There’s a bracket in the package with two USB ports on a green connector and one mini Firewire with a yellow connector. However, the headers on the motherboard are coloured red for USB and blue for Firewire, which doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The area around the CPU socket is very tidy thanks to the use of solid capacitors and the revised power regulation hardware that is becoming commonplace on LGA775 motherboards. It’s a welcome step but it’s not exclusive to Foxconn and neither is the passive cooling system that links the Southbridge, Northbridge and six-phase power regulation hardware. During our testing the passive cooler on the Northbridge maintained a constant temperature of 43 degrees, while the Southbridge was slightly cooler at 40 degrees.
Should you feel the need, the package includes a tiny clip-on cooler that sits on the passive system but you’d do far better to install a large, slow, quiet case fan to do the job. The package also includes six SATA cables and power adapters as well as a metal dogtag on a chain with a Quantum Force logo. Nice.
The layout of the Mars is good with plenty of space around the various connectors and slots. You’ve got easy access to the ATX power connectors, the front panel headers are colour coded and there are three micro buttons for power, reset and clear CMOS.
But the thing that sets the Mars apart from the competition, according to Foxconn, is the potential for overclocking that is offered by the Gladiator Bios. You’ve got the choice of manual or auto overclocking so we started with the auto feature, which goes up in five per cent steps. We went for +15 percent and our Core 2 Duo E6750 duly ran at 3.06GHz. We expected nothing less as this processor has run at 3.52GHz on standard voltages with the same 2GB of PC2-9200 OCZ Reaper memory, 150GB Raptor hard drive and Sapphire X1950 GT graphics card.
Once we’d got that under our belt we went for the manual settings, which is where the Gladiator Bios is supposed to come into its own. We started with standard voltages and found that the Mars wouldn’t boot at 440MHz so we dropped to 420MHz which worked fine. This was merely the overture before we rolled out the big guns as the Gladiator Bios offers all of the usual memory timings and clock speeds as well as an unprecedented list of voltage controls that head up to dizzying heights. The Bios also includes a CPU voltage multiplier, which a feature we haven’t seen before and which seems both confusing and unnecessary.
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