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7/10

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Foxconn Mars

Foxconn has been beating the drum about its Quantum Force series of motherboards and in particular about its MARS model as you see on our sister site Bit-Tech You might reasonably think that MARS, or Mars to give it a less shouty name, is intended to help you work, rest and play, but instead the message seems a bit confused. Mars was the Roman god of war but the logo on the Gladiator BIOS looks more like a Spartan helmet to our eyes and and nothing to do with gladiators whatsoever. The board is not yet available but should be by the beginning of October.

The board is a conventional P35 model with dual graphics slots and support for DDR2 memory. It looks like a decent piece of hardware but there's nothing that immediately sets the Mars apart from similar models from Asus, Gigabyte or MSI and the feature list is a little uninspiring.
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Let's first deal with the limitations of the P35 chipset. The two graphics slots share 20 PCI-E lanes with a full 16 lanes going to the first graphics card and four lanes going to the second. Installing a second graphics card shuts down the two PCI-E x1 slots so these are best ignored, which is a pain if you fancy running CrossFire graphics along with a spanking new PCI-E Creative X-Fi sound card. If you install a pair of double slot graphics cards you can only use two out of the three PCI slots but that should be plenty for most people.

As P35 doesn't support IDE drives Foxconn has taken the logical step of adding a JMicron JMB361 chip to control the single ATA133 connector and it has also located an eSATA port on the I/O panel. You also get six USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire, Gigabit LAN and a full complement of analogue and digital audio connectors.

At the foot of the board there are six SATA300 connectors, which are all controlled by the ICH9R Southbridge along with three USB headers, one Firewire header and a COM header that is presumably meant for a Serial port.

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