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Foxconn WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS
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Date: Feb 23, 2006
Section:Motherboards
Author: Matt Beauvais
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Introduction & Bundle

While the majority of our coverage here at HotHardware.com tends to favor enthusiast class products, the fact of the matter is affordable mainstream products are far more prevalent in the marketplace. Flagship video cards and overclockable motherboards are certainly nice, but there is a much larger market for highly integrated motherboards with a multitude of common features already on-board. With that in mind, we present to you the Foxconn WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS. Foxconn's WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS motherboard uses NVIDIA's relatively new GeForce 6150 + nForce 430 chipset with integrated graphics. Although the GeForce 6150 IGP isn't a pixel-processing powerhouse in comparison to most discreet graphics products, it is very capable in comparison to competing IGPs, and the rest of the chipset incorporates all of the features that have made NVIDIA's nForce 4 so popular. We'll get into more detail on the proceeding pages, but first things first. Let's get straight to the specifications.

Foxconn 6150K8MA-8EKRS Features and Specifications
The Nitty-Gritty

Dimension:

Micro ATX form factor 9.6" x 9.6"

Processor Support:

Socket 939 AMD Athlon64 & Athlon64 FX

Chipset:

Nvidia GeForce 6150 + nForce 430

Memory Support:

• Four 184-Pin DIMM slots
• Dual Channel DDR 266/333/400
_Unbuffered Non-ECC memory
• 128/256/512/1024Mb ram up to 4GB

Onboard Serial ATA II:

• Supports up to four S-ATA II devices
• Supports 300MB/s data transfer

NVIDIA RAID Technology:

• Supports RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1
_Raid 5
• Cross-controller RAID supports both
SATA
_and PATA disk devices within a single array
• Silicon 3132 RAID supports RAID 0, RAID 1

IEEE1394:

• Supports one 1394 units
• 400Mbps transmission rate

Onboard Gigabit LAN:

• Gigabit LAN
• 1000(-K) Mpbs Ethernet

Onboard Audio:

• Realtek AC97 audio
• Supports 7.1-channel audio
• SPDIF output and universal audio jack

Onboard Video:
• Nvidia GeForce 6150

BIOS:

• AWARD (Phoenix) BIOS

PCI Express x16 Support:

• 4GB/sec (8GB/sec concurrent) bandwidth

Expansion Slots:

• One PCI Express x16 slot
• Three PCI slots

 


  

The WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS' accessory bundle is fairly basic. Included in the box are a single IDE and Floppy cables, SATA and SATA power cables, and a CD and Floppy disk that contain all of the necessary files and drivers to get the board up and running. A quick start guide is included if you need help getting the board installed, however, if you want to read the full user's manual, you'll have to open the PDF file included on the driver CD. Foxconn has also included a TV / Video out adapter that will allow you to connect a TV to this motherboard, which should come in handy in an HTPC application.

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Taking a closer look

Taking a closer look at the Foxconn 6150K8MA-8EKRS
The electronic orange square

        

Those of you looking for an ornate beast of a motherboard to install into your large, spectacular cases decked out with multiple fans, windows and cathodes, probably won't go for a Micro-ATX board like the WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS's, but the Micro-ATX form factor is perfect for case modders or those looking to build more specialized systems like a media center or Home Theater PC (HTPC). It's small size makes the board easier to integrate into most enclosures and the use of passive cooling on its chipset makes for a lot less noise. Those of you looking for a motherboard for a HTPC setup will certainly appreciate the silence offered by the WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS's.

        

Because there is much less space to work with in the Micro-ATX form factor, the WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS's layout has a lot in common with the rest of the Micro-ATX motherboards out there. To the top right, you'll see your four DIMM slots, which support up to 4GB of DDR400 (PC3200) Memory. And the ATX Power connector, two IDE-ATA133 connectors and the Floppy port are located just behind the DIMM slots along on the front edge of the board.

Looking to the bottom left of the board, you'll notice the single PCI-E x16 slot, and three PCI slots. Though most devices are available in standard PCI format, we would have liked to have seen at least one PCI-E x1 slot but this is not a deal breaker by any means. On the bottom right you'll see the passively cooled Southbridge chip, as well as four SATA connectors. Finally, the large aluminum heatsink in the middle is in charge of keeping the GeForce 6150 chip cool. Even with its integrated graphics processor, a simple aluminum heatsink is enough to keep the chip running cool.

The GeForce 6150 IGP supports DirectX 9.0, Shader Model 3.0, OpenGL and NVIDIA's PureVideo Technology. PureVideo accelerates MPEG2 and WMVHD video playback in hardware, which offloads the video decoding tasks from the host CPU, freeing its resources for other tasks. And the DX and OpenGL support means the 6150 will be able to run just about any game on the market. It may not offer enough power for high-framerates, but the features necessary to even launch today's games are there.  That is not something that can be said for all competing IGPs.

