Result and general impression
++++ The Foxconn C51XEM2AA-8EKRS2H motherboard has a price of approx. 160 Euro (11/2006) and is thus in the upper price segment of the Socket AM2 motherboards.
Without anticipating the result, this Socket AM2 board is a dream for overclocker, because this mainboard has as many OC options, that it’s possible to write dozens of OC guides. But let us first begin with the extensive equipment of this motherboard.
Equipment and other features …
As already mentioned in the recent PCIe SLI (2 PCIe graphics card slots) reviews, most of the SLI motherboards offers as a result of the standardized ATX form factor only 2 PCI slots. Unfortunately Foxconn likewise only succeeded to spend this board two PCI card slots.
The Foxconn C51XEM2AA motherboard (model 8EKRS2H) offers however two PCIe 16x Slots, one PCIe 1x Slot and one PCIe 4x Slot for newer extension cards.
One sees the trend to newer components also with the assignment of the I/O connectors, because Foxconn offers unfortunately no parallel port and also only one serial COM port. Hardware developer as well as owner of commercial LPT LCD or G-LCD Displays, or owner of older printers will miss these ports. That is the more annoying, as the integrated Winbond W83627EHG IO controller offers the parallel port, a Gameport, a MIDI port and an IrDA connector. If you like to use these ports, you need a very good SMD soldering equipment, a few resistor rows, capacitors and a special modified BIOS. There are further information with example circuits and the data sheet available at the chip manufacturer Winbond.
Something similar applies to the IDE port, because Foxconn offers on this board only one IDE connector for up to 2x conventional ATA 133 HDDs.
We come now again to the positive characteristics of the fast C51XEM2AA motherboard, because there are 6x SATA II connectors, which can operate in different RAID modes. Extensive explanations concerning to the possible RAID settings and the proceeding to install a Microsoft Windows operating system with RAID arrays are described in the manual. By the way there are so many cables and IO slot brackets included that the height of the motherboard box had to be doubled.
The Foxconn C51XEM2AA mainboard can be equipped with up to 4x DDR2 memory modules and the memory is expandable depending on the used operating system to maximally 8 GB. The allocation for the DUAL Channel memory support is specified in the manual and is shown by colored DDRII slots.
In addition there are 6x USB 2.0 connectors at the ATX panel, two internal USB 2.0 plugs for 4 additional USB 2.0 ports, 1x IEEE1394b (800 MBit/s) at the ATX panel, 2x IEEE1394a (400 MBit/s) internally and 2x onBoard 1 Gigabit LAN connectors with WoL support (Wake on LAN).
Furthermore there is the new RealTek ALC-8820 sound chip onBoard, which offers the full 7.1 Surround sound and digital enhancements. An optical SPDIF digital output and 5x 3.5mm jacks are available at the ATX panel.
Another feature is that there are 2 buttons for Power and Reset integrated on the motherboard. The two buttons for Power and Reset are optimally for working inside of the PC case, because it’s not necessary to connect any front panel button cables to start the PC. In addition there is a 7-segment post code display (Debug LED) which is well-known on EPoX boards to the check possible bootup failures, which are of course specified in the manual.
Here is a picture of the two buttons (at the bottom left), Debug LED, active MCP cooler, etc …
BIOS and Overclocking …
Let us now begin with the most important BIOS options and the unbelievable BIOS overclocking. With the Delete key one can enter the Award BIOS as usual to get all hardware settings.
Beside extensive memory timing settings like the memory frequency setting from 200 MHz over 266 MHz and 333 MHz up to 400 MHz (DDR2 400/533/667/800), the BIOS offers a host clock from 200 MHz up to 500 MHz. The nVidia nForce 590 SLI chipset offers additionally a separated MPC clock setting. MCP stands for Media and Communication Processor, which can be clocked independently of the SPP from 200 MHz up to 500 MHz. Good overclocking results are nearly guaranteed, because the processor can be overclocked thus independently of nearly all other components.
The HT (hypertransport) multiplier can be adjusted from 1x to 5x (200-1000 MHz) and offers with a doubling up to 2000 MHz.
But thus not yet enough overclocking features! The BIOS offers the possibility to save up to four different profiles for voltage and timing settings so that one can restore once reached overlocking goals at any time.
By the asynchronous MCP/SPP clocking succeeded a great reference clock overlocking up to 330 MHz ! For the AMD Athlon64 3000+ Socket AM2 CPU with the 9x multiplier lock (upward locked) it’s an almost unbelievable result of approx. 3000 MHz – really nice !
The result was reached with default MCP/SPP voltage and can be overclocked a bit more by an increasing of the voltages owing to the active MCP cooling and the passive SPP cooling. So far it is however not completely clear whether the CPU or the chipset did not go more highly, because in spite of the BIOS multiplier decreasement the multi remained on 9x. I think that this bug is surely removed in a newer BIOS version.
There are also extensive settings for the memory voltage, as well as the CPU voltage and the overview of all important values in the system monitor page of the BIOS.
Also the overclocking protection worked perfectly in the test. When there are incorrect values or too high overclocking settings to fail the PC startup, the board will continue with default values within a few seconds. And if the DDRII memory is overclocked too high, or if there’re any other hardware failures, the BIOS Post error can be read off immediately from the Debug LED.
The Foxconn C51XEM2AA-8EKRS2H Socket AM2 PCIe motherboard offers with that nVidia nForce 590 SLI MCP chipset excellent features to overclock, the so far best performance, a great equipment and extensive accessories for a fair price.
Two 16x PCI express Slots, four DDR2-800 Slots up to 8 GB memory, six S-ATA II connectors, ten USB 2.0 ports, two 1 Gigabit LAN connectors and wonderful OC features is not my list of wishes for Christmas, but rather the excellent equipment of the new Foxconn C51XEM2AA-8EKRS2H Socket AM2 motherboard. Only the missing LPT port and one ATA-133 port is certainly somewhat annoying for some buyers.
All in all the Foxconn C51XEM2AA-8EKRS2H SLI mainboard hard-earned the Redaktion ocinside.de OverClocking Dream Award 11/2006 – go on this way!
Special thanks to Foxconn for their support.
**** All Socket 939 motherboard reviews since 01.11.2006 are based on an AMD Athlon 64 3000+ Orleans CPU, 1x (or SLI systems with 2x) Gigabyte GV-NX66T128VP Nvidia 6600 GT PCI Express video cards, 2x512MB Crucial Ballistix DDR2-800/PC2-6400 memory modules and the following software configuration: Microsoft Windows XP SP2, DirectX 9.0c, Forceware 81.85 video driver and 3DMark 2003. All benchmark results should only offer a comparison among themselves for a comparison.