Result and general impression
+++ The Foxconn N5M2AA-EKRS2H motherboard has a price of approx. 60 Euro (04/2007) and is thus in the lower price segment of the Socket AM2 motherboards.
The new Foxconn N5M2AA-EKRS2H is an inexpensive solution for overclocker and all-rounder. Although the nVidia nForce 4 chipset is meanwhile somewhat outdated, Foxconn developed a good alternative to the latest Socket AM2 chipsets with this relaunch. Because beside a good basic equipment the board offers several overclocking options and was overclocked up to 300 MHz reference clock during the test. All strengths and weaknesses of the Foxconn WinFast motherboard will be shown in the review and can be compared in the overview with more than 25 AMD Athlon 64 motherboards.
Equipment and other features …
The Foxconn N5M2AA motherboard (model EKRS2H) offers one PCIe 16x Slot, two PCIe 1x Slots and four PCI Slots for conventional extension cards.
Furthermore the nForce 4 chipset of the Foxconn WinFast board offers two IDE connectors for up to 4x conventional ATA 133 HDDs and 4x SATA connectors for up to four hard disks.
The Foxconn N5M2AA motherboard can be equipped with a total of 4x DDR2 memory modules and is upgradeable up to 4 GB memory. The allocation for the DUAL Channel memory assembly is explained in the easy guide and shown by colored DDRII slots.
Besides there are 4x USB 2.0 connectors at the ATX panel, two internal USB 2.0 plugs for 4 additional USB 2.0 ports, one IEEE1394a (400 MBit/s) firewire port at the ATX panel, another internal IEEE1394a connector without slot bracket, as well as one 1 Gigabit network port with WoL (Wake on LAN) support. In addition there’re two COM ports (1x optional), one parallel ports and an IrDA connector.
The integrated onboard RealTek ALC653 sound chip offers 5.1 Surround sound and digital outputs with the internal S/PDIF connector. For the analog input and output are only 3x 3.5mm connectors available, which have to be changed by software for 5.1 surround output.
BIOS and Overclocking …
Let us go on with the BIOS options and overclocking with the BIOS. By pressing the Delete key, you get access to the Award BIOS with all hardware settings.
The BIOS offers extensive memory timings and settings for the memory frequency from 200 MHz over 266 MHz and 333 MHz up to 400 MHz (DDR2 400/533/667/800). The reference frequency is adjustable between 200 MHz and 450 MHz, and the PCIe frequency is adjustable from 100 to 145 MHz. The HT (hypertransport) multiplier can be adjusted from 1x to 5x (200-1000 MHz).
It was possible to overclock the host clock stable up to the maximum selectable 300 MHz with default chipset voltage, so the AMD Athlon64 3000+ Socket AM2 CPU used (with 9x multiplier) was overclockable to approx. 2700 MHz !
The second BIOS post shows an incorrect frequency on high host clock settings (already mentioned in the last Foxconn WinFast reviews), but the second BIOS post is only shown for a very short time and is just an information screen. So it’s easy to live with this little bug.
There are also several settings for the memory voltage, CPU voltage and chipset voltage, but it was not necessary to increase those voltages for the test CPU used, because it was stable up to the maximum selectable reference clock of 300 MHz. It wasn’t possible to determine in test, if the small chipset fan will remain silent for a long time with this frequency and temperature, but the fan offers a good cooling performance.
For security reasons there is also an option in the PC health menu to switch off the PC on a selected CPU temperature and who like to get a low noise PC, can use the integrated fan control.
The Foxconn N5M2AA-EKRS2H Socket AM2 PCIe motherboard is inexpensive and convinced with good overclocking results.
The nForce 4 chipet is by far not the most current nVidia chipset and shows above all little weaknesses regarding the Serial ATA connectors in relation to the newer 5xx chipsets. But this board still has two conventional IDE connectors for up to four ATA133 hard disks and is clearly more inexpensive than the latest chipset generation.
It was possible to overclock the N5M2AA-EKRS2H WinFast board to the maximum reference clock of 300 MHz, which is a very good basis to overclock current AMD Athlon 64 processors.
However I would like to appeal to Foxconn, that all motherboards needs an extensive manual, because extensive informations about the ports, BIOS settings, etc. are quite meaningful for many users. Btw. it’s not possible to write RTFM (Read The F… Manual) in forums, when they don’t own one 😉
All in all, the relaunch of the nForce 4 Socket AM2 board succeeded well and who like to reach high overclocking results for little money, can purchase it without hesitation.
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.