So far, we've been reviewing high-end, enthusiast motherboards based on the latest Intel P35 chipset. Recently however, we received a package from Foxconn that turned out to be a budget P35 motherboard that we felt was interesting enough not to be passed on. While we initially wanted to perform a full review on the Foxconn P35A, we understood that the board sent was an engineering sample with a very raw BIOS that wasn't ready for some serious benchmarking. Thus, we decided that it would be best to just give you, our readers an early preview of the Foxconn P35A.
Now, if you know your motherboard manufacturers, you'd know Foxconn's usual naming convention for their boards. For those in the dark, Foxconn motherboards have two parts to their name. The front part being its model number and the chipset it is running on. The second part is usually a string of numbers and letters, each denoting additional features available on the board, such as RAID. So, when something comes in as short as the P35A with no suffix, it's going to be a pretty basic motherboard.
True enough, the P35A is based on the P35 chipset paired with the vanilla ICH9 Southbridge, which lacks AHCI and RAID capabilities. As expected, the board is designed only for DDR2 memory support, which is a shame, since a hybrid DDR2/DDR3 design like the MSI Neo Combo would have greatly improved its upgrading options and lifespan.
Nevertheless, the P35A is still quite a surprising board for a Foxconn budget offering. It comes with dual PCIe x16 slots to support CrossFire multi-GPU configurations, which means the Foxconn P35A could become a hot item for anyone looking for CrossFire on the cheap. Do remember that the Intel P35 chipset is still a single GPU chipset and the two PCIe x16 slots operate on a fixed x16/x4 mode. Other than this, the P35A features also include S/PDIF output and eSATA as well, which gives it a well rounded feature set for a board of its class in addition to the full functions of the P35 chipset.