Foxconn has been around for several decades and is one of the largest manufacturers of electronics components in the world. They have provided motherboards for many OEMs in the past, but it has only been more recently that they began to offer their boards on the retail market. Given their OEM provider roots, it's not too surprising that the initial Foxconn motherboards failed to cater to the enthusiast community. Over time, Foxconn worked to correct this perception, and they have released several motherboards using their "WinFast" branding that attempted to cater to this market. Unfortunately, as we stated in a previous review, merely saying a product has "extreme performance" does not make it so. However, they made amends to the performance oriented crowd with their excellent C51XEM2AA motherboard based on the NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI chipset during the AMD AM2 launch last May.

Foxconn has introduced their CORE series of motherboards that will appeal to the budget minded user who still expects a very good feature set, excellent quality, and solid performance for their money. We are taking a look at one of the first motherboards in this new series that is based on the Intel P965 chipset. The board goes by the nomenclature Foxconn P9657AA-8KS2H. We continually see Foxconn having some of the longest product names around and would just assume they shorten the names and liven up the descriptions. Of course you can call a board just about anything but what matters in the end is its performance, stability, feature set, warranty, quality, and how well it is supported by the manufacturer. Let's take a look at the board's feature set and see just how well this budget oriented motherboard lives up to our other expectations.

Feature Set

FOXCONN P9657AA-8KS2H
Market Segment: Budget Performance - $99.99~$109.99
CPU Interface: Socket T (Socket 775)
CPU Support: LGA775-based Pentium 4, Celeron D, Pentium D, Pentium EE, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Extreme
Chipset: Intel P965 + ICH8
Bus Speeds: 266 to 600 in 1MHz Increments
Memory Speeds: Auto, 533, 667, 800
PCIe Speeds: Fixed
PCI: Fixed
Core Voltage: Default, +0.0125V to +0.3000V in .0125V increments
CPU Clock Multiplier: Auto, 6x-11x in 1X increments if CPU is unlocked, Core 2 Duo
DRAM Voltage: Default, -.150, -.100, -.050V and +.050V to +.600V in .050V increments
DRAM Timing Control: SPD, 4 DRAM Timing Options
NB Voltage: Default, -.120V, -.080V, -.040V and +.040V to +.240V in +.040V increments
Memory Slots: Four 240-pin DDR2 DIMM Slots
Dual-Channel Configuration
Regular Unbuffered Memory to 8GB Total
Expansion Slots: 1 - PCIe x16
1 - PCIe x4
1 - PCIe x1
3 - PCI Slot 2.3
Onboard SATA/RAID: 4 SATA 3Gbps Ports - Intel ICH8
1 e-SATA 3Gbps Port - JMicron JMB361
Onboard IDE: 1 ATA133/100/66 Port (2 drives) - JMicron JMB361
Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394: 10 USB 2.0 Ports - 4 I/O Panel - 6 via Headers
No Firewire Support
Onboard LAN: Marvell 88E8056 - PCI Express Gigabit Controller
Onboard Audio: Realtek ALC883 8-Channel HD Audio Codec
Power Connectors: ATX 24-pin, 8-pin EATX 12V, 4-pin Molex
I/O Panel: 1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x PS/2 Mouse
1 x Serial Port
1 x S/PDIF Optical
1 x Parallel Port
1 x e-SATA Port
1 x Audio Panel
1 x RJ45
4 x USB 2.0/1.1
BIOS Revision: Award P32

Foxconn has equipped this motherboard with several nice features and it is currently selling in the $100 range. The board features the Realtek ALC883 HD audio codec, Marvell 88E8056 Gigabit Ethernet controller, an e-SATA port via the JMicron JMB361 chipset, but it unfortunately does not include Firewire support. The BIOS gives you the indication that the board should be overclocking friendly with several nice option ranges on the voltage and clock settings. However, as we will see in our overclocking test, the results do not match the BIOS capability. This is not necessarily a problem as we are talking about a $100 board with a very good feature set and solid performance results.

