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Foxconn G9657MA-8KS2H G965 Express Motherboard Review

Foxconn G9657MA-8KS2H G965 Express Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: The 965 Express series chipsets gives Intel something that it has been lacking for a couple of years; a versatile chipset that offers excellent performance for a low price.
 82% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Foxconn Jan 29 2007   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Foxconn G9657MA-8KS2H

Intel G965 Express Chipset Overview

The Intel G965 Express chipset is Intel's mainstream performance core logic with integrated graphics. It supports all Socket 775 processors running on a 533/800/1066MHz Front Side Bus. The G965 Express is married to the ICH8-series Southbridge which replaces the ICH7. The southbridge used with the Foxconn G9657MA-8KS2H is the ICH8R model which has several RAID features.

Intel has increased its DDR2 memory support to 800 MHz with the G965 Express chipset, putting Intel's latest and greatest at par with AMD's Socket AM2 Athlon64's. Intel calls the new memory controller FMA or 'Fast Memory Access' and gives the system a maximum theoretical bandwidth of 12.8GB/s. Below is breakdown on the full feature set of the Intel 975 / 965 Express series chipsets, including the G965 Express which is used on the Foxconn G9657MA-8KS2H motherboard.

Intel 975 / 965 / 955 Series Chipset Feature Breakdown
Intel 975X Express Intel P965 Express Intel Q965 Express Intel G965 Express Intel Q963 Express Intel 955X Express
CPU LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Pentium D
Front Side Bus (FSB) 1066/800 MHz 1066/800/533 MHz 1066/800/533 MHz
2 threads
1066/800/533 MHz 1066/800/533 MHz 1066/800MHz
Intel Flex Memory Technology Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Dual Channel Memory Support DDR2 800/667/533 DDR2 800/667/533 DDR2 667/533 DDR2 667 DDR2 667 DDR2 667/533
Maximum Memory Capacity 8GB 8GB 8GB 8GB 8GB 8GB
Integrated Graphics - - GMA X3000 GMA X3000 GMA X3000 -
PCI Express x16 2 1 1 1 1 1
PCI Express x1 4 4 4 4 4 4
Intel Matrix Storage Technology Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
SATA/IDE HDD 4/1 6/0 6/0 6/0 6/0 4/1
SATA Speed 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s
RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH7R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH8R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH8R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH8R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH8R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH7R)
Hard Drive NCQ - Yes Yes Yes Yes -
USB 2.0 Ports 8 8 10 10 10 8
PCI Masters 6 6 6 6 6 6
Audio High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia)

The Intel G965 Express chipset supports a new onboard videocard dubbed GMA X3000. We'll get into the features of the new videocard shortly, but first a bit more on the Intel G965 Express. There's a PCI Express x16 support for a standalone videocard if you find the onboard video lacking. Given that the ICH8R southbridge has six PCI Express lanes, these have been utilized to support the second PCI Express x16 slot with 4 PCI Express lanes. It's not as ideal as both videocards received the full 16 PCI Express lanes each, but it works well enough with conventional videocards.

A dedicated 2GB/s I/O bus connects the Intel G965 Express Northbridge and ICH8R Southbridge together, which might be a little tight if you have many high bandwidth devices installed but should be just fine for the average user.

The Foxconn G9657MA-8KS2H motherboard comes installed with the ICH8R Southbridge which includes a ton of goodies. There are six 3GB/s Serial ATA II channels (which support RAID modes 0, 1, 5 and 10) as well a 7.1 channel Intel Azalia high definition audio, 10 USB 2.0 ports in total (split between headers and the I/O slot), six PCI Express x1 lanes, and an integrated Intel Gigabit MAC that runs through the PCI Express bus.

Noticeably lacking from the chipset itself is parallel IDE support. This is forcing many motherboard manufacturers to integrate a standalone IDE controller onto their motherboards (as has been done here) so consumers have something to plug their optical drives into.

The Intel GMA X3000 Videocard

The Intel G965 Express chipset supports an onboard videocard, the Graphics Media Accelerator X3000. The graphics card on paper anyway is as impressive as any other integrated solution out there. The GMA X3000 supports graphics standards DirectX 9.0C (which includes Shader Model 3.0) as well as OpenGL 1.5. This means the videocard is Windows Vista compatible and will be able to run Microsoft's new Aeroglass feature.

The Intel GMA X3000 graphics core runs at 667 MHz and can use up to 384MB of system memory. With the Intel G965 Express chipset running DDR2-800 memory, the GMA X3000 does have potentially 12.8GB/s worth of bandwidth available. Of course this has to be shared with the other system devices too.

The Intel GMA X3000 supports HDMI output although it's up to the manufacturer to include this on the motherboard, Foxconn didn't with the G9657MA-8KS2H . If you want to turn a machine using the Intel GMA X3000 into a HTPC, the videocard also supports Intel's Clear Video acceleration which support deinterlacing and colour control.

The Intel GMA X3000 a maximum resolution of 2048x1536 at a refresh rate of 75 Hz. It supports analog, DVI, HDMI, Composite, S-Video and component output. As suggested the GMA X3000 works with both standard and High Definition displays (max 1080i) and support COPP/PMP with HDCP content protection.

It's important to note that the Intel GMA X3000 videocard is very driver dependant. The driver version that ships with the motherboard CD is 14.21, it does not fully support all of the GMA X3000's 3D features such as T&L support, independent rendering pipelines and shaders. The latest version on Intel's website, 14.25, fully supports all of the GMA X3000's graphical features and there are even rumors (unofficial of course) that future driver updates will add DirectX 10 support. Certainly interesting but remember it's onboard video so you can't let your expectations get too high with respect to 3D gaming... Next, a quick look around the motherboard itself.

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Contents of Article: Foxconn G9657MA-8KS2H
 Pg 1.  Foxconn G9657MA-8KS2H G965 Express Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — Intel G965 Express Chipset Overview
 Pg 3.  Foxconn Motherboard Highlights
 Pg 4.  High Definition Content Playback: System Load Test
 Pg 5.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SYSMark2004
 Pg 6.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PC WorldBench 5.0
 Pg 7.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Office Productivity, SiSoft Sandra
 Pg 8.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SuperPi, PCMark05
 Pg 9.  Motherboard Benchmarks: 3DMark05, 3DMark06
 Pg 10.  Motherboard Benchmarks: FarCry, Doom 3, Quake 4
 Pg 11.  GMA X3000 Good for Office Use

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