Foxconn, or Hon Hai, may be a massive company when it comes to electronics production in Taiwan, but it has never really made it with enthusiasts. Plagued by incomprehensible product names and quite frankly uninventive looking motherboards - the N68S7AA being a perfect example of which, it has finally had a much needed kick up the backside.
Foxconn tempted some DFI engineers to join the manufacturing giant, and went for a whole new look and marketing concept with its latest model. The succulent fruits of such a laborious foot wangling are finally upon us with the first of the Quantum Force range - the Mars, whose name I love.
The Intel P35 based motherboard features an all new "Gladiator" BIOS we've briefly covered, here at bit-tech and we've seen several revisions come and go in the past few weeks in the run up to the retail launch. Foxconn is keen to highlight that this is an overclocking board, and has weighted a lot of effort into getting the BIOS and its technology just right.
But since X38 has come and gone, is Foxconn giving us what we want too late? Or is the woven engineering magic enough to make us want it more than anything? Read on to find out.
Foxconn MARS Features
Support for LGA775 Intel Core 2 Quad and Core 2 Duo, including 1,333/1,066/800MHz FSB and 45nm processors;
Intel P35 Northbridge;
Intel ICH9R Southbridge;
Supports up to 8GB of dual channel DDR2 800 (and 1,066MHz) memory using four 240-pin, 1.8V DDR2 DIMMs;
Two PCI Express x16 slots (x16 and x4 electrical);
Two PCI Express x1 slot;
Three 32-bit v2.3 Master PCI bus slots (support 3.3v/5v PCI bus interface);
One IDE port;
Six SATA 3Gbps ports supporting RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 or JBOD;
Realtek ALC888 High-Definition audio codec supporting 7.1 channel surround sound up to 32-bit/192KHz with optical S/PDIF in and out;
One PCI-Express Gigabit Ethernet controllers provided by the Realtek RTL8111B chipset;
JMB361 controller supplying one PATA port and one 3Gbps eSATA device;
I love the look of the box; the colour and design are certainly striking when sitting on a shelf - Foxconn has hit the nail on the head here, although it does appear that one of the warriors looks a little... excited.
Six SATA cables - two of which have 90 degree connectors on one end
Six Molex to SATA power adapters
IDE and floppy cables
Quick Install Guide, Manual, Driver CD and floppy disk
PCI bracket with two USB and one 4-pin Firewire
Metal rear I/O plate
Optional northbridge fan
Four Quantum Force transfers, one sticker and some dog tags
I can't honestly ever remember a time I've ever thought the need for some water-on transfers or dog tags. If I die horribly in an overclocking accident does that mean my body is shipped to Foxconn? Do I get engraved into a wall in the lobby as number 00764? Jeez come on guys! If you feel the need to throw in some swag, at least give me a pen or something; at least I can write with a pen.
Other than that though, the six SATA cables and power adapters cover the supplied ports entirely, and there are even a couple of 90 degree ones thrown in for variety, which is fantastic. The included fan thankfully is this time optional - included only if you're hammering the northbridge in some insane overclocking frenzy.
Foxconn even includes a driver floppy disk which we haven't seen in a while, however there is only a single PCI bracket with an extra two USB ports given that there are six more available on board, even though there is a 4-pin Firewire port for again, some variety. The manual is a simple black and white affair, but it is detailed in terms of layout and basic BIOS features, however it doesn't go to the extent of recommending overclocking or performance settings or explaining in detail what the options do.