Foxconn is one of the most synonymous names in computing technologies. Most of the sockets that you find on a motherboard are produced by Foxconn. Sockets like CPU interface sockets, PCI Express slots and just about every other interface socket you can imagine.Foxconn now has another department on its hands - a retail channel division devoted to producing motherboard, chassis, power supplies, coolers and virtually anything devoted to computers.Foxconn, not more than a year or more ago, purchased the manufacturing capabilities from Leadtek which included the rights to produce motherboards under the Winfast name. Winfast was a trademark name for Leadtek motherboard and graphics cards but now this name belongs to Foxconn.Today we are testing one of Foxconn's newest motherboards for the HTPC market. Designed with nVidia's latest 6150 chipset for Socket 939 AMD processors and based on a Micro ATX form factor, this board is designed to take the HTPC world by storm but will it do it?Let's have a look.
SpecificationsSpecifications of the Foxconn Winfast 6150K8MDCPU
Supports AMD Athlon 64 3000+ ~ 3800+ Supports AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ ~ 4800+Supports AMD Athlon 64 FX 53 ~ FX 60Chipset
nVidia GeForce 6150nVidia 6150 NorthbridgenVidia MCP430 SouthbridgeHyper Transport @ 800Mhz (3.2GB/s)System Memory
4 DDR SDRAM 186pin DIMM SocketsSupports DDR-266/333/400Mhz64/128Bit Dual ChannelSupports up to 4GB Total Memory (4x 1GB)Bus Frequency
200MHz Internal800/1600/2000MHz ExternalHyper Transport Expansion Slots
1 PCI Express x161 PCI Express x13 PCIConnectivity
2 Parallel ATA port supporting 4 IDE Drives4 Serial ATA ports1 Gigabit Ethernet PortExpansion Ports
1 PS2 Keyboard Port1 PS2 Mouse Port10 USB 2.0 Ports (4 rear accessible, 6 via expansion bracket)1 CRT Port1 DVI-I Port1 Parallel Port6 Stereo Audio Ports
Inside the BoxPackage and Contents
First off as always we take a look at the packaging and what you get for your hard earned dollar. The Winfast packaging is very plain; in fact, it is the same box for all Micro ATX boards Foxconn puts out, just with a different sticker on the front of the box. This does reduce packing costs; however, it would be nice to have a more attractive box.
Foxconn provides very little information on the back of the box. They provide basic information on features that the series of boards support in a number of languages. Apart from this basic info, there is no great information on what the board itself features, so you're buying blind unless you're reading this review.
One thing that Foxconn doesn't provide is a detailed paper user manual. To save on costs a basic installation paper is included. This includes information on the cables, plugs and installation tips. For a thorough user manual, you need to install Windows and access the PDF file on the included CD.
The CD contains the detailed user manual along with all the Windows drivers, software and boot loader drivers needed to get Windows installed. This CD comes with drivers for Windows XP 64-bit if you are lucky enough to have this version.
Since the board comes with a built in graphics system, if you choose to use this setup, you get this extra bracket. This adds RGB ports to the back, allowing you to connect the system to a component video system, commonly used by HDTV's.
Lastly we have the I/O shield. All boards that come to us these days carry their own I/O shields. This is simply because the ATX port standard is now outdated, and you need to have your own I/O port cover in order to fit into the ATX cases on the market. This is good as the older AT standard needed you to have one port layout, and you couldn't change it if you wanted to - ATX and BTX allow extreme flexibility.
The MotherboardThe Motherboard
Now we get down to the nitty gritty of the board itself. First and foremost this board isn't designed for true hardcore users who want to break a 3DMark record. If you want a hardcore board, this isn't going to be a good review for you. This board is aimed at value systems as well as the integrated market like the HTPC's that many want to build these days. The board is a Micro-ATX layout measuring 24.5x24.5cm. This is small enough to fit into the most demanding Micro ATX case. HTPC cases are especially tight, as their design is to minimize size as much as possible. Layout and placement of connectors, plugs and so forth are pretty well thought out. The 24-pin ATX power connector and FDD connector are at the top right of the board. Just below this are the 2 IDE connectors, all located behind the DIMM sockets. The only flaw is the placement of the 4-pin CPU power connector between the Northbridge heatsink and the I/O shield. In a Micro ATX case, cooling is at a premium and routing cables near the CPU is a bit no-no to air flow dynamics.The 4 SATA ports are located at the bottom right of the board just beside and below the Southbridge chipset.
