Foxconn Digital Life ELA Review


Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £202.69

Foxconn separates its high end motherboards into the Quantum Force range for the enthusiast overclocker, which is clear enough, but the Digital Life range is a different proposition altogether.

For starters there’s the name Digital Life which is reasonable enough except that it appears on the motherboard packaging as ‘DigitaLife’ all closed up with a capital L in the middle of the word. We hate that.

Then there’s the ELA name of this particular model. This is a P45 motherboard that includes Dolby Digital DTS audio and is part of a Digital Life range, so just what might ELA mean? Electronic Living Area? Enhanced Lifestyle Arts? Nope it’s short-hand for Eaglelake which was Intel’s development name for the P45 chipset. This is, quite literally, the motherboard that Foxconn forgot to name. Weird or what?

The idea is that a Digital Life motherboard will suit the mainstream PC user who wants to watch TV and movies, listen to music and play games although it might not necessarily overclock especially well. That’s a broad target market so Foxconn has made sure to include a range of features that will appeal to almost every PC builder starting with three PCI Express graphics slots. The information on this is limited but we know that P45 supports 16 lanes of PCIe 2.0 for the primary slot or 8+8 for CrossFire so there’s no way that Foxconn’s reference to three PCI Express x16 slots is the full story.

Mechanically they are PCIe x16 but the P45 chipset doesn’t support that sort of bandwidth. There’s a mysterious chip under a passive heatsink between the primary and secondary graphics slots. I’m going to speculate that this is a PCI Express controller that ensures that the third graphics slot gets a share of the second slot’s bandwidth in the unlikely event that you populate all three slots.

The other goodies can be found on the I/O panel. There are six USB 2.0 ports in three widely spaced pairs, two eSATA ports, one PS/2 port, Gigabit LAN, a mini Firewire port and a regular six pin Firewire. The star of the show is the integrated audio which is controlled by a Realtek ALC888SDD chip that packs in both DTS Connect and Dolby Digital Live with the six mini jacks, optical and coaxial digital outputs.

That’s clear enough but Foxconn also states that the ELA can use Dual Digital Audio technology to split two different sound sources from your PC, which seems like an interesting idea. Towards the end of the year Foxconn tells us it will introduce an amplifier card which will allow a Digital Life motherboard to drive proper speakers with up to 100W of audio power.

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