The Board, the BIOS and Overclocking
Built upon a blue PCB, the 755A01 is long on looks, with a clean layout that leaves us with little to be critical of. Driven by the SiS755 Northbridge and SiS964 Southbridge, the board brings a healthy feature set to the table. This model is equipped with a common 1-AGP8X/5-PCI slot configuration that supports the latest video cards available while supplying plenty of options for expansion. The system comes with a total of 3 DIMM slots supporting up to 1GB of DDR memory per slot. Adjacent to the DIMM slots Foxconn positioned two ATA133 connections as well as a Floppy connection and ATX main power. A secondary 12v power connector is located at the upper left of the CPU socket to supplement power to the processor. The board also comes with two pairs of SATA connectors, two of which are driven independently by the 964 Southbridge which supports RAID 0, 1 and JBOD (Spanning). The other pair of SATA connectors are powered by a Sil3112 SATA RAID controller offering both Raid 0 and 1 functionality.
The board is also equipped with a series of headers along the left edge. Two additional USB 2.0 headers can be used to expand the available ports by 4, for a grand total of 8. An IEEE1394 header is also provided for expanded FireWire capability. Sadly, Foxconn does not provide the necessary hardware to take advantage of these features. The 755A01 comes with integrated audio powered by Realtek's ALC655 codec delivering 5.1 audio channels. The Foxconn 755A01 comes with Gigabit Ethernet that is powered by Realtek's 8110 LAN controller, offering transfer rates up to 1000Mbps. Oddly, Foxconn opted not to take advantage of the SiS964's integrated 10/100 Ethernet capabilities, whereas, we think a second Ethernet connection is always preferable if the capability is there.
The Foxconn 755A01-6EKRS is equipped with a Phoenix AwardBIOS. This particular version holds some unique features that stand out compared to a lot of other motherboards. The first is the BIOS Features page, which holds some of the more interesting features of this board. The first item is SuperBoot, which aims to reduce the boot time of a system. Foxconn achieves this by creating a profile of the system on first boot and then saving this information for subsequent re-boots. We saw a slight improvement in boot time, but it was only noticeable when we actually timed the process. The next item was SuperBios-Protect which protects the BIOS from being overwritten by a virus. SuperSpeed, which can be used to overclock your CPU, offers a frequency range from 200 to 232MHz. Lastly was the SuperRecovery Hotkey. This setting works in conjunction with an IDE drive to allow users to allocate a hidden partition for backing up and restoring hard drive data. Think of this feature as Norton Ghost built into the BIOS.
When it comes to memory configuration, the Foxconn 755A01 offers with a slew of options. We doubt most users will need to delve this deep into memory configuration, but some of the more hardcore users should appreciate the plethora of options available. The DRAM timings can be configured for Auto or Manual whereas the memory clock can be set for 100, 133, 166 and 200. CAS latency can be set to run at 2, 2.5 or 3 depending solely on the module's capability.
Unlike the memory configuration page, the Frequency/Voltage Control page was spartan, offering PCI Clock, Asyn and Spread Spectrum settings. Completely missing from this page was any voltage adjustments whatsoever, immediately reducing our expectations for any real overclocking potential. Aside from overclocking, we think at the least a DRAM voltage option should be available on all boards ranging from 2.6-2.8v at minimum. We have found on a number of occasions that high performance memory can be quite finicky about voltage and a mere .1v increase can mean the difference between an unusable system and one that is totally stable. Hopefully Foxconn will take this into account in future versions of their motherboards.