Foxconn's choice of colour scheme is quite frankly not to our taste, even though we've seen quite a few red PCBs go down well, the component colours are sporadic. We saw a range of black and orange DigitaLife boards at Computex this year
, yet, this DigitaLife edition doesn't follow the same good looking ethos.
The pin-outs and sockets are generally well placed, except for the two blue SATA ports, one of which invariably gets lost when you use long PCI-Express cards in CrossFire. There are backlit onboard, reset and clear CMOS buttons, as well as a two digit POST readout that are great for bench testers.
There are four PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slots included - the two blue either work at full x16 together, or using all four for CrossFireX gives a maximum of x8 a piece. This is a great feature for a variety of CrossFire or performance PCI-Express card combinations, but you'll need to arrange the cards around the limited single slot space available.
Additionally, there is both a single PCI-Express 2.0 x1 and PCI slot available as well, but these disappear once you use dual height graphics cards - however like all PCI-Express the black x16 slots can be used by any card x1-x16.
AMD's chipsets don't require huge amounts of cooling and so the northbridge and southbridge get relatively small heatsinks and a sedate-looking heatpipe array that extends to the MOSFET heatsink. We found that under our stress test with a high power Phenom Black Edition CPU, the heatsinks got really quite hot and, although they're still touchable, they could benefit from some extra airflow. Foxconn uses a five-phase design with sealed Ferrite cored chokes and all solid aluminium capped capacitors that extend to use across the board. It's enough to handle even the 140W Phenom 9950 Black Editions, but on the other end of things there's no per-phase power regulation like some other boards feature.
Foxconn offers the bare minimum of six SATA from the southbridge, although there is dedicated eSATA on the rear I/O, however thanks to the multitude of PCI-Express slots adding another performance RAID card is a doddle.
The four DDR2 slots are colour coded according to memory channel and a placed high enough above the upper PCI-Express x16 slot to easily get memory in and out.
And that's pretty much it; for flagship board Foxconn all this includes are what we'd consider the core features, with a few lighty buttons and a two digit POST LED readout that others have been doing for years - there's simply no real innovation. We know Foxconn can innovate though - just look at the Ultra ATX board shown off at tradeshows or the Quantum Force motherboards.
On first sight of the Ultra ATX actually working
and running multiple applications across a dozen monitors, I was told that while it
specifically was not made to be put on sale, but instead to show what Foxconn's engineers can do. I can't help but feel that as consumers we're still waiting to see the fruits of that labour.