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Appeared on: Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Foxconn A75A review


1. Features, specs

The Foxconn A75A motherboard has been designed to bring vitality to the mainstream PC market. The A75A supports AMD's FM1 socket CPUs and offers enhanced connectivity and entertainment capability.

Starting from the CPU, the A75A supports AMD's Llano APU processors for desktops - the A4/A6/A8 series of APUs. These are are equipped with AMD's new Turbo CORE technology 2.0, which increases APU performance by dynamically adjusting processor speeds for the best application performance within thermal and power limits.

The motherboard is based on the AMD Hudson D3 chipset with a DirectX 11 graphics engine and AMD UVD 3.0 technology. UVD supports Blu-ray content, whilst offloading power and processor-intensive video decoding from the CPU to the graphics core. In addition, Dual Graphics Technology can simultaneously utilize the power of the APU graphics engine and the discrete GPU graphics processor to deliver increased performance.

The Foxconn A75M motherboard also ships with HDMI 1.4, which can support 3D video playback, as well as with a full range of video output options, such as HDMI/DVI/D-Sub and other optical audio output.

Smart charger is another creation provided by Foxconn engineers. The most attractive feature of it is its quick charging. With the Fox iPad Charger, you can charge not only for iPad, but also iPod or Phone freely just by connecting it to the USB port.

- Full Specifications

Processor: AMD FM1 socket CPU , Quad-Core CPU; Up to 4 "Husky" CPU Cores
Chipset: AMD Hudson D3 co-lay D2 Chipset (default D3)
Front Side Bus:
Memory: Dual channel DDR3 1866/1600/1333 x 4 DIMMs, Max. 64GB
VGA on Die:
Expansion Slots: 1* PCIe x16, 2* PCIe x1,3* PCI
IDE: N/A
Serial ATA(SATA)/RAID: 6* SATAIII ,SATA RAID 0,1,10
Audio: Supports 7.1 channel audio co-lay 5.1 channel
LAN: Supports Gbe Lan
IEEE1394: N/A
Back Panel I/O Ports: 1x PS/2 keyboard port 
1x VGA port 
1x DVI port 
1x audio jack supports 3 jacks co-lay 6 jacks( default 6 jacks) 
1x S/PDIF out port(optical) 
6x USB 2.0 ports 
2x USB 3.0 ports 
1x RJ45 Lan port
Internal I/O Connectors: 1x ATX 24-Pin power connector 
1x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector 
3x 4-pin CPU / System Fan connector 
1x CD-in connector 
1x Speaker header 
6x Serial ATA connectors 
2x USB 2.0 headers 
1x USB 3.0 headers 
1x TPM/TCM header 
1x Intrusion Alarm header 
1x Buzzer (reserved) 
1x COM header 
1x Front Panel header 
1x S/PDIF out header(reserved) 
1x Front Audio header 
1x IR/CIR header (default IR)
BIOS Features: 16Mb flash EEPROM w/ LAN boot PnP, ACPI, WfM, DMI 2.0
Support CD: Drivers, Adobe Reader, SuperUtilities, Norton Internet Security
Standards/Manageability: Supports up to 10 USB 2.0 ports + 4USB 3.0
Form Factor: ATX form factor 12 inch x 9.0 inch

2. Package, PCB

The Foxconn A75A motherboard is available online at the price range of $100~130. The board's package has the typical Foxconn Design with some sticker at the bottom left indicating the product's features.

 

The package includes just the essentials:

  1. The motherboard itself
  2. 2x SATA Cable
  3. CD containing Drivers, Antivirus and other software
  4. Rear I/O Shield
  5. Quick reference manual

The mainboard's design is clean and the areas of interest such as the CPU, memory and slots and SATA ports are easily identified as they are colored in yellow or black:

Below you see the detailed layout of the board and information about its main parts and components:

The 5-phase power VRM design is nothing new for many of you with some experience on motherboards. Without any passive heatsinks and large components around the socket, you will be able to easily fit any kind on cooler for your AMD CPU - although we believe that AMD's stock cooler be just efficient for this platform:

Up to 32GB of memory can be installed in the four available memory slots. According to Foxconn, the motherboard supports DDR3 memory clocked at 1866MHz:

Overall, the back panel contains the following ports and connectors:

The A75A motherboard supports:

 

There are 6 SATA III (!) ports in case you need to install additional HDDs, SSDs or ODDs. These ports are positioned in a row, something we do not see very often. In addition, many USB headers are available to connect them with the corresponding ports found on your PC case:

The following connectors and headers are available on the board:

The A75A features support for AMD's A-series mainstream Fusion processors, which means that you can pair this board up with an AMD A4/A6/A8 Fusion processor. For our tests we used an AMD A8 3850 processor, running at 2.9GHz:


3. BIOS, bundled software

- Bios

The Foxconn A75A BIOS is based on the American Megatrends design. Most of you will find it easy to navigate since it doesn't have any advanced options for overclocking. The following video (HD) gives a quick overview of the bios:

 

