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Foxconn P67A-S

P67 Motherboard Roundup: Nine $150-200 Boards
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OEM and ODM sales have traditionally been Foxconn’s core strength. Putting aside last year’s rumors that the company might pull out of the retail-branded business, it’s not surprising to see its focus shift from the high-margin enthusiast market to the high-volume mainstream. The only real surprise here is that Foxconn chose to submit the P67A-S for today’s $150+ roundup, rather than wait for the sub-$150 comparison.

One might believe that the P67A-S is a shot at the heart of Biostar’s market—the lean and mean overclocking machine—in which a $150 board with a high-end voltage regulator and only a few added features would be well-received. After all, the P67A-S has only one add-in drive controller (for eSATA), few legacy interfaces, no “nearly useless” four-lane tertiary graphics card slot, and USB 3.0 only on the rear panel. Yet, a quick look from above tells a different story.

Triple-slot graphics card spacing and automatic pathway switching could make the P67A-S a great low-cost starting point for a CrossFire build, since many gamers prefer to exhaust the bulk of their budgets on graphics prowess. Those pathway switches adapt the board from a single 16-lane slot to two eight-lane slots whenever a second card is detected.

We were a little surprised to see a 40-pin Ultra ATA interface, since most compatible drives are long-since deceased. Carried over from Foxconn’s overclocking days are a two-digit Port 80 diagnostics display and a full row of voltage detection pins along the P67A-S’ front edge, while onboard power and reset buttons ease bench testing exhibitions. On the other hand, we doubt that any serious overclocker will put much faith in the capabilities of its tiny four-phase CPU voltage regulator.

Anyone who really needs the Ultra ATA interface for an old drive will be pleased to find the connector located above the board’s center line, allowing easy cable reach to the top external bay of most cases. Foxconn also slides its front-panel audio header around an inch forward of the traditional bottom-rear corner location to allow slightly better cable reach, though the coolers of oversized graphics cards could block access to the P67A-S’ outward-facing SATA 6Gb/s connectors.

Two SATA cables and an I/O shield comprise the P67A-S’ installation kit. This suggests that Foxconn’s submission for a $150+ roundup is likely focusing on in-store MSRP, rather than Web pricing.

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