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3 октября 2005, 13:22

Foxconn 955X7AA-8EKRS2 on Intel 955X Express chipset. Part II

Complete set, BIOS Setup and tests of productivity

955X7AA-8EKRS2 Packaging

Foxconn 955X7AA-8EKRS2 motherboard has an excellent package, the same as elite competitors offer– in my practice I didn’t see such motherboards with excellent coverage of the various tweaking and overclocking adjustments very often. Foxconn has been very innovative with the features and design of this motherboard. Faxconn provides multiple component functionality into single package. However, in comparison with Foxconn 925XE7AA board, we can find here some changes - see table 3.

Table 3. Package. Foxconn 955X7AA-8EKRS2 in comparison with Foxconn 925XE7AA-8EKRS2 board.
BoardFoxconn 925XE7AA-8EKRS2Foxconn 955X7AA-8EKRS2
PackageSupport CD, user's manual (or installation guide), rear I/O shield, 1 x floppy drive cable, 1 x HDD/ODD drive cable (supports UDMA/ATA 33/66/100/133 drives)RAID driver on floppy disk(s)8 x SATA data cables, 4 x SATA power cable (each supports 2 drives), 2 extra HDD/ODD drive cables (each supports UDMA/ATA 33/66/100/133 drives)Non-SATA drive cables are round and sheathed at the connectorsRear cable/bracket assembly w/ 4 x USB 2.0 ports Rear cable/bracket assembly w/ 1 x 4-pin + 1 x 6-pin IEEE-1394 connectorsSupport CD, user's manual (or installation guide), rear I/O shield, 1 x floppy drive cable, 1 x HDD/ODD drive cable (supports UDMA/ATA 33/66/100/133 drives)RAID driver on floppy disk(s)8 x SATA data cables, 4 x SATA power cable (each supports 2 drives), 1 extra HDD/ODD drive cable (supports UDMA/ATA 33/66/100/133 drives)Non-SATA drive cables are round and sheathed at the connectorsRear cable/bracket assembly w/ 2 x USB 2.0 ports Rear cable/bracket assembly w/ 1 x 1394b connector

Please look for package on the following photo (tested sample, obviously, didn’t have all necessary cables):

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Package. Foxconn 955X7AA-8EKRS2

Foxconn has included tons of accessories with this board to ensure hassle free installation, for "tech support" in the package there are two very well written manuals (motherboard and three RAID-controllers - ICH6R, SiI3114 and ITE8212F) and also a CD with necessary software and three separate driver diskettes for the various RAID-controllers, useful for installation process. The retail style box, with magnetic "latches" and "surrounded" by plastic, contains the Foxconn 955XE7AA motherboard and all accessories in one.

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Foxconn 955X7AA-8EKRS2 in style box.

We can say that most of the motherboards are in traditional cardboard box and among them this Foxconn box looks rather presentably.

BIOS Configuration:

At first glance the BIOS looks like any other Phoenix-Award BIOS configuration, however Foxconn has always added a few tweaks for their motherboards that enthusiasts will be happy to see. When you enter Award BIOS Setup of Foxconn 955X7AA-8EKRS2 motherboard you’ll come across of usual options, typical for boards on the given chipset - for example, PnP/PCI configurations and PC Health Status. Under the BIOS Features menu are the SuperBoot, SuperBIOS-Protect, SuperRecovery Hotkey, and SuperSpeed options. These settings have been on all Foxconn motherboards we have reviewed in the past, so we won't go into details about each of the settings except for the SuperSpeed. Tweaking and overcklocking are certainly welcome for board on such top chipset already (which Intel’s motherboards already have). Foxconn also includes several Windows based "SuperUtilities" that allow tweaking and monitoring.

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You can control four basic memory timing options and other parameters (see photo).

Foxconn 955X7AA-8EKRS2 - Super Utilities (BIOS Features)

Under the BIOS Features menu are the SuperBoot, SuperBIOS-Protect, SuperRecovery Hotkey, and SuperSpeed options combined by the manufacturer into one group Super Utilities (BIOS Features). These settings have been on all Foxconn motherboards see review "Reservation of data on a hard disk from BIOS Setup on Foxconn motherboard" for details, so lets stop only on the SuperSpeed. The SuperSpeed menu is essentially the main overclocking page, with a full set of options for tweaking the motherboard & CPU. System voltage can be adjusted up to a maximum (up to +0,1875V. with step 0,0125V.) to the standard core, memory (up to +0,18V. with step 0,06V.) and chipset (on 0,15V.with step and 0,05V.), and also multiplier and CPU frequencies (FSB from 200 up to 265 MHz with step of 1 MHz), memory (1:1 or 3:4 in relation to FSB), PCI Express bus (from 100 up to 200 MHz with individual step) and PCI (33, 36, 40 MHz or synchronously with PCI Express). All these opportunities are supported by means of Windows SuperUtilities program.

