Performance with No Limits in Mind: Asustek and Foxconn Demonstrate Non-Standard Mainboards
For years producers of mainboards tried hard to offer better performance and functionality without using certain weird cooling technologies and keeping those mainboards compliant with ATX specification. But the competition these days is so high that at least some manufacturers believe it makes sense to forget about the standards for the sake of performance and expandability.
At CeBIT 2008 both Asustek Computer and Foxconn demonstrated mainboards that are not exactly match the size of standard ATX, even though they can be installed into large ATX cases that are used by computer enthusiasts as well as system builders like Alienware and VoodooPC.
Asustek showcased its Maximus II Extreme motherboard that is based on Intel P45 core-logic and supports various Intel Core 2 central processing units with up to 1600MHz processor system bus in addition to dual-channel DDR3 memory at up to 1600MHz. The motherboard comes with really fancy cooling system for the chipset and CPU power supply circuitry, which points to the fact that the product is aimed at overclockers.
But there is an even more noticeable fact about this mainboard: it has wider print circuit board (PCB) compared to standard ATX (but is not as wide as extended ATX). According to Asus’ officials, the width of the motherboard was increased in order to optimize the layout so that to boost overclocking potential provided by Asus Maximus II Extreme. Another advantage that such design should bring is easier installation of very long graphics cards, as now graphics adapters’ cooling systems and PCBs do not touch Serial ATA or any other cables. Since computer cases for enthusiasts are usually made with extended ATX in mind, wider PCB should not add any significant problems with computer assembly.
Foxconn decided to take a little different design approach to its Quantum Force F1 motherboard that was showcased at CeBIT 2008. Instead of widening PCB, Foxconn decided to increase its length so that to install an additional PCI Express x16 slot for graphics cards. As a result, Foxconn F1 mainboard based on Intel P45 core-logic can support up to four graphics adapters and up to ten add-in cards in total.
Moreover, Foxconn Quantum Force F1 supports liquid-cooling system for chipset and microprocessor voltage regulator module (VRM) as well as peltier module on the memory controller hub (MCH). The manufacturer has reasons to believe that its F1 will become an excellent product for overclockers, which is why Foxconn bundles a special 5.25” panel that allows on-the-fly overclocking as well as allows to keep an eye on system information.
An obvious issue with Foxconn Quantum Force F1 is that it will not fit into the vast majority of available computer cases. To solve the potential problem, the company has designed a special computer case of ultimate size that is supposed to be a perfect fit for the mainboard. Pricing of the mainboard and computer case are unknown presently. It is also unclear whether Foxconn plans to include water pump into the case or users will have to pick it up themselves.