Performance Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: On average, the Foxconn 945P7AA and Gigabyte GA-8I945P-G were very competitive on a performance level. In every instance, the variance in scores were extremely close, with no one board having a clear advantage over the other. With several of the single-threaded tests, such as gaming, MP3 encoding and Office Application testing, the older Athlon 3200+ Clawhammer-based CPU was the better performer. However, once we factored in the multi-threaded testing, the Pentium D 820 and 945 chipset showed the real advantages of dual-core processing.
With dual-core processors ushering in the next evolution in personal computing, we expect to see an increase in the number of related products from both Intel and AMD. The benefits of two cores is becoming clearer and clearer as the new technology continues to permeate the market. The benefits not only allow users to tap the potential of multi-threaded applications, but there are multitasking benefits as well as two single-threaded applications can utilize their own cores at any given time.
Both Foxconn and Gigabyte bring viable options to the table for those looking to upgrade to a Pentium D processor. The Gigabyte GA-8I945P-G brings a solid feature set and decent overclocking potential but it doesn't have all of the features offered by the Foxconn board, like Firewire or SuperRecovery for example. We did have a relatively weak overclocking experience with the memory, but CPU overclocking was very good.
The Foxconn 945P7AA-8EKRS2 brings more features to the table, including FireWire support, but is hindered somewhat by its limited overclocking potential. This is something that has been the norm for most of the motherboards we've reviewed from Foxconn. Overclocking has historically not been a strong point, or focus, for Foxconn, although their products have improved steadily over time. Nonetheless, aside from a loose fitting heatsink on the Northbridge, the build quality seemed good and the BIOS was adequate for performance tweaking and light overclocking.
In summary, if overclocking is not a major factor, the Foxconn 945P7AA-8EKRS2 is a great choice, with its well balanced feature set and solid stock performance. With an MSRP of $150 (street prices should be lower), we think it's a good value, especially if FireWire is important to you.
However, if overclocking is more important to you than FireWire support, the Gigabyte GA-8I945P-G board has a solid feature set as well, and currently sells at a more palatable $125. The Gigabyte GA-8I945P also proved to be more adept at overclocking, and had an extensive selection or related options in its system BIOS. In the end, for our audience we feel the GA-8I945P-G should get the nod.
We Give the Gigabyte GA-8I945P-G a Hot Hardware Heat Meter Rating of a 8.5
We Give the Foxconn 945P7AA-8EKRS2 a Hot Hardware Heat Meter Rating of an 8