For tests we used BIOS ver. 4bgf1p32.bin. On regular frequencies board worked (with dispersed timings) without problems (also on the bus 1066 MHz). Necessary to note, that on default adjustments Foxconn 955X7AA-8EKRS2 board maintains values of all base frequencies - for example, 200,0 MHz for FSB frequency (and 3200,1 MHz for frequency of the corresponding processor). It is almost the same as for Intel boards (coincidence was observed - 200,0 and 3200,0 MHz).

Tests

To test Foxconn 955X7AA-8EKRS2 motherboard at various memory frequencies and timings and for comparison with other boards on Intel 925XE Express chipsets, Intel 945P Express and NVIDIA nForce4 SLI Intel Edition (comparison with all main competitors) was used Intel Pentium 4 540 processor (Prescott, 3.2 GHz) with Intel cooler for Pentium 4 LGA775 from Sanyo Denki, and also ATI X800XT videoaccelerator (on GPU frequencies and memory 500 MHz with Catalyst 5.5 driver) and DDR2-675 memory (Kingston modules KHX5400D2K2/1G – 2 x 512 Mb); in the table below you can see minimal memory timings of this motherboard on frequencies 667 and 533 MHz (we used only lowered "overcklocking" memory timings - CL=4--4-4-12 for DDR2-667, CL=3--3-3-7 for DDR2-533, more typical for "advanced" systems, for which the given boards and Intel 955X Express chipset are intended). Here, we limited by processor with the system bus 800 MHz (as a dominating one in current and nearest future), cause two Pentium 4 Extreme Edition (with FSB 1066 MHz) – are quiet rare guests in the market and to judge this chipset by them would be not correct. Systems placed in Arbyte YY-W201BK-A case with HIPRO HP-W460GC31 (460 W) and tested under Windows XP control.

For comparison we’ve used four boards on the high-efficiency Intel chipsets, working with the same processors and two-channel DDR2 memory:

  • Gigabyte GA-8I945P-G (see review "Chipset Intel 945P Express: the first look") on the new Intel 945P Express chipset (it will work with low-CAS DDR2-533 memory as the most suitable for such system);
  • ASUS P5AD2-E Premium on Intel 925XE Express chipset (with DDR2-533 memory) – is one of the fastest board on this chipset;
  • Foxconn 925XE7AA-8EKRS2 on Intel 925XE Express chipset (with low-CAS DDR2-533 memory), see review "Foxconn 925XE7AA-8EKRS2 motherboard";
  • MSI P4N Diamond on NVIDIA nForce4 SLI Intel Edition chipset with DDR2-667 memory and low-CAS DDR2-533 memory, see review on website.

Test results. Table 4.

Table 4. Test results with different board’s applications
Chipseti955X Expressi925XE Expressi945P ExpressNVIDIA nForce4 SLI Intel Edition
MotherboardFoxconn 955X7AAFoxconn 925XE7AAASUS P5AD2-E PremiumGigabyte GA-8I945P-GMSI P4N Diamond
MemoryDDR2-667DDR2-533DDR2-533DDR2-533DDR2-533DDR2-667DDR2-533
Memory Timings4-4-4-103-3-3-73-3-3-73-3-3-73-4-3-74-4-4-123-3-3-7
CPU frequency , MHz3200,13200,13200,13211,53231,83200,13200,1
FSB è DDR , MHz (CPU-Z)200200200200,7202200200
Everest 1.51, Memory Read Speed, Mb/ s5820579057705910530058005790
Everest 1.51, Memory Write Speed, Mb/ s2050200020602120199023102300
Everest 1.51, Memory Latency, ns85,781,68580,388,982,784,6
ScienceMark 2.0, Primordia (Ar), s31,9832,193231,8531,9131,9532,05
ScienceMark 2.0, AES, Mb/ s101,37101,43101,39101,69102,19101,34101,34
ScienceMark 2.0, Total Score974,24969,71973,99985,35976,76983,75983,11
MetaBench 0.98, overall score3389334333773393336933693364
PCmark04, total score5222519051545036516052065198
MPEG2 to MPEG4 encoding (DivX 5.21), s150151152149150148,6149
WinRAR 3.41 archiving, s162161165158167162162
WinRAR 3.41 Benchmark, Kb/ s468475447494449459457
Windows Media Encoder 9, s625626631625628627625
3Dmark05, Graphic score5597559356085608559856185611
3Dmark05, CPU score4480444643484710445244234341
3Dmark03, Graphic score11914119071192611926118751202311968
3Dmark03, CPU score902899900917892897885
Unreal Tournament 2003, dm-anubis, fps106,38106,74106,02108,09105,12109,21108,62
Unreal Tournament 2004, dm-rankin, fps90,5490,8890,492,1789,7392,9192,32
Vulpine GLMark 1.1p, 1024x768x32 bit, fps130,7130,8130,7133,2126,9131,7129,5
Wolfenstein ET (demo radar), 1024x768x32 bit, fps86,986,886,888,186,88887,6
Quake III Arena, demo Crusher, 1024x768x32 bit, fps190,8191,2191,2194190195,1193,1
X2 The Threat Benchmark. fps138,296138,299138,527141,488138,442140,451140,385
Gun Metal, Benchmark 2, 1024x768x32 bit, fps57,457,857,6858,257,0159,1858,84
RealStorm Benchmark 2004, 640x480, index2359235923552374237123662364
DOOM 3, 1024x768, fps81,88281,584,180,882,982,9
Far Cry. 1024x768, fps68,3468,5768,57067,3970,269,6
CineBench 2003, OpenGL Shading Hardware, CB-GFX3414334331953234339833533271
CineBench 2003, OpenGL Shading Software, CB-GFX1494149114931504150114991494
CineBench 2003, Shading (CINEMA 4D), CB-GFX367366366369369369368
CineBench 2003, Rendering, CB-CPU337337337338339337337
SPEC viewperf v8.0.1, 3dsm-03, index15,8615,8715,8616,3515,0616,0316,04
SPEC viewperf v8.0.1, proe-03, index15,7315,6315,415,4615,6216,0715,58
SPEC viewperf v8.0.1, sw-01, index13,213,0912,7112,7613,0113,5413,05
SPEC viewperf v8.0.1, ugs-04, index14,3614,4414,5215,0714,1715,3915,22
3D-games Performance rating, %98,2598,3198,0410097,5399,5198,82
2D-games Performance rating, %99,2999,1398,3410098,6599,2199,10
3D Professional Performance rating, %100,0699,6898,7410099,28101,41100,18
Performance rating, %99,2099,0498,3710098,48100,0499,36

