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Last week we reviewed the Foxconn Blood Rage Gti that costs £223 and now it's time to move our sights below the £200 mark as we take a look at the Foxconn Flaming Blade. The main difference between the two models is that Blood Rage and Blood Rage GTi support four PCI Express 2.0 graphics slots. Blood Rage offers 16 lanes of bandwidth per card if you employ dual ATi or Nvidia cards although that figure drops to eight lanes per card if you pack out the board with four graphics cards.
By contrast the Flaming Blade only supports dual graphics cards but that makes perfect sense as far as we are concerned. We rarely get the urge to gang up three or four single slot graphics cards and feel that the switch to dual graphics slots results in an improved layout. There are three expansion slots between the two graphics slots so you will have access to at least one PCI slot even if you use two double slot graphics cards. If you choose single slot graphics cards you will have two PCI slots and a PCI Express x4 slot available for use, along with the PCI Express x1 slot that is located above the primary graphics slot.
That's the most obvious difference between Blood Rage GTi and Flaming Blade but you'll spot other changes if you look closely. For instance, Blood Rage GTi comes with a Sonar X-Fi audio riser card that connects to a dedicated header on the board while Flaming Blade takes the more conventional route as it uses an on-board Realtek ALC888 chip. This makes the I/O panel look considerably more cluttered than the lean Blood Rage GTi as Foxconn has added six analogue mini jacks alongside the eSATA, eight USB ports, dual LAN, keyboard PS/2 port and the digital audio connection.
This is where we start to see detail changes between Blood Rage GTi and Flaming Blade that have no apparent reason but which may well affect your buying decision. In this case Blood Rage GTi has a coaxial S/PDIF connector on the I/O panel while Flaming Blade has an optical connector. We're not especially fussed whether a manufacturer offers optical or coaxial digital, although we'd be happy to see both types on every motherboard. What does concern us, though, is the lack of consistency implies that Foxconn isn't especially fussed which type of connector it uses just so long as it can slap a digital audio logo on the box.