Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI £120

15th Dec 2010 | 10:27

Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI

Is it worth using a simple motherboard for high-end processors?

TechRadar rating:

3.5 stars

Like:

No-nonsense board; good performance; detailed BIOS

Dislike:

SATA port position; poor Southbridge choice

Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI review: Overview

Whether it's because of Intel's mighty six-core Core i7-980X processor or USB 3.0 or SATA 6Gbps technology or a combination of all or any of the three, for what ever reason, Intel's high-end X58 chipset is having a real surge at the moment.

In fact there seem to be more motherboards in the market using the chipset and the accompanying LGA1366 socket than there were when it was first announced a couple of years ago. But adding the latest technologies to an already fairly costly chip often increases the board cost to eye-watering levels.

What if you don't want all the latest bells and whistles and just want a stable X58 platform with a reasonable price tag? Foxconn's FlamingBlade GTI might be the answer you're looking for.

Compared to some X58 boards in the market, the FlamingBlade GTI may appear to be a bit basic, with just two PCI-E graphics slots, three memory slots and no RAID support, but sometimes basic isn't a bad thing, especially for motherboards.

After all, why pay the Earth for a board that's crammed full of features you're never going to use?

Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI review: Specifications

To keep the cost of the FlamingBlade GTI down to a reasonable level, Foxconn has gone back basics, so instead of the R (RAID) version of the ICH10 Southbridge that's normally associated with the X58, the FlamingBlade makes do with the standard non-RAID version.

Similarly, instead of the usual six DIMM slots – the X58 supports triple channel memory – there are only three, supporting up to 12GB of DDR3 1066/1333/1600/1800/ 2000MHz, the last three speeds through overclocking.

You won't find any USB 3.0 or SATA 6Gbps ports on the FlamingBlade GTI, but there are six SATA 3Gbps ports and the board supports up to 12 USB 2.0 ports via eight ports on the rear I/O panel with two headers on the board supporting the other four.

There's also a (rarely seen these days) ATA port, edge mounted at ninety degrees sitting just under the SATA ports.

Two PCI-E graphics slots are provided, but these only provide support for CrossFire setups only – no SLI support here. The two slots are well spaced to allow for cards with large cooling solutions to be fitted.

To help keep costs down, the board has a six-phase power design using standard components in the power circuitry; there are no military-class components on this board. The MOSFETS, along with the North and Southbridges, are passively cooled.

Sitting under the ATA port is a pair of LED readouts for the BIOS debugs, but unless you already know what the codes mean, you're going to have to look them up since they don't feature in the manual, which is a bit of a pain.

The rear I/O panel contains a PS/2 port, six audio ports for the integrated eight channel audio, single LAN and S/PDIF ports and eight USB2.0 ports.

Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI review: Benchmarks

CPU Rendering performance

Cinebench R10:Seconds – quicker is better
Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI: 53
Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: 54

Cinebench R11 Index
Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI: 4.82
Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: 4.77

Video encoding

X264 v3 (frames per second)

Pass1 (avr 4 runs)
Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI: 68.40
Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: 66.252

Pass2 (avr 4 runs)
Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI: 26.37
Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: 25.91

X264 v2 (fps)

Pass1 (avr 4 runs)
Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI: 75.180
Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: 72.495

Pass2 (avr 4 runs)
Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI: 27.000
Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: 26.507

Graphics (HD5830 single and Crossfire)

Far Cry 2 (small ranch map, 4xFSAA, Ultra settings, avr fps)

Single card:
1680 x 1050: 64.99
1920 x 1200: 41.99

CrossFire:
1680 x 1050: 89.41
1920 x 1200: 76.22

DiRT2 (4xFSAA, Ultra settings)

Single card:
1680 x 1050: 64.30
1920 x 1200: 56.58

CrossFire:
1680 x 1050: 113.93
1920 x 1200: 99.83

Just Cause 2 (Dark Tower benchmark, 4xFSAA, 8xAscF)

Single card:
1680 x 1050: 46.74
1920 x 1200: 40.12

Crossfire:
1680 x 1050: 59.30
1920 x 1200: 50.68

Overclocking – Intel 920 overclocked to 3.6GHz

CPU Rendering performance

Cinebench R10: Seconds – quicker is better
Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI: 42
Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: 42

Cinebench R11 Index
Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI: 6.07
Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: 6.08

Video Encoding

X264 v3 (fps)

Pass1 (avr 4 runs)
Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI: 85.47
Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: 84.17

Pass2 (avr 4 runs)
Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI: 33.05
Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: 32.89

X264 v2 (fps)

Pass1 (avr 4 runs)
Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI: 93.872
Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: 92.790

Pass2 (avr 4 runs)
Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI: 31.027
Gigabyte X58A-UD3R: 30.160

Lab report

The FlamingBlade GTI's BIOS made it very easy to overclock, with as many tweaks and adjustments to various bits of motherboard hardware as you'd find on a board costing twice as much.

The fact that we could only get the Intel 920 we used to run at 3.6GHz is more the fickle nature of that particular chip rather than a limitation of the board.

Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI review: Verdict

Foxconn flamingblade gti

The FlamingBlade GTI is a good-looking board built on a black PCB with black and red used for the major ports and slots. It's also a well laid-out board, and if you're used to the crammed full of features high-end X58 boards, the amount of space around the components might come as a bit of a shock.

However, you may still run into a problem with the SATA ports. All the ports are vertically mounted on the PCB, and the positioning of the last pair may prove a little troublesome if you intend to use an extra-long graphics card in the top PCI-E slot and a lot of disk drives, because they sit a fraction above the top graphics slot.

The provision of only three memory slots isn't a problem, the cost of filling these up with a triple kit of memory isn't going to break the bank these days, and the 12GB maximum memory support is going to be enough for the vast majority of users anyway.

Let's face it, if you need six slots and 24GB of memory, you're probably talking about putting together a workstation, and this board lacks more than just memory support for that particular role in life.

While its understandable from a cost point of view, maybe the use of the standard ICH10 Southbridge rather than the R (RAID) supporting version is a cost cut to far, these days running a RAID setup is far more common a practice than in the past and it seems a strange idea when the board is equipped with so many SATA ports.

Despite the Foxconn aiming the FlamingBlade GTI at the lower end of the X58 market, it comes with fairly comprehensive BIOS with all the overclocking goodies sitting in the Quantum BIOS page.

These include a wide range of voltage adjustments for the CPU, memory and both bridges. There's even a section to store up to eight overclocked settings.

Performance wise the FlamingBlade GTI is pretty impressive, more than holding its own against the more feature rich boards like the Gigabyte X58A-UD3R for example. But where you may run into its limitations is when it comes to really pushing the overclocking side of things where its cost saving six-phase power design and standard components in the power circuitry become more of a hindrance than a help.

For example, we pushed the Northbridge voltage up, not by very much, and the Northbridge itself became too hot to touch. If you really want to push the board, some extra cooling is going to be essential.

We liked

Foxconn's FlamingBlade GTI is a very good example of a no-nonsense X58 board, well laid out with good performance and comes with a detailed BIOS, which is a nice surprise given its highly competitive price tag.

We disliked

The positioning of the SATA ports could cause a problem if you're using a long graphics card, it's a shame that they're not edge mounted, which would get them out of the way. Also the choice of the standard, non-RAID version of the Southbridge may be a cost saving too far.

Verdict

If the budget won't stretch very far but you want an X58 board and don't need all the bells and whistles or don't care about future proofing, then you need to add Foxconn's FlamingBlade GTI to the shopping list.

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