Foxconn includes a bracket that adds two more USB ports and another mini Firewire which leaves two more USB headers for up to four case mounted USB ports. The only oddity is that the single PS/2 port is green and is dedicated for a mouse. It’s been some years since we last used a PS/2 mouse yet we prefer a PS/2 keyboard for testing as we can be sure we’ll be able to get into the BIOS settings no matter what problems we may hit. In this respect Foxconn has made a mistake but in every other respect the I/O panel is perfect.
It’s a similar story with the layout of the ELA as it is beyond reproach. The single IDE connector and six SATA connectors are laid down, to keep cables out the way, and the power connectors are at the edges of the board. Foxconn has used some imagination in the area of the processor socket which has been moved towards the I/O panel so the Northbridge can sit between the CPU and system memory slots instead of the usual position below the CPU.
This arrangement leaves plenty of space for the expansion slots including the triple graphics slots. The final part of the puzzle is the eight-phase power regulation hardware which is located at the top of the board under a passive cooler. The layout is neat and tidy and seems to work very well indeed. The only criticism we might raise is that the CPU fan connector is next to the eight-pin EATX connector where it is slightly awkward to reach once the PC has been built.
At the foot of the board there are the usual USB and Firewire headers as well as the front panel connectors, POST code debug display and three micro buttons. It’s a traffic light system with red for CMOS reset, amber for Restart and green for Power. The floppy connector is located in the same area which could cause problems but honestly, will you use a floppy drive in your new PC build?
We tested the ELA with a 3.0 GHz QX9650 processor and 2GB of dual channel Corsair memory and immediately found that the default speed of the memory was 800MHz. We increased the memory multiplier to give a speed of 1,066MHz, which locked the board solid and necessitated a BIOS reset. That’s an easy task thanks to the micro button however it highlights an annoying trait of Foxconn motherboards as the CPU multiplier is reset to a default figure of 60x. If you’ve been overclocking your memory or playing with latency figures it might not occur to you to check the CPU multiplier but rest assured, a QX9650 won’t POST at 20GHz.