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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [08.20.06]
Manufactured by: Foxconn


Foxconn have come a long way from their first retail motherboards we started reviewing in 2004. Back then, you would get a blue motherboard with orange and pink connectors, an awful layout, and most usual components like USB brackets and SATA cables were missing. Overclocking was always horrendous, and 'user friendly' was never in Foxconn's dictionary. However, their boards were always stable, and performance was top-notch. And the price was always right.

Now that they have put a little more emphasis on pleasing enthusiasts, I have to say I am very impressed with their latest offering based on the NVIDIA 590 SLI chipset. Although the name could be better (I'll say it again to remind you; this board is called the C51XEM2AA-8EKRS2H), overclocking performance was great, and having nearly full access to the BIOS from within Windows, via the latest version of nTune, is excellent.

However, the C51XEM2AA-8EKRS2H is not without its quirks. It completely lacks any sort of fan speed control. The layout, while an improvement over previous Foxconn boards, could still use some improvement. There is no excuse now, not to have a colour-labeled front panel header. This has been a pet peeve of mine since I started building computers 'back in the day'. Most manufacturers have started doing this, but Foxconn is being left behind. Secondly with regards to layout, the 8 pin 12v Aux connector is awkwardly placed right between the top PCI-E header and the CPU. Also, the active cooler on the chipset is almost guaranteed to wear down in time, and will eventually make an annoying, high-pitched whiny noise. We've seen this happen with nearly every single small chipset and video card cooler we've come across. So far, only DFI have used a higher quality fan on their chipset coolers.

Price-wise, the C51 can be found for just under $200. Compared to the most popular 590 SLI board (Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe), that's about $15-20 lower. $15 might not be much when looking at a $200 motherboard, but in my opinion, the Foxconn C51XEM2AA-8EKRS2H would make a great choice regardless.

Note that if you're not planning to use SLI, you can pick up a board based on the 570 Ultra chipset. As you saw with this review, performance was on par. Boards based on that chipset are in the $100 range.

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  • One of the lowest priced 590 SLI boards you'll find
  • Good performance, solid stability
  • Good layout overall
  • Good overclocking performance
  • Tons of tweaking options in the BIOS
  • BIOS access from within Windows
  • Supports full nTune features

  • No fan speed controls
  • Uses an active cooler on the chipset
  • No colour-coded front panel header
  • Awkward placement of the 8-pin 12V AUX header