We recently took a first look at the Foxconn MARS motherboard and discovered that Foxconn is finally headed down the right path when it comes to product offerings in the enthusiast sector. Our initial testing of the MARS board revealed a product that is capable of competing with other mid-range enthusiast boards but does not stand out from the crowd. However, the MARS board does provide a very competitive feature set which includes a BIOS design that caters to the overclocking crowd. This is a vast departure for a company that is heavily involved in the OEM sector.



Foxconn has been busy over the past couple of weeks and is now ready to launch their new Quantum Force product line that will focus on providing very good price to performance products for the enthusiast. With the initial launch of the Intel P35-based Foxconn MARS motherboard also comes the first official retail BIOS release for the board. Foxconn provided the P06 release to us a few days ago and after testing it, we decided to provide a quick update to our original article that utilized the P03 BIOS.

We are glad to report that the P06 BIOS did not break, damage, or harm any objects or personnel in the labs this last week. To cut to the chase, the P06 BIOS did provide some very minor performance improvements, reduce voltage requirements when overclocking, and generally remained extremely stable throughout testing. Foxconn has been extremely diligent in addressing problems and providing solutions quickly during our testing. This bodes well for future customer support in our opinion although the proof is in the pudding as we will find out shortly as the boards are shipping now.

Not all is perfect with the BIOS release as we still cannot get 2x2GB or 4x2GB configurations to work correctly and there are a few tuning improvements that we would like to see addressed quickly. These improvements include improved 4:5 memory ratio performance when overclocking, ability to manually set the memory straps, drop the quick shutdown and reboot procedure after completing minor FSB or memory settings, and further balancing of memory/chipset timings during overclocking (they tend to be very tight or very loose). With that said, we are going to take a quick look at the board's performance with the P06 BIOS now.

Test Setup

Foxconn MARS P35 Testbed
Processor Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
Quad 2.4GHz, 2x4MB Unified Cache, 9x Multiplier, 1066FSB
CPU Voltage 1.200V Stock
Cooling Thermalright 120 eXtreme
Power Supply OCZ 1000W
Memory Corsair Twin2x2048-10000C5DF
Memory Settings 4-4-4-12 (DDR2-1066)
Video Cards MSI HD X2900 XT 512MB
Video Drivers ATI Catalyst 7.9
Hard Drive Western Digital 7200RPM 750GB SATA 3/Gbps 16MB Buffer
Optical Drives Plextor PX-B900A, Toshiba SD-H802A
Case Cooler Master Stacker 830 Evo
BIOS P.03
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
.

Our test setup did not change except for the BIOS update and all settings were maintained the same, as much as possible, over the platforms tested. Our game tests are run at settings of 1280x1024 HQ to ensure our MSI HD 2900XT is not the bottleneck during testing. All results are reported in our charts and color-coded for easier identification of results. So, let's take a quick look at the results.

Memory Performance
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  • BigDDesign - Monday, October 08, 2007 - link

    I really like the follow up articles that you are doing with the latest motherboard reviews. What the Foxconn has over most of the other P35 motherboards is a perfect layout. 3 PCI slots are still needed for some of us. And not one of them being blocked by an 8800GTX. TV Tuner Cards, Sound Cards, Raid Cards etc still need PCI. The Abit IP35-Pro looks good too, but one of the other tech sites found the firewire only got 17mb/sec transfer rate http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2007/07/12/abit_i...">http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2007/07/12/abit_i.... I do a lot of video work and this is unacceptable. Capturing video at this tranfer rate would be problematic. Foxconn has my vote for offering the best layout for any new motherboard for anyone that only needs one graphics card and likes to have the media center experience with high-end sound. I can only hope that the new 45nm quad cores this spring overclock as well as the Q6600 does in your article. Then I will buy one of these Foxconn boards and finally get rid of my Northwood system. Looking foward to playing some of the new games out there at high resolutions instead of a slide show. Reply
  • mostlyprudent - Friday, October 05, 2007 - link

    In the context of a roundup? Please, when will the P35 roundup appear? Reply
  • smut - Saturday, October 06, 2007 - link

    I am wondering the same thing as well! I am currently picking parts for a new build and the mobo and case has been the two parts I cannot decide on for the life of me. Anyone have any recommendations? Will be OCing a 6750 C2D cpu with 2x1GB of Ballistix DDR2800. I want a big roomy case, I like the CM stacker 832. Reply

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