First of all, for Foxconn 925XE7AA-8EKRS2 board, as well as for previous one, bus and processor frequency corresponds to the rate, as for ASUSTeK and Gigabyte, as a rule, is above (+0,35-1 %), so it is necessary to take this into consideration while analysis of results.

Speed of Foxconn 955X7AA-8EKRS2 motherboard on Intel 955X Express chipset with DDR2-533 memory is identical to Foxconn 925XE7AA-8EKRS2 board on i925XE Express chipset, except for better CAS which, however, has been worse here, than at ASUS board on i925XE chipset, but better, than at MSI P4N Diamond board on NVIDIA chipset. Using of DDR2-667 memory in this case gives not so much - speed of reading raises slightly, speed of record doesn’t practically change, and even CAS makes worse, as memory need to work on high timings. With NVIDIA nForce4 SLI IE chipset, in this case, Intel 955X chipset has no so special differences, only a little bit higher recording speed of memory on NVIDIA chipset. There is no special benefit of using DDR2-667. And once more we convinced that, in practice, more advanced memory controller on nForce4 SLI Intel Edition chipset with its "well-known" DASP 3.0 doesn’t go ahead against of the best Intel chipsets, but with some problems with active memory recording (and memory copying), it can provide a small superiority.

You can see an approximate balance between Intel 955X, Intel 925XE Express and NVIDIA nForce4 SLI IE chipsets, and - at work with both types low-CAS memory (DDR2-667 CL=4--4-4 and DDR2-533 CL=3--3-3), in different applied problems and applications (see table 3). To demonstrate this, I have averaged test results by three main categories of problems – 3D games performance, 3D professional performance and applications without using 3D.

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An approximate balance productivity between various memoriesin different applied problems

You can see, that Foxconn 955X7AA-8EKRS2 board on Intel 955X Express chipset has identical speed of work with DDR2-667 CL=4--4-4 and DDR2-533 CL=3--3-3 and goes ahead of its previous version 925XE7AA-8EKRS2 less than on 1 %, though sometimes gives in to ASUS board on i925XE chipset (because of high frequency). As for comparison with MSI P4N Diamond motherboard on NVIDIA nForce4 SLI Intel Edition chipset with DDR2-667 memory and low-CAS DDR2-533, so its advantage above the heroine of the given review is about 1 % (or even less), that again confirms an approximate productivity balance between modern Intel and NVIDIA top-chipsets.

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An approximate balance productivity between boards on various chipsets

Final Conclusions

Finally, Foxconn 955X7AA-8EKRS2 motherboard based on Intel i955X Express chipset, as well as its previous one on i925XE Express chipset, surely is a high-end product, which not gives in the productivity of top-boards on NVIDIA nForce4 SLI Intel Edition chipset and a little bit surpassing some motherboards on Intel 925XE Express chipset in speed, this product differs from the last by additional useful functions – dual cores processors support, max memory, the best disk controller and so etc. On the other hand, it is not necessary to take a support of DDR2-667 memory as an attribute yet, as its use with modern processors on the bus 800 MHz doesn’t give any high-speed advantages actually due to restrictions of a system bus and a necessity of memory timings increase on such high frequencies. We’d like to congratulate Foxconn company - that it has begun successfully and continues promotion in the market of products under own brand, having such an excellent top motherboard Foxconn has been very innovative with the features and design. However, the price for 955X7AA-8EKRS2 board, actually, also rather "top" - about 200 dollars in Moscow retail shops up to date of writing this review. So if you are not running for more 1-3 % of speed, so, probably, it is better to pay attention to motherboards on Intel 945P Express chipset, most of all possess a similar set of functions, as the heroine of the given review.

Автор: Alex Karabuto