Whether you like the Socket 775 platform or not, one thing nice about the Intel platform is that all processors use the same socket. This kind of platform consistency makes upgrade paths clear and relatively appealing to everyone, and especially to individuals on a budget. With AMD's K8 processor series there have been socket changes at least once a year since its introduction, and budget and mainstream platforms are currently separated by different sockets; 754-pin for Sempron, 939-pin for Athlon64.
Intel's latest chipset, the 975X, looks like it's a real gem thanks to ATi CrossFire support. With ATI chipsets lacking overall performance, it makes sense for ATi to license its CrossFire technology out to Intel and gives high end gamers a high performance alternative to nVIDIA's nForce SLI.
The latest Foxconn motherboard to pass through the PCSTATS test
labs is the 975X7AA-8EKRS2H, and it is a flagship motherboard for the Intel
Pentium LGA775 processor platform. The Foxconn 975X7AA-8EKRS2H motherboard is powered by the Intel 975X Northbridge and Intel ICH7R Southbridge. It supports all Socket 775 processors that run on the 533/800/1066 MHz FSB; from Intel Celeron D right through to Pentium 4/D/XE.
This particular Foxconn motherboard comes fully loaded,
but consumers should be aware that base models are also available. The
975X7AA-8EKRS2H includes support for dual PCI Express x16 Crossfire videocards,
and in terms of expansion ports boasts two PCI, two PCI Express x1 and two PCI Express x16 slots. Round back by the I/O we find two twin Gigabit network jacks, four USB2.0 jacks, optical and coaxial SPDIF connectors and even an eSATA jack among the usually list of suspects. Storage is taken care of with a 3Gbps Serial ATA II RAID controller, and the board also incorporates a 7.1 channel jack sensing Intel high definition Azalia audio system. There isn't much need for any of the expansion slots.... but never the less there they are.
AS an OEM entered manufacturer for most of its history, Foxconn has certainly done an excellent job catering its motherboards towards consumers building their own computer systems from scratch. The quick installation guide and user's manual accompanying the 975X7AA-8EKRS2H board is detailed and clear, and the board itself is appropriately labeled.
At first glance, the Silicon Image SiI3132 Serial ATA II/RAID controller might look out of place near the ATX12V connector, but the controller is placed there because the Foxconn 975X7AA-8EKRS2H has an external Serial ATA II channel at the rear I/O.