Layout around the CPU is clean and tidy, if you want to put the largest Socket 939 cooler onto this board you won't have any obstructions to worry about. Power is supplied to the CPU through a 3 phase switching voltage regulation system. While more phases are better for stability, overclocking to the max in a micro ATX system is kind of redundant.
The I/O ports at the rear of the board are pretty standard for the most part. The main difference is there are no serial ports. They have been removed to make way for a 15-pin standard Video port and a DVI-I video port. If you want to run dual monitors off this board's onboard video system, there's nothing to hold you back.
Expansion slots are plentiful for a Micro-ATX layout. You have a PCI Express x16 slot for a dedicated graphics card. Next you have a singe PCI Express x1 slot which you can add in devices like the new TV tuners from ATI based on the PCI Express architecture. Lastly are 3 PCI slots for legacy cards like Sound cards or the older TV tuners.
The Motherboard ContinuedThe Motherboard Continued
The chipset used is nVidia's GeForce 6150. This is the latest chipset from nVidia for the value and integrated markets and is another of the 2 chip solutions from nVidia. There is the GeForce 6150 Northbridge and the MCP430 Southbridge. The nVidia GeForce 6150 Northbridge brings GeForce 6 GPU to the Northbridge along with a hardware based HD rendering engine to allow HD gaming as well as HDTV support. The unique nature of the GeForce 6150 compared to the ATI Xpress 200 series is that this chipset allows you to run Dual Graphics system. That is if you install a graphics card into the PCI Express x16 slot, you can have the option to keep the onboard graphics system working. This allows you to take advantage of the onboard graphics and the external graphics to give you quad monitor support.The integrated graphics core of the GeForce 6150 is almost unchanged from the 6100, only a High Definition rendering engine has been added for gaming and HDTV purposes - ideal for the HTPC market. The core uses the Unified Memory Architecture, or in simple terms, some of the system memory will be used to give the onboard graphics its frame buffer, similar to how the 6200 Turbo Cache works.In terms of performance, the 6150 graphics core comes in under the GeForce 6200 based cards. There are only 2 Pixel Pipelines and 1 Vertex Shader engine compared to a 6200's 4 Pixel Pipes and 2 Vertex Engines. Engine Clock of the 6150's GPU runs at 475MHz, which is 175MHz faster than the 6200.Next up is the new and improved nForce MCP430. This new Southbridge was added by nVidia to aid the adoption of the Digital Home, similar to Intel's DH series of Southbridges. The MCP430 adds a few extra features to its predecessor to jumpstart the Digital Home revolution towards the nVidia platform. First on the list is HD Audio. This has been elusive from nVidia since the removal of Sound Storm, the first ever hardware HD audio integrated into a Southbridge, and this was from nVidia back in the nForce 2 days. Using the Intel Azalia Audio specs, nVidia has added a 7.1 HD audio controller into the MCP430.A single 4 port SATA-II controller system has been added to give you 4 SATA ports supporting 300MB/s transfer rates, NCQ and all the SATA 2.5 specs require including RAID level 0, 1, 0+1 and 5.Beefing up on the MCP410 is nVidia's onboard Gigabit Ethernet controller which is attached directly to the chipset, so no PCI bandwidth or PCI Express lanes are taken up by this addition.
To make the Digital Home requirements these days (though its not written anywhere as a law) you will want to have Firewire support. Foxconn knows this and has added in a 2 port Texas Instruments IEEE1394a PCI controller chip. These ports can be accessed by an optional bracket or routed to front panel ports on most HTPC cases supporting a Firewire port.
Lastly is the Marvell PHY controller chip used to interface between the RJ45 port on the rear I/O to the Southbridge's integrated Gigabit LAN controller.
BIOS and OverclockingBIOS and Overclocking
Now we take a look at the BIOS and the overclocking potential. Using the latest BIOS, which at time of release was S1.3 (dated April 25th 2006), you get a good amount of overclocking and tweaking features for a Micro ATX based value board.
The Foxconn 6150K8MD uses an Award 6 BIOS that resembles just about every other board using this same BIOS. Foxconn places its major overclocking and tweaking features under the Advanced Chipset features and the BIOS features menu.
