975X Express Motherboard Round-Up: Foxconn, Abit, and MSI

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Our Summary & Conclusions

 

Performance Summary: All three of the 975X Express-based motherboards we tested performed similarly throughout all of our benchmarks. Overall, the Abit AW9D-MAX came away with the most benchmark victories, but the deltas separating the boards were always quite small. Strictly form a performance standpoint, there isn't much to differentiate the Abit AW9D-MAX, from the Foxconn 975X7AB-8EKRS2, or the MSI 975X Platinum v2. But, there are other things to consider of course.

 

Foxconn 975X7AB-8EKRS2H: There is a lot to like about Foxconn's 975X7AB-8EKRS2. According to our PriceGrabber price search engine, this motherboard is the least expensive of the three motherboards we looked at here, and could potentially be the least expensive, Core 2 compatible 975X Express-based motherboard available currently. At about $172, the Foxconn 975X7AB-8EKR2S is a relative steal. This motherboard exploits all of the features inherent to the 975X Express (CrossFire, HD Audio, Matrix RAID), and incorporates some innovations like Fox One and a solid state VRM. Performance and stability were both solid throughout our testing, and the board overclocked quite well. If you're in the market for a well appointed 975X Express-based motherboard, you owe it to yourself to check out the Foxconn 975X7AB-8EKRS2H.
  • Solid State VRM
  • Good Performance and Stability
  • Great Price
  • Good Bundle
  • Fox One
  • BIOS could use some refinement
  • Kind of Plain Looking

 

MSI 975X Platinum v2: By eliminating some ancillary features, like eSATA and a second GigE LAN controller, MSI was able to keep the price relatively low on the 975X Platinum v2.  The end result is a well-balanced motherboard with an undeniably appealing price to performance ratio.  For about $179, the MSI 975X Platinum v2 offers solid performance and stability, a decent set of overclocking tools, and about 95% of the features of more expensive, 975X Express-based motherboards.  Aside from a couple of minor layout faux pas, there is much to like about the 975X Platinum v2. We have absolutely no trouble recommending this motherboard to anyone looking to build a high-end Intel-based rig.

  • Competitive Price
  • Good Feature Set
  • Good Overclocking
  • Decent Bundle
  • Solid Performance
  • BIOS Reset Switch
  • No eSATA
  • No Dual-LAN
  • Some Poor Connector Placement

 

Abit AW9D-MAX: Abit is well known for creating motherboards geared strictly for hardcore enthusiasts. And on the surface, the AW9D-MAX seems to carry on this tradition. The board sports a very feature-rich BIOS, complete with a host of overclocking and health monitoring tools. It's dark colored PCB with custom heatsinks and heatpipes, and its POST code error reported and LED backlighting also suggest this isn't an every-day motherboard. The sum total of all its parts, however, leaves something to be desired. The AW9D-MAX's performance was top-notch, but it wasn't head and shoulders above the competition. It's slot configuration is lacking in our opinion.  It overclocked somewhere in between the Foxconn and MSI boards, and its price is about 15% higher than both. If the AW9D-MAX had one more PCI slot and it overclocked better than its competition, it would probably be one of our favorite LGA775 motherboard. As it stands though, it's difficult to justify its higher price in light of Foxconn's offering.

  • Great Performance
  • Solid Stability
  • Fully Loaded Bundle
  • Excellent BIOS
  • Poor Slot Configuration
  • Wasted Real Estate in Backplane

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