Here is another motherboard review, trying to keep the same format as past ones, so it may help others seeking an impartial opinion. Il just outlay some specifications, that may provide more insight than online sellers offer, with opinions provided.
If you're currently looking at Socket 478 boards you'll appreciate the range is limited to less than a few boards. You would hope this would make the choice a bit easier, however chances are you're not building a new system and replacing a failed motherboard, perhaps a Gigabyte board like the last few I've personally replaced. Rather than scrapping a perfectly running computer you will want a solid motherboard.
Full driver download support can be obtained off the Foxconn website by clicking here.
This computer has been passed on to a friend, so I'll check in with them periodically on reliability over the span of time and update this review. However I have given it a good run and testing before handing it to them.
Socket 478 supporting the following CPU's:
- Celeron D
- Celeron Williamette/Northwood
- Pentium 4 Williamette/Northwood/Prescott
FSB support of 400MHz/533MHz with an ability to overclock to 800MHz
Beware if you're planning to use a Williamette CPU as you will need to make an adjustment first. There is a CPU selection jumper, near the top edge of the motherboard, close to the PSU. This is set to open by default. For the Williamette CPU you will need to set this with a jumper to short.
For all Celeron's and Pentium 4 CPU's (Northwood and Prescott), nothing apart from a casual glance to check its set on default is required.
2 x 184pin Dimm's supporting up to 1GB unbuffered non-ECC memory per Dimm (2GB total)
I would have personally liked either two Dimm's supporting 2GB each or four Dimm's supporting 1GB each. While this doesn't affect the current user, for other main system users, 2GB could be a hindrance, as well as single channel support.
Rear I/O panel:
1 x Serial port, 1 x PS/2 Keyboard and 1 x PS/2 Mouse, 1 x Audio (3 in 1), 4 x USB 2.0, 1 x RJ45 LAN jack, 1 x VGA. Expansion possibility includes IEEE1394 (Firewire 6-pin)
Extra internal features:
SPDIF out and IrDA connection
If you get this motherboard and the easy installation guide is included, you'll appreciate that's an understatement! Very light reading, unlike a full manual, but with every possible bit of information you could need for installation of the motherboard.
As well as the specifications I provided above, the guide also provides every possible bit of information you need to get started straight away. Full pin diagrams with motherboard photos from USB headers to front panel connectors mean that even a child could connect all the cabling.
For some of these internal connections you might actually find it easier to leave it to a child, as access to connections is difficult if you have large hands. I'm not a large guy, but most of the time I can plug in audio front panel leads by hand. With this board, I had to use tweezers for each wire on the audio block. Each other header connection was a bit more difficult to get to than usual. This just makes things a bit more difficult than some other boards.
Since socket 478 isn't the latest socket form factor, driver support from win98 - winXP, 32bit only, seems to be all that's on offer here. Not a big surprise, but beware of this before a purchase that driver support for Vista or 64 bit may not be available. However driver installation was alot less pain free than some other boards.
An AGP 8x slot and three PCI's come on this board. Some state it being a full sized ATX board, although others include Foxconn itself state it is a micro ATX. There could be some confusion here as you could be lead to believe its a comprehensive micro ATX or a slightly limited ATX without four or five PCI slots.
The main difference between the Plus board which I am reviewing and the Pro board is sata support. Choose the Plus and you will be limited to two IDE connectors and a floppy connector. With the Pro, you will also find you have two sata ports available, which would be quite welcome. However finding the Pro version wasn't a possibility.
The location of the 4-pin CPU connector is a bit different as well. If you've got a PSU with a freakishly short 4-pin lead, then you might have problems. Instead of being between the CPU socket and Dimm's, its located up near the Northbridge (SiS) chipset. Be very careful, as you don't want to stretch it near the CPU heatsink fan an unintentionally snip a few wires!
Overall a nice board for the price, even though socket 478 boards are quite high in cost in comparison to some other sockets due to its age. £0.20 ($0.40 USD) more than a similar motherboard on sale from another OEM, which only had two USB ports among other less features. So in comparison to the competition very fairly priced. However I don't see the need for the division between Plus and Pro, just for the sake of minor board adjustments like the inclusion of sata.
Finally I do like the space around the chipsets. There is alot of breathing room and space especially by the northbridge. Many may snort at this, but when you have all your PCI slots occupied and maybe even a side case fan, the extra room will allow for plenty of airflow. Below is a picture with everything wired up to give a better perspective than small stock photos.
Last edited by wh666-666; 10-10-2008 at 04:07 PM.
Reason: Finishing review
Compaq A910em: T2330 dual core 1.6Ghz, X3100 384MB GPU, 160GB sata HDD, 2GB RAM
Gaming rig: Asus Striker II, Coolermaster GX 750w, E4600 @ 2.4Ghz, 2.5GB RAM, Zerotherm FZ 120, 9500GT 1GB
Server: Mac mini running W23k Server - 1.8Ghz dual-core, 1GB RAM, 1x80GB, 2x500GB externals + LTO1 tape backup