Late last year Foxconn announced their presence in the performance sector with the P35-based Mars motherboard. Like most boards using the P35 chipset, the Mars matured into an outstanding product. In fact, it turned out to be frighteningly close in capabilities to our favorite DFI P35 UT product. On the back of this excellent release, Foxconn has been inspired with the confidence to develop a performance range of motherboards with specific objectives in mind. Given the size of the company and its in-house manufacturing capabilities, the progression into releasing a line of performance-oriented motherboards seems to be perfectly logical.

With over 200,000 employees worldwide, a proven distribution network, and an already established reputation in multiple product lines, one would be lead to believe that competitive volumes of high-end brand motherboard sales will be another notch of success for Foxconn. The mere presence of Foxconn in the performance computer sector at the very least should drive the other big players towards higher levels of innovation - and who knows, perhaps pricing will benefit too. Contrary to that last statement on the subject of pricing, the Black Ops motherboard we're reviewing here today will help relieve you of that irritating bulge in your wallet by setting you back a mere $350 or so.

Okay, so the Black Ops itself is not going to be the cure for ever-increasing high-end hardware costs; let's hope upcoming or future products will fulfill that role. We look at the Black Ops as more of a statement product from Foxconn that announces their presence on the scene, aspiring to win the support of some of the world's top benchmarkers. A few endorsements by well-known and respected individuals can go a long way and can carry enough weight to convince the more discerning among us that something is at least worth checking out.

The pursuit of recognition has lead to Foxconn employing none other than Peter Tan (aka Shamino), who will provide insight into releasing a board built from the ground up with one main purpose in mind: withstand the onslaught of extreme cooling to benchmark and set world records. To the more uninitiated among us, think of this form of usage as drag racing with a processor, memory, and graphics card either for competition or just simply for the thrill. It would be fair to say we can expect a motherboard with toenail curling voltage ranges, multiple cooling options, and rugged power delivery circuits. Let's not forget the customary masses of chipset tuning options via BIOS options that are all deemed essential for extreme benchmarking.


Thus far, we consider the launch of the Black Ops a successful one. The board has broken or holds a number of Futuremark world records and has seemingly gained enough allure to find itself in demand from regular users. It hasn't all been plain sailing though, with all the initial focus falling on out of the box speed rather than "safety", early BIOS releases were set up very tight, and compatibility with certain types of memory modules at launch needed improvement. This left some of the regular users, including us, a little disgruntled. Things have improved with each BIOS release for the 24/7 crowd, although the steep learning curve to mastering the BIOS remains daunting. It takes patience to tune the board, with new users often requiring advice from experienced users to get the most from the board.

On the subject of helping users, Foxconn already seems to have realized that a strong and accessible support staff presence is crucial to ensuring the success of an enthusiast product, as initial launch compatibility issues are often rife on all performance-oriented motherboards. For those of us that are struggling with various configurations, Foxconn employees are available to help users get started and push for BIOS fixes at Foxconn's support forum. Turnaround for such fixes has been lightning fast in most cases, and the board is generally far more compatible overall than it was a few months ago.

It seems there are plenty of positives making up the perimeter of Foxconn's package for the consumer. What we have learned following our quick look at the Black Ops is that teamed with the right components and some perseverance the board is an absolute beast. Before we even continue into this review, let us reiterate that this is an ultra niche product; it's not designed to be particularly mainstream or to offer the best everyday functionality and peripheral compatibility as other boards. This is not to say the board is not compatible or stable - far from it. Let's just say that picking up the groceries and a load of lumber is best left for the SUV and not the Ferrari.

On the plus side, Foxconn will concentrate on overall compatibility qualities on upcoming boards aimed at the mainstream enthusiast market. For now, if you intend to buy the Black Ops and run it in an overclocked everyday configuration, we offer the following advice. Do your homework first, ask questions of support staff and users to find out which components have synergy, and then make your purchasing decisions. Making informed choices will save disappointment later on. Don't let what we say here put you off if you're a die-hard overclocking fan, admire quality, or enjoy tinkering with settings till the cows come home. [Ed: Mooooo!]

With the disclaimers out of the way, we're going to run a few of our standard test suites followed by some benchmarking under cascade cooling to see how the board holds up to the abuse it's built to take.

