iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Foxconn A7VA Motherboard

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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 temperature thresholds to start and stop the fans, minimal fan speed (Start PWM value), and the Slope PWM value that determines how much the 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 AMD Phenoms X3/X4 and Athlons 64/X2/FX, Semprons with TDP up to 125 W, 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)
  • 1 x PCIEx16 2.0 for a graphics card
  • 2 x PCIEx1 2.0
  • 3 x PCI
  • Power connectors: standard ATX 2.2 (24 pins), 8-pin EPS12V to power a processor (it's possible to use 20-pin and 4-pin connectors, but only if a computer uses relatively low-power components, for example, processors with TDP up to 95 W and graphics cards with on-board power connectors, and you plan no overclocking)
  • 1 x FDD
  • 1 x IDE (Parallel ATA) for two chipset-based ATA133 devices
  • 6 x chipset-based SATA-II (Serial ATA II) for six SATA300 devices, connected disks can form RAID 0, 1, and 0+1
  • 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 standard IrDA module
  • Connector for a Chassis Intrusion sensor
  • Three fan headers with rpm control, CPU and system fan headers (for 4-pin fans) support smart fan control from BIOS.

Back panel (left to right, blockwise)

  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard
  • 1 x COM
  • 1 x VGA, 1 x DVI
  • 4 x USB
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • Six analog audio interfaces (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: 1 x SATA with a power converter for one SATA device, 1 x ATA66, and 1 x FDD cable
  • 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/PCIE bus, and voltages on the processor core, Northbridge, and memory), and to control CPU fan speed. The bundle also includes Fox LiveUpdate for automatic BIOS updates, this utility can also download the latest BIOS versions from the official web site. There is also an original MP3 player with karaoke and Energy Management utility for Windows. 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 Realtek RTL8111B controller connected to PCI Express

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): -87.7 Good
Dynamic range, dB (A): 87.7 Good
THD, %: 0.0071 Very good
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB(A): -81.4 Good
Intermodulation distortion + Noise, %: 0.013 Very good
Channel crosstalk, dB: -90.3 Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, %: 0.013 Very good

General performance: Very good. It's a decent implementation of the audio system based on a high-quality codec. Hence predictably high results (no nasty surprises in store, even though some manufacturers fall into this habit). It's a pity that S/PDIF Out is not installed on the rear panel.

Proprietary technologies and peculiarities

  • Smart Power LED indicates the most widespread boot errors (POST codes) by blinking the power LED in a certain manner
  • 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, performance, conclusions

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