Board Layout and Features
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  • atlr - Friday, April 06, 2007 - link

    A P9657AA-8EKRS2H / P9657AA-8KS2H BIOS dated April 5, 2007 has been released.
    No description about what's different though.
    http://www.foxconnchannel.com/EN-US/service/downlo...">http://www.foxconnchannel.com/EN-US/ser...9657AA-8...
    Reply
  • Sh0ckwave - Sunday, December 31, 2006 - link

    343fsb is crap. no one will buy this for overclocking. Reply
  • ssiu - Thursday, January 11, 2007 - link

    Seems like this could be a good option for ultra-budget E4300 overclocking. 9x343FSB = 3.087Ghz is pretty good. Save $30 on motherboard, use stock heatsink and save $$, save some more with cheaper DDR2-667 memory, etc. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, December 28, 2006 - link

    Wouldnt it be nice is manufactures started making mother boards with loads of features, but without all the unnecessary stuff like SLI, dual GbE etc ?

    Personally, Id like to see a board like the Asus Striker, or ABIT IN9 32x-MAX, that didn't have SLI, and dual GbE. SO in other words, Something along the lines of these types of boards, but with the latest chip sets, eSATA (maybe), loads of disk ports, etc.
    Reply
  • BladeVenom - Thursday, December 28, 2006 - link

    I'd like to see at least one company make a motherboard with no legacy ports, and no built in audio. Who needs it, and why pay for it if you don't. Reply
  • Beachspree - Friday, December 29, 2006 - link

    I'll keep repeating this with each review in the hope of getting a reply. ;-)

    I was wondering why the Firewire performance is so poor in these reviews:

    Firewire 400 gets a best throughput of 230.6Mb/s

    It is known that Macs have poor USB 2 performance but look at the Firewire results by Barefeats:

    http://www.barefeats.com/usb2.html">http://www.barefeats.com/usb2.html
    http://www.barefeats.com/hard70.html">http://www.barefeats.com/hard70.html

    Without the perfect conditions of a RAM disk, and without cacheing turned off, they get real world performance of up to:

    Firewire 400: 304 Mb/s (31% faster than PC)
    Firewire 800: 464 Mb/s (41% faster than PC)

    For comparison, Macs are getting lousy USB 2 performance. Intel Macs have improved it but that takes it from around 136Mb/s to 168Mb/s. That's 75% slower.

    Given the importance of Firewire in multimedia applications, for which it can be critical, does this poor performance not warrant a mention?

    To be clearer:

    Can we please have some real world figures for USB 2.0, eSATA and Firewire 400/800 transfers under default settings and off an internal 7200 HDD you standardize on. That's what most people actually do when the backup, so that's what we need to see in order to make informed choices. I suspect these data rates you keep publishing are ones we will actually never see.

    I suggest, also, that poor Firewire performance in Windows is more important than poor USB on Macs. They always have Firewire built in and tend to it on peripherals, while Windows users often make do with USB until they get into music or video editing when they then find the need for Firewire and hit this poor performance just when they start needing mission critical performance. I'm talking about dropped frames and music latency.

    Why is that ignored in all your motherboard reviews?

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • SonicIce - Thursday, December 28, 2006 - link

    What speakers or headphones do you use to test audio? Reply
  • Orbs - Thursday, December 28, 2006 - link

    I have this board in a machine I'm using as a personal server. I paired it with G.Skill F2-6400CL5D-2GBNQ (2 x 1GB of DDR2 800) and it would crash randomly with that ram. After talking to G.Skill, it seems like there is an issue with that ram and all reference-based P965 boards including this board.

    Memtest86 also failed test #5 consistently with this ram on this board.

    G.Skill is sending me replacement ram (their F2-6400PHU2-2GBNR) which should be here next week. Hopefully it's more stable.
    Reply
  • Orbs - Thursday, December 28, 2006 - link

    Just to be clear, I'm not saying this board or Foxconn is at fault for the compatibility issues, I'm just noting my experience so others don't run into the same problem. Reply

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