Foxconn 915A03-P-8EKRS - Page 5

..:: 915A03-P-8EKRS Layout: Southbridge & Memory Area ::.

The Southbridge portion of the 915A03-P-8EKRS is quite clean, and well organized. As the 915A03-P-8EKRS does not come with as many additional items as did some of the other motherboards we’ve reviewed as of late, this helps to further clean things up a bit. Starting off near the three PCI slots, we see that there are solder points and silk screening on the PCB surface outlining an additional two Serial ATA connections, as well as a Serial ATA RAID controller. This controller is provided by Silicon Image, though it has not been added on to our review motherboard. If this option was included, it would bring the total Serial ATA device support up to six.

The main components of interest on the 915A03-P-8EKRS are all located around the Southbridge chip itself, as we have repeatedly seen with these i925/i915 motherboards. If we take a look towards the lower right corner of the IOCH6-R, we find the System BIOS, as well as the Clear CMOS header. Above these items we find all four of the native Serial ATA ports supported by the ICH6-R, as well as the system battery, all of which have been lined up in a neat row. On the left side of the ICH6-R, we find both of the blue USB2.0 headers that can be utilized with the included rear expansion bracket.

One unique fact about the 915A03-P-8EKRS in comparison to the other motherboards we’ve reviewed so far with an ICH6-x Southbridge chip is that Foxconn has not chosen to include any form of passive cooling. On each and every board we’ve seen to date based off of the i925/i915 series of chipsets, the Southbridge has been fitted with a passive cooler, which in most cases did manage to remove a lot of heat from the Southbridge. Throughout our testing, we found that the Southbridge chip would indeed become quite warm, and we feel that it would be beneficial to add on at least some form of passive cooling.

As we move up towards the DIMM portion of the motherboard, we find the typical connections for Floppy and DIE devices, as well as an additional four-pin fan power connector. This connection could be utilized with a front case fan to allow for cool air intake. One thing we noticed was that there was no header for a rear exhaust fan, something of note that we would have liked to have seen added. The DIMM slots themselves are blue and yellow, a beautiful mix of colors if I do say so myself. There is one problem with the DIMM slots though, that being the fact that you cannot add or remove RAM should you have a larger PCI-E graphics adapter in place.

Along the right side of the DIMM slots, we find the new 24-pin ATX connection. These PSU’s are still quite difficult / expensive to come by at this point, but the 915A03-P-8EKRS is backwards compatible with the PSU you’re using today so you’ll have no problems with the switch. This is the case for all motherboards based off of these new chipsets. All that need to be done is mount the 12V ATX connector so four pins are left unconnected. We’ve seen some manufacturers like Gigabyte cover up these four pins with a sticker, though most manufacturers simply have left instruction in the manual and otherwise ignored the switch.

Overall, the Foxconn 915A03-P-8EKRS features a pretty solid design, though there were a few things we felt were missing, and one major problem that is pretty routine on many motherboards. First off, Foxconn only provided two four-pin fan power connections. There should be at least three of these connections available, especially for a rear exhaust fan given the heat situation with the current line of Pentium 4’s. Another problem that came about was the fact that the DIMM slot clips overlap the area of the board that would be used should the end user purchase a higher-end graphics adapter. This was a common problem on older motherboards, and obviously it still exists. This is a hard problem to avoid though in the case of the 915A03-P-8EKRS as it features seven slots, typically the amount of slots where the DIMM overlap becomes problematic. Other than these points, Foxconn has done a solid job with the design and looks of the 915A03-P-8EKRS.