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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [09.16.06]
Manufactured by: Foxconn


I have mixed feelings overall about the Foxconn P9657AA-8EKRS2H. On one hand, I expect it to retail lower than nearly every other P965 motherboard out there. That being said, it's probably not going to be that much cheaper than the last P965 board we looked at from Gigabyte, which had a more well-rounded package overall, with some added features in the BIOS and software. On top of that, Gigabyte has a 945P based board that also supports Core 2 Duo and Extreme that performs just as well as this one, and is just as comprehensive a package (if not moreso) than this one. That board sells for under $100.

Nothing really stood out in a negative way, at least in terms of show-stopping problems. Performance was on par with everything else, except memory bandwidth was a bit lower than expected. Layout for the most part is very well thought out, with only a few quirks to talk about (like the upside-down PATA controller, and only having 4 USB ports on the rear panel). Probably the most annoying thing was the completely anemic system bundle, which included absolutely NO USB headers or FireWire headers. And although the board supports up to 6 SATA drives, you only get one cable in the box. This is something Gigabyte didn't do with their budget boards.

Overclocking isn't the most important thing when we look at a budget motherboard, so Foxconn gets off the hook a bit for not including CPU multiplier adjustment in the BIOS (and it will very likely be added in a future BIOS revision anyway). Plenty of voltage options are given, and it did go as high as the other two budget Core 2 Duo motherboards we've looked at so far (350 MHz FSB).

Overall, if you are building an Allendale-based Core 2 Duo system, you're probably not planning on spending much more than $100-120 on your motherboard. If that's the case, Gigabyte has 2 solutions that are slightly better than this one. However you won't be making a huge mistake by choosing the Foxconn P9657AA-8EKRS2H. It just doesn't have anything that really makes it stand out compared to other boards in its price range. Just make sure you have plenty of USB headers and SATA cables on hand before building a system with it ;)

If it's a dollar over $120 though, I don't think I would recommend it. Go with the Gigabyte P965-DS3, which is available for under $130 at most stores. (and currently $117 at

Discuss this article in the forum!

  • ICH8-R allows 6 SATA drives and plenty of RAID goodness
  • Overclocks as well as other budget boards we've tested
  • Passively cooled all-around

  • Limited bundle - no USB headers is inexcusable!
  • Minor quirks and complaints, nothing big, but they add up