-Out)

Package contents

  • Package: a large box of the typical Digital Life design
  • Documentation: User Manual in English and a poster with illustrated installation instructions in several languages
  • Cables: 6 x SATA with power converters for six devices, 1 x ATA66, and 1 x FDD cable
  • Rear panel bracket with 2 x USB and 1 x FireWire (4-pin)
  • Rear I/O shield
  • CD with drivers and Foxconn utilities

Bundled utilities include Fox One to monitor system parameters and alert the user when parameters exceed a specified threshold, to overclock the system (you can adjust frequencies of FSB/memory and voltages on the processor core, chipset, memory), and to control CPU fan speed. The bundle also includes Norton Internet Security 2008 and Fox LiveUpdate for automatic BIOS updates, this utility can also download the latest BIOS versions from the official website. The motherboard is fully compatible with AMD OverDrive, which offers much more settings. However, the proprietary utility has an interesting feature to create profiles for different activities (games, office tasks, etc). These profiles allow to specify overclocking levels. However, if you like this idea, there is a more powerful tool from AMD called AMD Fusion for Gaming Utility, which allows not only to configure various overclocking modes (for a CPU (via AOD) and a graphics card (via Catalyst CC)), but also to make playing games more comfortable by automatically stopping some background processes and services.

Integrated controllers

  • Audio, based on the chipset support for HD Audio and ALC888SDD codec, 7.1 channel audio, front line-ins/outs (with an independent stereo channel, when headphones or speakers are plugged to the outputs on the front panel) and 3 x S/PDIF-Out (optical and coaxial outputs on the rear panel can also broadcast two independent digital streams), the codec is compliant with DTS CONNECT and Dolby Digital Live, so the 5.1-channel audio stream can be output via S/PDIF-Outs, for example, to a home theater
  • 2 x Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps, based on Realtek RTL8111B controllers plugged to PCI Express
  • SATA-II, based on the PCI Express controller Jmicron JMB362 supporting two eSATA 300 ports on the rear panel
  • FireWire, based on VIA VT6308P controller supporting two IEEE1394a ports

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16 bit 44 kHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0.5 and the ESI Juli@ sound card:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.01, -0.03 Excellent
Noise level, dB (A): -84.4 Good
Dynamic range, dB (A): 84.7 Good
THD, %: 0.0065 Very good
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB(A): -77.6 Average
Intermodulation distortion + Noise, %: 0.026 Good
Channel crosstalk, dB: -83.8 Very good
IMD at 10 kHz, %: 0.016 Very good

General performance: Very good. Standard high results for this audio codec. Its modifications are installed in many motherboards. Note the extended support for digital outputs, including support for DTS/Dolby Digital decoders.

Proprietary technologies and peculiarities

  • QuickBoot makes your PC start up faster by skipping some POST procedures
  • Support for DTS Connect and Dolby Digital Life by the integrated audio codec
  • POST display

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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, design

Page 2: Interfaces, package, controllers

Page 3: BIOS, performance, conclusions

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