Motherboard Guide

Foxconn MARS review

Foxconn MARS (Intel P35)

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Onboard Features

Onboard Features

The Foxconn MARS is properly equipped with a wide array of features befitting its class as an enthusiast motherboard. As an Intel P35 motherboard, Foxconn has made sure that the MARS is fully updated to support Intel's quad-core and 45nm Penryn CPUs so there should be no problems upgrading. Still, the MARS is built only as a pure DDR2 board unlike the hybrid design of the Foxconn X38A. There is also no alternate DDR3 version like what many manufacturers offer for their P35 boards. Foxconn heavily marketing the board for overclocking though, and the use of DDR2 should make it a more stable platform to work on.

Intel's ICH9R Southbridge takes care of the default storage facilities onboard, with a JMicron JMB361 controller thrown in to handle one legacy IDE port as well as power the single eSATA port at the rear. In addition to the ICH9R, the board features one FireWire-400 controller (Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A), one PCIe Gigabit Ethernet controller (Realtek RTL8111B) and supports 8-channel surround audio through a Realtek ALC888 HD Audio CODEC. The MARS also provides optical and coaxial S/PDIF ports for digital audio connectivity.

The MARS features two PCIe x16 slots, two PCIe x1 and three regular PCI slots for expansion purposes. CrossFire is supported, but as a P35 board, it will only work in an x16/x4 setup. If you do run CrossFire on the MARS, note that the remaining two PCIe x1 slots will be disabled to route the needed PCIe lanes to the second slot.

This has to be one of Foxconn's better motherboard designs. We wouldn't be surprised if one might even mistake the dark PCB for an ASUS board (yes, we know there's a huge unmistakable cooler with Foxconn emblazoned on it). Foxconn did a very good job here with proper planning and component placement. Both PCIe x16 graphics slots have plenty of spacing between them, and there are no headers in the way either. Still, we prefer angled SATA connectors, which allows for better positioning. The MARS may have them out of the way of expansion cards, but they're all located at the bottom.

As the MARS is Foxconn's attempt at an enthusiast performance motherboard, we've got the usual treatment of heat-pipe cooling, full solid capacitors, 6-phase PWM, and on-PCB power/reset buttons. The board also features a special overclocking BIOS, which we'll talk about more in the next segment.