Wielding Foxconn's Flaming Blade (Intel X58)


Wielding the Flaming Blade

Wielding the Flaming Blade

One thing we noticed about this Foxconn is its relative lack of circuitry clutter, for lack of a better word. Unlike some X58 motherboards, the Flaming Blade's black PCB does not have as many onboard components or motherboard traces. This perhaps could be attributed to the more modest features found on this board.

For instance, whereas most X58 motherboards have gone with six DDR3 DIMM slots, the Flaming Blade only has half that with three. Of all the X58 boards that we have reviewed, only the Intel reference board came with three. Obviously, this will save a bit of cost, complexity and PCB space for Foxconn.

We were rather surprised to find only three DDR3 DIMM slots since most boards that we have seen come with six.

Next, multi-GPU setups are limited to two graphics cards for the Flaming Blade. The lesser GTI version of the Flaming Blade can only do CrossFireX, which is standard for all Intel X58 motherboards. SLI support meanwhile requires an additional cost that not all vendors may wish to pay. While you'll find both multi-GPU technologies supported on this board, the two PCIe x 16 slots mean dual graphics is the best you'll get. Of course, that is more than sufficient for a majority of users.

The expansion slots on the Flaming Blade have a balance of PCI and PCIe, though there are only two PCIe x16 slots for two-way SLI or CrossFireX setups.

Besides those reduced features, Foxconn has not made too many changes to the core X58 chipset functionality. The Flaming Blade is outfitted with Intel's ICH10R Southbridge for six SATA ports and RAID functionality. Foxconn has supplemented this with the usual JMicron controller chip for IDE support and two extra eSATA ports at the back panel. These SATA ports are aligned upwards, which is usually not ideal. Fortunately, we don't see that hindering any expansion cards in this case so it's not an issue.

On the other hand, there is no FireWire support, but we feel that the eSATA more than makes up for that. Even the aging floppy drive support is retained. Basic HD audio is provided by another familiar name, Realtek, whose ALC888 chip is found onboard. Optical S/PDIF is also present for those who require such a connector. There are even dual Gigabit LAN controllers which makes this board quite well equipped for a more mainstream board.

A standard complement of six SATA ports from the ICH10R Southbridge. The additional IDE port comes from the JMicron JMB363 controller, which also happens to add the two eSATA ports at the rear.

Other standard features that we find on modern, quality motherboards, like solid capacitors and a multi-phase power management system are present. For the Flaming Blade, you'll find a 6-phase system, with ample space near the CPU socket.

Foxconn uses a 6-phase power management system for the Flaming Blade, supplemented by the now-standard ferrite chokes and solid capacitors.

Finally, Foxconn has a Force Reset feature that apparently claims to reboot the system more cleanly, by forcing your memory, CPU and chipset to run through the hardware checks and timings again so as to ensure that any recently overclocked settings are more likely to pass muster during the reboot process. We tested it during our overclocking session and couldn't really tell if it does have a significant impact on the overclocking success.

The Force Reset button is claimed by Foxconn to help reduce the occurrence of failed reboots after saving an overclocked setting in the BIOS. The other blue jumpers shown here include one to clear the CMOS and the other to enable the clear CMOS button at the back panel.

An LED status indicator and onboard power and reset switches.

Overall, we have no problems with its layout and given how Foxconn has reduced some of the features, there shouldn't be any. The single PCIe x1 slot does look a bit close to the chipset heatsink but since we can't think of any heavy duty expansion cards for such a slot, it doesn't matter much. However, we found only three fan connectors onboard, including the CPU fan, so enthusiasts hoping to load on the fans may wish to take note of that.