- Fox One

Unlike other motherboard makers, Foxconn doesn't offer a Windows-based software for managing or tweaking the A75A motherboard. The "CPU" and "Frequency" tabs on the Fox One software are disabled, so you can only see basic information about the cpu/dram as well as change is the memory DIMM voltage. You can also disable automatic control of the processor fan rotation speed and use a fixed RPM value instead:

 


4. Benchmarks

Here is our system set up:

- Motherboard: Foxconn A75A with P05 BIOS
- CPU: AMD A8 3850 retail
- CPU Cooler: AMD Stock
- Memory: Crucial Ballistix DDR3 PC3-17000 (BL2KIT25664FN2139)
- VGA: Gigabyte GT-430 (Nvidia Based) / On board
- HDD: WD 5001ALLS (500GB, 7200rpm Black Scorpio series) + Seagate 7200.12 500GB
- OS: Windows 7 x64 SP1 with all the latest updates installed
- VGA driver: Nvidia 275.33 x64 drivers

The Foxconn A75A came with P01 bios installed, which we updated to the latest P05. Since they were not any tools integrated into the BIOS for flashing it, we had to boot in DOS mode and launch flash.bat file.

Our system recognized the installed AMD A8-3850 CPU and the core voltage was set to 1.056V. The motherboard doesn't allow any kind of overclocking so you are stack with the CPU's nominal 2.90GHz:

The CPU-Z didn't give us any information about the memory speed, but we suspect it runs at 1066MHz. That's rather disappointing since the motherboard was supposed to run at 1866MHz, which our memory supports:

Below you see the performance results of the Foxconn A75A motherboard paired with an AMD A8 3850 CPU, compared with other systems. It seems that the AMD A8-3850 is slower than an AMD Phenom II X4 955 processor:

Compared with other systems we have already tested, the A75A scores lower and it seems that the system doesn't get much help from the memory performance, giving a poor 6.83MB/sec result in the Sandra memory test.

 
PCMark 7
CineBench R11.5
Sandra Memory
Foxconn Rattler Intel i5-2500k @ 1.6~3.4GHz with DDR3-2133
3120
5.19pts
27.00MB/sec
Foxconn A75A with AMD A8 3850
2458
3.37pts
6.83MB/sec
Gigabyte Z68X-UD3P-B3 Intel i5-2500K @ 1.6~3.7GHz with DDR3-2133
2974
5.88pts
27.34MB/sec
Foxconn Z68A-S Foxconn Rattler Intel i5-2500k @ 1.6~3.4GHz with DDR3-2133
3091
5.39pts
27.9MB/sec

5. Overclocking, GPU benchmarks

- Overclocking

As an entry-level motherboard, the Foxconn A75A does not offer any options for overclocking. In addition, AMD's Overdrive overclocking utility doesn't work at all, so we had not the chance to test the stability of this motherboard under non-nominal speeds for the GPU and the memory.

- AMD 6550D Graphics

In order to take advantage of the CPU's onboard graphics, you should o download the latest AMD Catalyst drivers first. According to the CPU-Z the GPU's clock is set to 600Mhz with the memory running at 100Mhz:

ATI Catalyst 11.9 offers more information about the GPU:

We expected the integrated Radeon HD 6550D to generally perform between a Radeon HD 6450 and 5570, but it seems that the low memory speed of the A75A system set up was not feeding the GPU fast enough to reach these performance levels. According to our tests, you shouldn't expect much from the HD6550D as it is just faster than a GT210 standalone graphics card:

Compared with an ATI Radeon HD 4800 series, the AMD HD 6550D is much less capable:

Real gaming confirmed the above findings. At the StreetFighter IV game, the A75A system is able offer more than 30FPS at 1280x1024 with 16AF. Lowering the image quality settings will also help with more demanding games:

We also got a 11.30FPS at the Unigine Benchmark:


6. Final thoughts

The Foxconn A75A is an affordable motherboard for AMD's FM1 processors. The onboard VGA/DVI ports will get you a perfect system mostly for office use and light gaming. In addition, the media playback is superb and the HD 6550D GPU can playback even the most demanding AV material.

The motherboard is fair enough for the category, although it could be higher, if it supported our memory at 1866MHz. This mainboard is targeted for those users who do not deal with any overclocking - the BIOS doesn't really offer any special features/tweaks to play with performance.

This mainboard is targeted for those users who do not deal with any overclocking and prefer to have their systems run in nominal mode under default settings. In this respect, the mainboard has every chance for popularity, For instance, office users who wish a stable operation at stock speeds plus basic onboard graphics would find it a great solution. Plus, the price of this product is attractive and the power savings of AMD's onboard GPU (instead of a a discrete card) is appealing.

+ Positive

- Well-built and clean layout
- No problems during casual operation
- Includes six SATA III ports
- Includes two USB3.0 ports
- The onboard graphics solutions (HD6550D) performs fairly well
- Low retail price

- Negative

- BIOS options are very limited
- Foxconn One software doesn't fully support this motherboard
- Memory compatibility could be better



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