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 - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    You are correct: there was a bit of confusion between Gary and myself (he was hoping to validate benchmarks). Somewhere along the way I thought that he actually managed to get the Foxconn board running at 332, but in reviewing my e-mail he maxed out at 314 or something. He has a pre-release Board where as I have the retail shipping Foxconn motherboard, so my results were supposed be used. I have corrected this information now. :-) Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    hoping = helping. Sorry. Reply
  • glennpratt - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    If you got your specs right, then the Foxconn (ALC882D) has Dolby Digital Live.... HUGE DIFFERENCE.

    ALC882D features Dolby® Digital Live output for consumer equipment">
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    Yes, they are accurate. Dolby Digital Live support does make the 882D technically superior, but I'm not sure either one is really all that different in actual practice. I used both motherboards, and at least with games I really would be hard-pressed to tell which was which. Reply
  • glennpratt - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    Well, DDL support means that you can go direct into your reciever with AC3 digital sound over SPDIF/TOSLINK, so A) you don't have to use crappy onboard DACs and B) you don't need a big mess of wires to get six channel out. AKA, what we all loved about SoundStorm and nForce 1/2.

    IMO, if DDL functions properly and that's what you wan't to use, then you have no reason to spend $80-$130 they are charging for DDL soundcards these days.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, June 22, 2006 - link

    I have updated the text slightly now. Reply

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