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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  • archcommus - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    As the article conclusion mentions, I have a Epox 9NPA+ right now. Should I stick with this board and socket and just pick up a cheap X2 sometime soon instead of switching to this new platform? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    Probably. In a month prices should be at much more reasonable levels, and while DDR2-800 with all other parts being more or less equal will be 5-10% faster, unless you're after maximum performance you're better off just upgrading your current CPU to dual core. Reply
  • archcommus - Friday, June 23, 2006 - link

    Thanks. The only crappy part about that is having to invest in another gig of DDR memory instead of putting my money towards DDR2, but I guess if it'd last me all of next year, it's not a big deal. Reply
  • Myrandex - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    I was surprised from reading the specs list that the Foxconn has ieee1394b and the giga-byte doesn't. Traditionally Gigabyte has been the only manufacturer to consistently include this ont heir boards and it was a factor with me in the past wanting Gigabyte motherboards. Those clamp SATA connectors are nice though as the traditional ones are somewhat flimsy.
  • R3MF - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    that is an absolute winner, and Gigabyte deserve praise for it.

    i am still waiting for a mATX 570SLI motherboard which has the same third 16x (8x) expansion slot.

    preferably a fourth 1x slot as well, but i appreciate the crusties may want at least one legacy PCI slot.
  • glennpratt - Friday, June 23, 2006 - link

    While I appreciate the thought, there is nothing but video cards and a handful of middle of the road devices that work with PCIe. Kinda sucks. Reply
  • MacGuffin - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    But something strikes me odd: Compare Page 4 of this review with Page 4 of the Biostar/MSI roundup. The HTT Overclocking Charts from the Biostar and the Foxconn are IDENTICAL (except the Memory Settings row: 9x332HTT=DDR2 665/9x332HTT=DDR 664)! Maximum CPU & Maximum FSB are the exact same!

    Max CPU Overclock: 258HTTx12 (3100 MHz) +29%
    Max FSB Overclock: 332HTTx9 (2989 MHz) +66%
  • MacGuffin - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    Also on Page 9, right after the Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory chart,
    "All three of the nForce4 590 SLI"
    Should be nForce 590 SLI.:-)
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    That one I can entirely blame on Dragon NaturallySpeaking... though of course I have to blame my eyes for not catching the extra number as well. Reply
  • MacGuffin - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link problemo. Finish up reviews on MSI K9N Diamond, and ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe within 2 weeks and I won't ask for my money back ;-) Reply

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