The I/O backplane is home to four USB 2.0 ports, a single Firewire port, an RJ-45 Gigabit LAN jack, legacy parallel, serial and PS/2 ports, 6 audio jacks, and a DB15 video output. All of the ports are powered by the nForce 4 chipset, in conjunction with a Marvell PHY (LAN), a Realtek AC'97 audio codec, and a Ti controller (IEE1394).

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BIOS & Test System

Foxconn 6150K8MA-8EKRS BIOS
Man the controls!

  

  

The WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS' BIOS is relatively simple by today's standards. You're given control over boot settings, motherboard safety features such as CPU fan failure and CPU overheating, as well as the ability to turn off some of the board's integrated peripherals. The Frame Buffer size option allows you to set how much memory will be allocated for the on-board video, however when using a discreet graphics card, this feature will not be used. Some decent overclocking options are available, allowing you to raise HTT clock, change RAM timings, and set CPU and VDIMM voltages. But don't expect to max out your ram though, as the DIMM voltage option only goes up to 2.85v. Also, while you are able to change most of your memory timings manually, there is no option to specify 1T or 2T command rates. The options offered by the WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS will provide for some level of overclocking, but don't expect to set any kind of records. Of course, that is not what this board was designed for anyway.

Test system specifications
Building the beast

    Motherboards:

        Foxconn WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS
        ASUS A8N Deluxe

    Additional Hardware:

        Athlon64 3000+ (Winchester)
        2x512MB Mushkin Redline PC3200
        Onboard Video

        ASUS 6600GT 256MB
        Onboard Audio (7.1 AC97)
        80GB Western Digital Caviar ATA/100 HDs


 

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SANDRA & WorldBench 5

SiSoftware S.A.N.D.R.A.
Let's get ready to rumble!

  

We'll start off our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA benchmark software. We used the popular CPU Arithmetic, Multi-Media, and Memory Bandwidth benchmarks to gauge the performance of the 6150K8MA-8EKRS. The Arithmetic and Multi-Media benchmarks produce some solid results comparable with competing systems in the database, however, we were a little disappointed with the Memory Bandwidth test. Because there is no BIOS option to set the Command Rate of the memory it was automatically set to 2T, which lowered performance. That, in conjunction with the IGP sharing system memory resulted in lower than expected bandwidth scores.

World Bench 5: Photoshop 7.0.1 & WME Modules
Picture perfect performance?

With WorldBench Photoshop 7 performance module, we start to see the performance difference between using the on-board video and a dedicated graphics card. Because the IGP uses some system resources, the Foxconn WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS scored 439 in the test when powered by the GF 6150. However, with the on-board video disabled and a 6600GT 256MB installed, the score improved to 418. The board still falls slightly behind the high performance ASUS A8N Deluxe.

Switching over to the Windows Media Encoder 9 test, we see a similar pattern. With the on-board video enabled, a score of 518 was achieved. Once our video card was installed though, we managed to get a score of 489. The difference between Foxconn's offering and the ASUS A8N is a bit smaller this time, however the ASUS board still pulls ahead by a slight margin.

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PCMark05 & 3DMark06

Futuremark's PCMark 2005
Ready, Set, Mark!

Although PCMark05 is technically a synthetic benchmark, it is still a useful tool for judging relative performance between systems. Initially the Foxconn board scored 2411 points while using its on-board video. Once again though, the score improved when adding a video card, rising to 3090. The ASUS A8N Deluxe still came out on top, however, only by a small margin.

Futuremark's 3DMark 2006
The latest in graphics benchmarking from Futuremark

 

Next up, we have Futuremark's 3DMark06.  3DMark06 is the first of our tests to really stress the on-board GeForce 6150 IGP. Using integrated video, a score of only 200 was all the on-board video was able to muster. Adding the 6600GT into the mix, however, significantly helped performance, as you'd expect.  With a discreet graphics card installed the score jumps to 1639, only 23 points shy of the ASUS board. What more important than the length of the bar graphs here is the fact that the GeForce 6150 can even run 3DMark06. No small feat for an integrated graphics processor.

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Cinebench 2003 & LameMP3

Cinebench 2003
The quicker the better

The Cinebench 2003 benchmark is based on the Cinema 4D application. It renders and image and records the entire time it takes to complete the process. Unlike our previous results, even when using the on-board video, the scores remain very close here. Without a video card, the WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS finished the test in 103 seconds, and adding a video card helps the score by only a fraction of a second.

Lame MP3 Encoding
Tunes on the fly

Lame MP3 is a popular tool to encode MP3 files. We're sure many of our readers use this program, so it's a favorite benchmark of ours. Using our custom 237MB Wav file, we were able to encode it into the MP3 format in just 112 seconds with WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS while using its on-board video. Taking a little bit off the strain off the system by adding a discreet video card only drops the score by 1 second. The ASUS board is able to do no better in this round. So far, the Foxconn WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS has come up with some respectable numbers with the on-board video enabled, and it has also been able to keep up with the ASUS A8N Deluxe when using a discreet graphics card.

