Articles: Mainboards

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Design and Impressions

As mentioned above, the two reviewed mainboards are similar in their design. Without numerous additional controllers, the PCBs of the mainboards are rather simple and neat. Every connector is in its right place on the PCB – you won’t get a mess even if you attach cables to every connector here. And yet, Foxconn’s engineers put the USB and IEEE1394 onboard headers right in front of the PCI Express x1 and PCI slots, which may be inconvenient if you’re using many expansion cards. Another fault you could find with these mainboards is that their additional 12v power connectors are placed behind the CPU socket, so the cable will most likely go right above the CPU cooler. On the other hand, the Clear CMOS jumper is always accessible when the mainboard is installed in the system case.

You may also encounter difficulties installing memory modules into the Foxconn 915A01-8EKRS2 – it has one PCI slot more than the 925A01-8EKRS2 and the DIMM slot latches are blocked by the installed PCI Express x16 graphics card. The Foxconn 925A01-8EKRS2 is free from that problem.

Another minor drawback of these mainboards is the availability of two fan connectors: besides the CPU cooler, you can only attach one system fan to them.

The Foxconn 925A01-8EKRS2 and 915A01-8EKRS2 allow installing massive cooling systems without any problems – even the new gigantic coolers from Zalman fit easily as large components and slots are all at a sufficient distance away from the CPU socket.

The connections panel of the 925A01-8EKRS2 carries two traditional PS/2 ports, two serial and one parallel port, six audio jacks, four Hi-Speed USB connectors, one FireWire port, and one RJ-45 network connector with two integrated LED indicators. The 915A01-8EKRS2 offers the same, except it has only one serial (COM) port.

Foxconn 915A01-8EKRS2 back panel

Foxconn 925A01-8EKRS2 back panel

The CPU voltage regulator on the Foxconn 925A01-8EKRS2 is three-channel, on the Foxconn 915A01-8EKRS2 – dual-channel. The coils and MOSFETs employed in the modules of both mainboards are rather small, but the capacitors from Rubycon are a kind of warranty of reliability. When a powerful processor is installed, the MOSFETs become perceptibly hot, especially on the Foxconn 915A01-8EKRS2. So, in order to avoid any troubles, you must make sure the CPU cooler is blowing at the CPU voltage regulation module, too.

Foxconn 915A01-8EKRS2 voltage regulator

Foxconn 925A01-8EKRS2 voltage regulator

Massive aluminum heatsinks are mounted on the chipsets of the mainboards. We say this is sufficient cooling, and it’s rather good Foxconn didn’t add to the system’s noise by employing active cooling here.

Note also that the chipset’s South Bridges on both mainboards are without any heatsinks and are rather hot when working. The mainboards do have fastenings for a South Bridge heatsink, but Foxconn quite unwisely saved on it.

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