|All Intel LGA775 processors, including Core 2 Duo/Extreme
Support for all upcoming 1066MHz FSB 'Kentsfield' quad-core processors
|4 DIMMs, DDR2, 533/667/800, 8GiB max
|2 x PCI Express Graphics 16X
Supports ATI CrossFire (8x per slot)
|2 x PCIe 1x; i975X
|2 slots, PCI2.2
|1 x ATA/100 (JMicron JMB363), 1 x ATA/133 (ICH7R)
|4 ports SATA2/300 AHCI (ICH7R)
1 ports SATA2/300 AHCI (1 eSATA) ) (JMicron JMB363), PCIe on i975X
|0/1/0+1/5/JBOD (ICH7R, Intel Matrix Storage)
|2 x 10/100/1000 (Marvell, PCIe on ICH7R)
|Realtek AudioMAX HD 7.1
HD Audio, 8-channel, (Realtek ALC882M)
|Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A, FireWire 400, 2 ports
|8 ports, USB2.0, ICH7R
DiscussionThe 975X7AB looks pretty standard on paper, and scarcely different from its predecessor, although it has a couple fewer SATA2/300 ports than some of its competitors, such as Abit's AW9D Max. On the plus side, the inclusion of a pair of PCI slots will be handy in certain circumstances, for example if you want to upgrade the audio to Creative Labs X-Fi, and still have an extra slot spare for a TV tuner. It also offers two ATA connectors, just in case you still have an ATA hard disk knocking around. Lots of boards are leaving you with just one ATA, assuming you will only be using this for the optical drive. However, the second channel is connected to the JMicron JMB363 chipset, and you can't boot from an optical drive connected to this port.
Other than that, this looks like your average i975X CrossFire-capable board, with a pair of PCI Express 16x-sized slots which drop down to 8x apiece when both are in use, plus support for up to 8GiB of DDR2-800 memory. The biggest change from the predecessor is support for Core 2 Duo, as we noted in the introduction. The SouthBridge is the latest ICH7R, with RAID support and Intel Matrix Storage options. The single eSATA port is starting to be a fairly common appearance these days, and this is connected to the JMicron chipset. You may not find it useful now, but it could be in the future, if external SATA hard disks become more commonplace. The onboard ALC882M audio is also fully featured, with Dolby Digital Live support for 5.1 positional audio via a single digital cable, and in addition it also offers Dolby Digital EX and Dolby Pro Logic IIx support.
Overall, the features are reasonable, so reasonable marks thus far for the Foxconn.