From dual-channel DDR/DDR2 memory to dual videocards and now dual-core processors, major components inside the PC are teaming up for a smoother ride and/or more performance. What's next, dual motherboards?
want to go with a dual videocard system, the only game in town right now is nVIDIA and its nForce4-SLI chipset. ATi announced its Radeon
Xpress 200 CrossFire edition chipset and supporting videocards too, but it's been over
a month and a half already and nothing real has appeared. I think it's safe to categorize Crossfire as another ATI paper launch for now.
Despite nothing substantial arriving from the ATi
camp, news of the Radeon Xpress 200 CrossFire Edition has caused nVIDIA to slash
its chipset prices. With nVIDIA currently offering both the better motherboard
chipset and videocard GPU, enthusiasts really couldn't ask for
consider yourself a hardcore gamer and want the power that two
videocards bring but are not much into overclocking, then Foxconn has the mobo for you. The WinFast NF4SK8AA-8KRS is
a no-frills AMD Athlon64 socket 939, nVidia nForce4 SLI chipset based motherboard with a retail
price of approximately $150 CDN ($125 USD). Standard features are limited to a 7.1 channel audio
controller and Gigabit LAN but there's plenty of expansion room if you need
more, with three PCI slots and a single PCI Express x1 slot. Drive support
extends to 4 SATAII and four IDE devices.
||Foxconn WinFast NF4SK8AA-8KRS
Users Manual, Quick Install Guide, Driver
CD, SATA Driver Diskette, Two Ultra/133 IDE Cables, Two Serial ATA Cables,
One Floppy Cable, Two Molex Y Serial ATA Splitter Cables,
SLI Bracket, SLI Retention Bracket, I/O
glance, the Foxconn WinFast NF4SK8AA-8KRS is an odd shade of
a pair of some nice green PCI Express x16 slots. The physical SLI switch rests between them. The motherboard measures in at 24.5 x 30cm in size (standard ATX)
and mounts to the motherboard tray via nine screw-points. Considering this is a full-size ATX board, we'd recommend installing it in a full size midtower case with good airflow.
The layout of components and ports on the Foxconn NF4SK8AA-8KRS motherboard is good in general, and it's
nice to see that Foxconn engineers have placed the main 24 pin ATX
power, floppy and HDD IDE cable connectors to the right of the four DDR DIMM slots. These cables
are the largest and keeping them together means they are easier to
Serial ATA ports and headers are located by the edge of the board where they are also easy
to access. With PCI and PCI Express peripherals steadily growing in
size, having these ports at the edge of the board keeps the space clear
for expansion cards.
Considering PCI Express is the way of the
future, I would have liked to see a couple more PCI Express x1 slots on the board.
Having only one limits the upgradability of the NF4SK8AA-8KRS.
SLI mode on the motherboard, one must flip the selector switch which resides just between
the two PCI Express x16 slots. I would have preferred a BIOS switch or an
automatic sensing mechanism, but it's definitely better than swapping 10-or-20
jumpers. Manipulating the switch lock can be difficult if you have a large hand,
since the space between the two PCI-E x16 slots is very tight.
The user's manual that accompanies the NF4SK8AA-8KRS motherboard is
very good and covers a whole range of topics from hardware settings, physically
installing the motherboard into the PC case, and BIOS options and setting up
software. This manual is worth a read even if you are an experienced
About the only thing I have to complain about is the fact that
Foxconn did not include many I/O brackets with its motherboard. Having ten
USB 2.0 ports is great, but if six need brackets (which are not included), it kind
of defeats the purpose.