Introduction

With the launch of AMD's socket AM2, many people want to know which AM2 motherboard is best. We've already provided extensive coverage of the new nForce 500 chipsets and ATI's RD580 chipset, and we reviewed two NVIDIA based motherboards in part one of our nForce 500 motherboard roundup. This article is part two of the roundup, taking a closer look at two more motherboards: the Foxconn C51XEM2AA and the Gigabyte GA-M59SLI-S5.

The Foxconn motherboard is the same board that was sent out with the NVIDIA review kits for the nForce5/AM2 product launch. It uses NVIDIA's top nForce 590 SLI chipset, although testing is now being done with the latest P20 BIOS revision. The Gigabyte board also uses the same nForce 590 SLI chipset, so these are both premium motherboards. Gigabyte also has several other AM2 motherboards planned, including an nForce 570 SLI board. The Foxconn board is already available online, with prices in the $210 range. The Gigabyte board should be available within the next few weeks, and will also target the $200+ market.

Part of the difficulty with the AM2 launch is that performance hasn't significantly changed from what we saw with socket 939. If you already have a decent socket 939 system, there's very little reason to go out and upgrade right this minute. In fact, we really wouldn't recommend anyone go out and purchase a new AM2 or 939 processor unless you're in a big hurry, as AMD should be significantly cutting prices next month. Once that happens, though, anyone that has been holding off upgrading to a dual core processor might finally feel compelled to take the plunge. Of course, we're also waiting to see exactly what happens with retail pricing and availability of the Intel Core 2 Duo processors and motherboards, which could be one more reason to wait. Come next month, things should become a lot clearer, and if you end up wanting an AM2 motherboard we should have quite a few options reviewed.

So let's see what Foxconn and Gigabyte have to offer the AMD enthusiasts. Much of what we've already said in our coverage of the nForce 500 chipsets and part one of our roundup still applies, so we are primarily interested in looking at the feature sets and making sure that performance is acceptable. We will provide general comments to this effect, and we will pay particular attention to any areas where these boards exceed or fall short of the competition.

Motherboard Features
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  • JarredWalton - Friday, June 23, 2006 - link

    Must be - I have a Canan Rebel EOS now, and I haven't come to grips with the manual yet. LOL Reply
  • sprockkets - Friday, June 23, 2006 - link

    Rubycons I believe are Taiwaneese caps, but they had the proper formula for the electrolyte in them so they never "blew up", whereas others tried to copy the formula and got it wrong and did "blow up." I still have boards with them from the 2000-2002 time frame still working whereas the other boards with other caps are leaking all over and the boards failed.

    That is no longer an issue, but still, they are good.

    About those new connectors, anyone use a normal cable on them? I did on one, the MSI GF6150 board, and litterally had to crush the connector cable to get it out because it was not one of the new style ones. Anyone else have this happen to them?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, June 23, 2006 - link

    I haven't had a problem with any cables in the new style connector, but here's a shot of the GB cables:

    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/motherboards/r...">Gigabyte (Pre-Release) Accessories

    Basically, there's a small metal latch that you depress to allow the cable to disconnect. I've seen SATA connections that were so loose they could literally fall off with a slight bump, so the latch avoids that. If you have a cable with a really fat connector, it could cause problems, but all of the other SATA connectors I've seen are about the same, minus the metal latch.
    Reply
  • Phiro - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    On the first page matrix, you list the Gigabyte as having the Realtek 883, then from about then on, you switch to the 888. Which one is it? Reply
  • Gary Key - Friday, June 23, 2006 - link

    The board has the ALC-888 but Gigabyte had planned on the ALC-883 in the beginning, unfortunately the first set of drivers we used incorrectly reported the chipset but after looking at the chip itself (magnifying glass) and running the latest drivers confirmed our sample had the ALC-888. Sorry we missed the update on the first chart. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    It's ALC888, though that's about the same as 883. 888T would be the interesting option, as that adds some support for Skype and VoIP. Reply
  • photoguy99 - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    Why would anyone invest in AM2 now when we can see the price/performance shakeout of Conroe in 1 month?

    Maybe AM2 will come out as a good choice - If a 4800+ drops to $199 I can see getting on board.

    If anyone out there is jumping now for an AM2 I would honestly be interested in the logic behind it.

    Reply
  • glennpratt - Friday, June 23, 2006 - link

    I just bought an AM2 3500 for $100. I doubt Conroe will be at that price point anytime soon and my budget isn't flexible, plus you can't get a geforce 6150 for intel (HTPC). So for $300 I have an excellent upgrade to my media center IMO. New Case, A64 3500, 1GB DDR2, gerforce 6150.

    I would see your point if I was shooting for the latest and greatest, but personally I never spend more then ~$100 for a component in my PC's (usually < $80). And in my experience things don't change too quickly in that price range. Regardless of hype.
    Reply
  • photoguy99 - Friday, June 23, 2006 - link

    That makes sense Glen, good luck with your new system. Reply
  • Mant - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    This is off topic...does anyone know where can I buy one of those cool new copper heatpipe coolers that are on these boards to replace the Turbo-charged-extreme-jet-turbine fan on my 939 motherboard? I'm dying to retire that POS and this would be just the thing to replace it! Reply

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