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  • DigitalFreak - Thursday, July 31, 2008 - link

    "extreme benchmarking"

    ROFLMAO! What a bunch of losers
    Reply
  • ImmortalZ - Thursday, July 31, 2008 - link

    You do realize these people are given QX9770s, GTX280s and assorted hardware for free, every generation?

    Do you know most of these people end up working for the very manufacturer's products they torture test?

    Do you know that you're a moron?
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, July 31, 2008 - link

    Personally, I'd rather grow a mullet, buy a Mustang, and head for the local drag strip. Reply
  • Berger - Thursday, July 31, 2008 - link

    'Digital Freak' what a freaking handle.

    No need to be discriminative you narrow minded moron.

    Reply
  • Nyarlathotep - Thursday, July 31, 2008 - link

    I used to really like linux but the more posts I´ve read by linux users, the more I hate it. Linux nerds probably get paid by Microsoft for ruining linux chances. They are everywhere whining and crying. For every decent linux user there seem to be 5 obnoxious nerds.

    Yesterday I uninstalled Ubuntu from my laptop because it made me feel like if I supported obnoxious linux nerds. If it wasn´t for them linux would probably be the most popular OS right now, not windows.
    Reply
  • TA152H - Thursday, July 31, 2008 - link

    One thing I have been saying for 25 years, and has been validated by the years is that Unix will never be a popular operating system. Linux often mentioned by people that don't really use it that much, they want to whine about Microsoft and such, or at a higher level, whine about the establishment in general. Don't get me wrong, I despise Microsoft too, but I'm not so pathetic as to act like Unix is the answer. It's a horrible operating system that's a pain in the backside to work with. They can sugar coat that dung all they want, but it will always smell and will only be a niche product. GUIs help some by insulated the user from the miserable underpinnings, but, really, anyone that likes the word "grep", and thinks upper and lower case parameters should have different meanings, is generally going to be a maladjusted dickhead.

    I still think OS/2 was better than Windows, but it's very much a niche product now (in its new incarnation as Ecomstation) and is used about as often as rotary telephones. I whined for a while about Windows too, but mainly because all my work experience had been with OS/2, and I didn't want to be jobless :-P.

    No one really listens to the whining dorks that cry to the sky about foul play. Linux isn't popular because, basically, it sucks like all Unix varieties do. They'll exist in niches, but you can't expect the mainstream market to embrace it. Apple did a good job of hiding the difficulty of the underlying operating system, but it's still a niche product as well. Even if there were a good operating system it would be extremely difficult to break the software monopoly of Microsoft, so saying a Unix variety would be the dominant operating system were it not for some oft-ignored dweebs, is as silly as the whiners are.

    We've already gone from MVS, to DOS, to Windows NT as the dominating operating systems during the lifetime of Unix. It's always been a niche product. Outside of the Microsoft haters, do many people really want it to be anything more than that? It's a pity IBM still won't make OS/2 open source. It would at least have a chance as an open source competitor. Unix? Never. But, as has been the case for 30 years, you'll still hear them saying it's just about to take off. It never changes, and kind of gives one a sense of security in a world that changes too fast. Unix will take over soon! Just wait! It's even money if it will happen before the Sun eats the Earth.
    Reply
  • swaaye - Friday, August 01, 2008 - link

    :) Reply
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, July 31, 2008 - link

    Look. You should be using your OS of choice for YOU, not anyone else.

    The whole idea is HAVING the ability to make that choice.

    I use Windows on my main machines here at home, but I like the option of being able to use which over OS I please on them, and yes, I have a couple of Linux boxen too, as well as an openSolaris machine. Hell, I would not be adverse to putting OSX on my own hardware, IF Steve Jobs and Apple will ever pull its head out of their backsides . . . In a general purpose computer world, proprietary systems are the 'bad guys' not the OS.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, July 31, 2008 - link

    http://ubuntu-virginia.ubuntuforums.org/showthread...

    Companies need to learn that business tactics as such will put you into a world of hurt in a hurry. Behold the wonderful internet at its finest.
    Reply
  • swaaye - Friday, August 01, 2008 - link

    Just how much of an audience in the real world do you think slashdot gets? lol. Reply

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