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Half-Life 2

Performance Comparisons with Half-Life 2
Details: http://www.half-life2.com/

Half Life 2
Thanks to the dedication of hardcore PC gamers and a huge mod-community, the original Half-Life became one of the most successful first person shooters of all time.  So, when Valve announced Half-Life 2 was close to completion in mid-2003, gamers the world over sat in eager anticipation. Unfortunately, thanks to a compromised internal network, the theft of a portion of the game's source code, and a tumultuous relationship with the game's distributor, Vivendi Universal, we all had to wait until November 2004 to get our hands on this classic. We benchmarked Half-Life 2 with a long, custom-recorded timedemo in the "Canals" map, that takes us through both outdoor and indoor environments. These tests were run at resolutions of 1024 x 768 and 1280 x 1024 without any anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering and with 4X anti-aliasing and 8X anisotropic filtering enabled concurrently.

 

 

Our first test with Half life 2 shows that even though NVIDIA's latest on-board graphics solution is more capable than previous offerings, it's still not powerful enough to provide a smooth gaming experience with one of today's hottest games. The best score we managed to get was 34.59 FPS when using no Anti-Aliasing or Anisotropic Filtering. Obviously, adding a discreet video card produced much better results, which are only a few FPS behind the ASUS A8N Deluxe board.

Raising the resolution only lowered the scores, but again though, adding a video card brings the Foxconn WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS within striking distance of its competition.

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Quake 4

 

Performance Comparisons with Quake 4
Can the 6150 handle the Strogg?

Quake 4
id Software, in conjunction with developer Raven, recently released the latest addition to the wildly popular Quake franchise, Quake 4. Quake 4 is based upon an updated and slightly modified version of the Doom 3 engine, and as such performance characteristics between the two titles are very similar.  Like Doom 3, Quake 4 is also an OpenGL game that uses extremely high-detailed textures and a ton of dynamic lighting and shadows, but unlike Doom3, Quake 4 features some outdoor environments as well. We ran this these Quake 4 benchmarks using a custom demo with the game set to its "Medium-Quality" mode, at resolutions of 1024 x 768 and 1280 x 1024 without anti-aliasing enabled and then again with 4X AA and 8X aniso enabled simultaneously.

 

Quake 4 proved to be a real challenge for the GF 6150 IGP, even though we benchmarked the game at its medium quality settings. When benchmarked with a discreet video card, and compared to the ASUS A8N Deluxe, the Foxconn WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS produces some good results which are almost on par Asus' offering.

At a resolution of 1280x1024, all you're going to get is a slide show when using the on-board video. With these settings and a 6600GT though, Foxconn's baby is able to keep in step with ASUS's A8N Deluxe. After our benchmarking, we were fairly impressed with how well the Foxconn board performed. Though the on-board video may not be powerful enough to deliver a smooth gaming experience with today's games, we're sure most older games and less graphically intense titles should run fairly well.

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Overclocking + Final Thoughts & Conclusion

Overclocking with Foxconn
Small price for large gains

The Foxconn WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS wasn't designed to be a stellar overclocker, but we spent some time tweaking our processor's clock speed anyway to see how the board would fare. Please keep in mind that this is not an enthusiast class mobo geared towards the overclocking community though, so any overclocking gains are welcomed. We were able to raise the board's HT clock to 230MHz, bringing our CPU speed up to 2070MHz. For this, we had to set our memory speed to 333MHz, and raised our VDIMM voltage to the maximum 2.85v. We decided to use the CPU intensive Quake 4 as our overclocking benchmark, and ended up seeing some decent performance improvements. With the 6600GT installed, the Foxconn WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS originally scored 62.6FPS at 1024x768 with no AA/AF. While overclocked though, the score increased to 65.9FPS.

There are a multitude of applications that are well suited to a Micro-ATX motherboard like the Foxconn WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS. Custom cases of all kinds are built around these small motherboards. And anyone willing to take some time to do a little searching on-line will realize just how much the case modding community appreciates the Micro-ATX form factor.

Looking back on our experience, we found the Foxconn WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS to be a very capable little motherboard. Performance was almost on par with the extremely popular ASUS A8N Deluxe, and more importantly, we did not run into a single compatibility, performance, or stability issue. These are always important things to consider, but they're especially important if you plan on building a custom system that's hard to work on or even an HTPC. Who wants to see a BSOD on their new high-def plasma TV? Not us. We were also impressed with NVIDIA's latest integrated graphics solution. While it's not going to be best choice for gamers, it's robust enough for most other computing tasks, and is perfect for those of you looking to build a Home Theater PC. Our only complaints with the Foxconn WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS are its very basic accessory bundle and the fact that we couldn't manually set the Command Rate in the BIOS. Despite those facts, it's a good budget board at about $80 on-line and we feel the Foxconn WinFast 6150K8MA-8EKRS deserves an 8 out of 10 on our Heat Meter.

_Micro-ATX Form Factor
_Inexpensive
_Good Feature Set
_Decent IGP performance
_No compatibility or stability issues
_Basic Accessory Bundle
_Lack of certain BIOS Features

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