January of 2008 was when we first heard of AMD's new SB750 Southbridge. Details about this new Southbridge were scarce and we wondered what were its new features. Now, Foxconn is one of the first manufacturers in the world to bring us a motherboard using this new SB750 Southbridge - the A79A-S.
Paired with AMD's 790FX chipset, the A79A-S is also Foxconn's first AMD motherboard to be featured in their high-performance Digital Life line-up. And as you would expect, Foxconn's Digital Life line-up of motherboards are targeted specially at users seeking the best performance and multi-media experience.
On the performance-end, users would be happy to know that the A79A-S is as tricked out as motherboards come. CrossFire X support for up to 4 ATI graphics cards, dual Gigabit LAN ports, and an abundance of connectors and ports (12 USB ports, two FireWire 400, two eSATA) are all standard on the A79A-S.
For overclockers, the A79A-S comes with Foxconn's proprietary Windows-based overclocking utility, FoxOne, which allows newbie overclockers to adjust their motherboard settings without venturing into the more complex BIOS environment.
Since the SB750 Southbridge was designed specially for overclockers, now is probably a good time to mention talk about it. One of the key features of the SB750 is the incorporation of something called Advance Clock Calibration (ACC), which is a feature that works together with AMD's Overdrive to give overclockers more headroom with AMD Phenom chips - up to 200MHz or more in some cases. To add on, the new Southbridge will also support RAID 5, something that was missing from its predecessor, the SB600. Other features include more SATA 3Gbps ports (two more for a total of six) and USB 2.0 support for up to 12 ports (an increase from 10 ports). There's also an SB700 Southbridge model that has identical features to the SB750, sans the RAID 5 support.
On the other hand, multi-media enthusiasts will glad that Foxconn has included all the usual audio ports you would expect to find in a high-end motherboard. Furthermore, the A79A-S is DTS and Dolby certified, so rest assured you'll be getting the greatest in audio quality.
Features aside, let us now take a look at the layout of the board. As compared to Gigabyte's GA-EP45T-EXTREME , which we previewed just recently, the first thing we noticed was that the labeling of components and connectors on the A79A-S wasn't very prominent. However, this should only pose a problem for those building their own rigs for the first time. Veterans should be able to figure it out quite easily.
Taking a close look at the board, it is also evident that Foxconn built the A79A-S with overclockers in mind, because the on/off and CMOS reset buttons are both conveniently located near the LED debug readout.
Another feature of the A79A-S is its use of 100% solid capacitors. Foxconn claims these solid capacitors are up to six times better at withstanding high temperatures than standard electrolytic ones. And complementing it are Ferrite Choke design inductors that hold energy better at a higher frequency than traditional iron cores, resulting in less power loss, and more stability/performance.
All things considered, our first impressions of the A79A-S are good, but given the poor performance from AMD processors of late, the A79A-S seems destined to be one that is only for diehard AMD fanboys.