iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Foxconn A7DA-S Motherboard

A nearly perfect implementation of the AMD 790GX chipset.

November 27, 2008

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System monitoring (ITE IT8716F-S, BIOS Setup)

  • Voltages on a processor core, memory, Northbridge, +3.3, +12, +5 V
  • RPM of two fans
  • CPU and board temperatures (by the corresponding embedded sensors)
  • Smart Fan, automatic control of CPU and system fans; you can specify a temperature threshold, when the system starts adjusting fan speed, and Start PWM Value (minimum fan speed until the temperature threshold is crossed). Fan speed grows according to the Slope PWM value (how much fan speed grows per each degree). Fan control is supported only for 4-pin fans.

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 web site)
  • 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 web site)
  • 2 x PCIEx16 2.0 for graphics cards (CrossFire works as x8+x8)
  • 2 x PCIEx1 2.0
  • 2 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, chipset-based) for two 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
  • 4 connectors for rear panel brackets with 8 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
  • Three fan headers (all of them for 4-pin models) supporting rpm control, CPU and system fan headers support smart fan control from BIOS.

Back panel (left to right, blockwise)

  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard
  • 1 x VGA, 1 x DVI
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 2 x USB, 1 x FireWire
  • 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 standard box of the universal design, product name and some characteristics are published on stickers
  • Documentation: User Manual in English and a poster with illustrated installation instructions in several languages
  • Cables: 2 x SATA (with power converters for two devices), 1 x ATA66, and 1 x FDD cable
  • Rear panel bracket with eSATA port
  • 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, and memory; it's a handy feature, considering that we failed to use AMD OverDrive with the current BIOS version -- most options were inactive), and to control CPU fan speed. Fox LiveUpdate is responsible for automatic BIOS updates, this utility can also download the latest BIOS versions from the official web site. The bundle also includes Norton Internet Security 2008.

Integrated controllers

  • Audio, based on the chipset support for HD Audio and Realtek ALC888 codec, 7.1 channel audio, front line-ins/outs and S/PDIF-Out
  • Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps, based on Broadcom BCM5784 controller connected to PCI Express
  • FireWire, based on VIA VT6308S 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: +0.02, -0.14 Very good
Noise level, dB (A): -86.9 Good
Dynamic range, dB (A): 87.0 Good
THD, %: 0.0040 Very good
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB(A) -80.9 Good
Intermodulation distortion + Noise, %: 0.014 Very good
Channel crosstalk, dB: -87.9 Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, %: 0.014 Very good

General performance: Very good. Time-proved codec, high-quality implementation, hence high test results. We are especially pleased with results of tests that measure various distortions and channel crosstalk. This is more important from subjective point of view than dynamic range.

Proprietary technologies and peculiarities

  • SuperBoot makes your PC start up faster: system-relevant information is stored in CMOS, so there is no need to initialize devices at startup and run self diagnostics, a computer starts to load an OS immediately; when system configuration changes (or in case of any startup error) POST procedure is started automatically to detect new hardware parameters
  • SuperBIOS-protect allows to protect BIOS from unauthorized flashing (a user can enable this feature in BIOS to block flashing attempts).

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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, design

Page 2: Interfaces, package, controllers

Page 3: BIOS, overclocking

Page 4: Performance, conclusions

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