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.
I'm just missing benchmarks like SATA/USB speeds etc. Please Tom's get those numbers for us!
1. SLI "support". Do not understand why end-user has to pay for mythical SLI "sertification" (all latest Intel chips support SLI by definition) and a SLI bridge coming with the board (at least 75% of end users would never need one). The bridge should come with NVIDIA cards (same as with AMD ones). Also, in x8/x8 PCIe configuration nearly all NVIDIA cards (exept for low-end ones) will loose at least 12% productivity - with top cards that is about $100 spent for nothing (AMD cards would not see that difference). So, If those cards are coming as SLI-"sertified" they have to be, in the worst case, equipped by NVIDIA NF200 chip (though, I would not recommend to by cards with this PCIe v.1.1 bridge). As even NVIDIA GF110 cards really need less than 1GB/s bandwidth (all other NVIDIA and AMD - less than 0.8GB/s)and secondary cards in SLI/CrossFire use no more than 1/4 of that, a normal PCIe v.2.0 switch (costing less than thrown away with x8/x8 SLI money) will nicely support three "Graphics only" x16 slots, fully-functional x8 slot and will provide bandwidth enough to support one PCIe v.2.0 x4 (or 4 x x1) slot(s)/device(s).
2. Do not understand the author euphoria of mass use of Marvell "SATA 6G" chips. The PCIe x1 chip might not be "SATA 6G" by definision, as it woud newer be able to provide more than 470GB/s (which is far from the standard 600GB/s) - so, I'd recommend to denote tham as 3G+ or 6G-. As it is shown in the upper section, there is enough bandwidth for real 6G solution (PCIe x8 LSISAS 2008 or x4 LSISAS 2004). Yes, will be a bit more expensive, but do not see the reason to have a palliative solutions on $200+ mobos.