Once you enter the BIOS Features menu, to gain access to the overclocking features you need to open up the SuperSpeed sub menu. Once there you get the majority of the clocking features.
Once in the SuperSpeed menu you will need to concern yourself with the last few options for the overclocking. Hammer FID controls the CPU multiplier. You can adjust them from 4x up to the maximum of what your CPU supports - in the case of our 4200+, it was 11x.DIMM voltage is a little under powered with settings from 2.60V up to a maximum of 2.85V in 0.05V increments. VCore Voltage select is used to change the CPU voltage supply - options are from +20mV to +140mV in 20mV increments. Speaking in normal terms you can adjust the CPU voltage from its default to a maximum of +0.14V above standard. Lastly on the voltage front is the chipset voltage. Voltage is either +50mV or +100mV.
To get to the bus overclocking you need to enter the Performance Option Sub Menu. Once you enter you are faced with two extra options. First is the CPU Frequency. This can be adjusted from 200MHz to a maximum of 450MHz in 1MHz increments. Lastly is the PCIE Clock with adjustments from 100MHz to 145MHz in 1MHz increments. For best results it is advised to leave the PCIE clock at 100MHz.
For the rest of your tweaking options you will find under the Advanced Chipset Features menu. Here you can adjust DRAM clock and timings as well as adjustments to the Hyper Transport links from Northbridge to CPU and Northbridge to Southbridge. Frame Buffer size for using the onboard Graphics can be selected at 16MB, 32MB, 64MB or 128MB.With all the settings here we managed to get an FSB of 252MHz with the CPU running +100mV, DRAM at 2.8v, chipset voltage at standard and all HT links all running at 3x.
Benchmarks - Test System Setup and SandraTest System SetupProcessor
: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ (at 2.2GHz and 2.77GHz)Memory
: 2x 512MB Corsair DDR-533Hard Disk
: 2x Seagate 7200.9 in RAID 0 (Supplied by Seagate
: ASUS GeForce 7800GT (Supplied by ASUS
: Microsoft Windows XP SP2Drivers
: nVidia ForceWare 84.21, nVidia Southbridge Driver 8.22 and DX9cToday we are comparing the Foxconn 6150K8MD Motherboard against the fast ABIT AN8 32x (based on nVidia nForce4 16x chipset). This will be a good test for the Foxconn board to see how it stands up against one of the fastest Socket 939 motherboards on the market.Our overclocking tests were performed using the highest possible FSB obtained while keeping the CPU as safe in the overclocking range as possible.For our Foxconn test system this was done with a CPU multiplier of 11x and a FSB of 252MHz, giving us a stable speed at 2.77GHz using a water cooled setup. Our ABIT system managed to run at 310MHz FSB with a multiplier of 9x for a grand total of 2.79GHz. The memory speed on both motherboards is running at 1:1 at default SPD timings, so the ABIT board has a clear advantage.SiSoft SandraVersion and / or Patch Used:
2007Developer Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.co.ukProduct Homepage: http://sisoftware.jaggedonline.com/index.php?location=home&a=TTA&lang=enBuy It Here
SiSoft Sandra (S
iagnostic and R
ssistant) is a synthetic Windows benchmark that features different tests used to evaluate different PC subsystems.
Here we see at stock clocks that the 6150 based Foxconn and the nForce 4 SLI x16 ABIT AN8 32X perform identical. Overclocking the Foxconn board gives the memory bandwidth that extra boost but due to its inability to clock as high as the ABIT board, it falls behind.
Benchmarks - PCMarkPCMarkVersion and / or Patch Used:
1.1.0Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/pcmark04/Buy It Here
PCMark is a multipurpose benchmark, suited for benchmarking all kinds of PCs, from laptops to workstations, as well as across multiple Windows operating systems. This easy-to-use benchmark makes professional strength benchmarking software available even to novice users. PCMark consists of a series of tests that represent common tasks in home and office programs. PCMark also covers many additional areas outside the scope of other MadOnion.com benchmarks.
Clock for clock all is even. Overclocking shows ABIT in front due to superior overall clock speeds.
Benchmarks - 3DMark033DMark03Version and / or Patch Used:
Build 360Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark03/Buy It Here
By combining full DX8 and partial DX9 support with completely new tests and graphics over the previous version, 3DMark03 continues the legacy of being the industry standard 3D benchmark.Please Note: Due to recent events with the 3DMark03 series, we are adding results purely for those who are still in favor of 3DMark03. These results should not be taken too seriously and are only added for interest sakes.
