Foxconn Mars Reviewccokeman -
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"Unleash the Power" is the slogan on the front panel of the MARS packaging. Did the MARS unleash the power? More yes than no. In many of the benchmarks that we use, the board finished either first or a strong second. Paired against a supposedly better chipset the MARS fared quite well. The one area that the MARS fell down was in the SiSoft Sandra testing. The MARS scored well in the Sandra memory bandwidth benchmarks finishing on top in both the bandwidth and memory latency benchmarks. In PCMark Vantage, Cinebench and many of the gaming benchmarks the MARS came out on top of the X38 chipset boards.
One area that I was especially impressed with was the ease with which a failed overclock recovered. I found myself pushing so far out of bounds that the hardware had no chance of booting. Boot to a few warning beeps, a shut down and presto, a perfect boot at the default processor and memory settings. Not once did it fail to recover. That's huge in my book. Speaking of overclocking, I was able to push the FSB threshold 3 MHz higher than my previous best with my trusty Q6600. The other side of that is that in raw processor speed, I was able to achieve 3760MHz, which is 160MHz higher than I had been able to get stable before working with the MARS. The Gladiator BIOS is easy to navigate through with the extreme voltage limits clearly marked. As you reach a level that is considered dangerous, the color of the measurement changes from white to red to let you know you are in the high end of the voltage range. While pushing the voltages, I felt the Northbridge heatsink to see if it indeed was getting warm with the voltage put to it. The cooling solution was warm but not hot to the touch and easily kept the components it is responsible for cooling within limits. The one knock on the design of the motherboard is how close the capacitors are to the CPU socket. The Tuniq Tower I use in my testing literally rested upon the row of capacitors. Short term it may be all right, but it is definitely not a long term proposition.
All in all, the MARS experience was all that I had hoped it would be. With motherboard support from one of the world's premier overclockers on its support forums, tips and troubleshooting help are available quickly and come straight from the source. If you are looking for a high performance board, the MARS fits the bill. For a tad less than $200, the price/performance ratio is right on the money.
- Gladiator BIOS
- Motherboard cooling capacity
- Ease of overclocking
- Motherboard support from one of the world's best overclockers (through the MARS forums)
- Overclocking recovery
- Price/Performance point
- Capacitors close to the CPU socket may interfere with large cooling solutions