Foxconn manages a good score - not too far behind the ABIT in the overclocking results.
Benchmarks - 3DMark053DMark05Version and / or Patch Used:
Build 120Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark05/Buy It Here
3DMark05 is now the second latest version in the popular 3DMark "Gamers Benchmark" series. It includes a complete set of DX9 benchmarks which tests Shader Model 2.0 and higher.For more information on the 3DMark05 benchmark, we recommend you read our preview here
Here we can now see that the Foxconn falls behind in overclocked results.
Benchmarks - 3DMark063DMark06Version and / or Patch Used:
Build 102Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/Buy It Here
3DMark06 is the very latest version of the "Gamers Benchmark" from FutureMark. The newest version of 3DMark expands on the tests in 3DMark05 by adding graphical effects using Shader Model 3.0 and HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) which will push even the best DX9 graphics cards to the extremes.3DMark06 also focuses on not just the GPU but the CPU using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library to effectively test single and Dual Core processors.
When putting more stress onto the system we see that Foxconn is equal all round at stock speeds but falls behind due to lack of clock speed in overclocking.
Benchmarks - Doom 3Doom 3Version and / or Patch Used:
UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used:
Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.idsoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.doom3.comBuy It Here
Doom 3 is still one of the most popular games at the moment and is quite intensive in the 3D department. With our own custom time demo we are able to give a realistic rating on what kind of FPS you will be achieving.For more information on benchmarking Doom 3 we recommend you check out our extensive article regarding it here
Doom 3 in real world shows that overclocking helps equate to a better score.
Benchmarks - Quake 4Quake 4Version and / or Patch Used:
UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used:
Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.idsoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.quake4game.comBuy It Here
Quake 4 is one of the latest new games to be added to our benchmark suite. It is based off the popular Doom 3 engine and as a result uses many of the features seen in Doom. However, Quake 4 graphics are more intensive than Doom 3 and should put more strain on different parts of the system.
Quake 4 also shows overclocking to boost the overall score but still not able to beat ABIT's result in the overclocking.
Benchmarks - F.E.A.R.F.E.A.R.Version and / or Patch Used:
UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used:
Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.vugames.com Product Homepage: http://www.whatisfear.com/us/Buy It Here
F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) is an intense combat experience with rich atmosphere and a deeply intense paranormal storyline presented entirely in first person. Be the hero in your own spine-tingling epic of action, tension, and terror...and discover the true meaning of F.E.A.R.
F.E.A.R. gains quite a bit when overclocking the system.
Benchmarks - Far CryFar CryVersion and / or Patch Used:
1.3Timedemo or Level Used:
Benchemall TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.crytek.comProduct Homepage: http://www.farcrygame.comBuy It Here
While Far Cry is now one of our older benchmarking games, it is still able to put pressure on most computers systems. Utilizing PS2.0 technology with the latest versions support Shader Model 3.0 with DX9c and offering an exceptional visual experience, there is no denying that even some of the faster graphics cards get a bit of a workout.
Things are all pretty close as usual at default clock speeds but ABIT takes the lead due to the higher overclock.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
nVidia's GeForce 6150 chipset is an ideal companion for the HTPC integrated market. While the onboard graphics won't win any gaming battles, when it comes down to the basics for rendering Windows, displaying your monitor on the TV, this graphics system is just as good as any discrete graphics card that you will find.Foxconn has done a great job to produce a board for the HTPC market that not only has all the features you will need, it also has some fairly decent overclocking results.Overall if you want to put a HTPC together using AMD64 technology, it's hard to go past the Foxconn 6150K8MD motherboard as your choice of hardware. It has pretty much everything you would be looking for and only misses a couple of options which might not be of any use to you anyway.- Pros
Perfect base for your HTPC systemFastPassive cooling for quieter computingHardware HD rendering engine built into onboard GeForce 6150Onboard DVI port and HD component video outputSupports all Socket 939 processorsReasonable overclockingFirewire and Gigabit networking support- Cons
Placement of the 4-pin power connectorLacks optical or digital coaxial audio outputVery simple packageNo HDMI port but hardly any motherboards include it so farRating - 8 out of 10