The Board - P45R2000-WiFi
Now we start on the first board. The P45R2000-WiFi is built on a full sized 24x30cm ATX motherboard layout coloured blue, similar to that of the GIGABYTE series of boards, just not quite as deep in colour. First off, the placement of the connectors and unfortunately this board has a major flaw.
The 24-pin power connector is located on the left hand side of the board, below the CPU and behind the stereo audio ports. Coming from an enthusiast background, where this board is aimed towards, this means that the large ATX power cable needs to be routed over and around the CPU heatsink area; not good guys, not good at all.
The 4/8 pin power connector luckily is placed in the normal spot behind the PS/2 ports, keeping it up and away from the CPU area. The main reason that this board doesn't have the ATX power connector behind the memory slots is because it has two extra slots. That's right, this board has a total of six memory slots. There are a total of four DDR3 memory slots and two DDR2 memory slots. This is a combo board.
One of the things that was a bit annoying with this board is the way eSATA is configured. If you want to use the eSATA ports, you need to bridge the orange SATA ports at the bottom of the board with the SATA ports behind the PS/2 ports.
The CPU area of the ASRock P45R2000-WiFi is extremely clean; there are no high rise components stopping the installation of a large aftermarket heatsink. For the power supply to the CPU, there's a solid state 4 phase voltage regulation system. This is enough for the 45nm dual core when overclocking, but quad core processors may struggle.
On the rear I/O ports, we get a pretty good layout here. Digital audio is handled through either a Toslink S/PDIF or RCA S/PDIF port, so it's good to see both are included. The two eSATA ports are not functional unless you connect two of the internal SATA ports to the bridge ports behind the PS2 ports.
Moving to the expansion slots, we have quite a good arrangement. First off, we have two PCI Express x16 slots; one blue and one green. In between the two PCI Express x16 slots is an old school paddle card that we are used to seeing on older nForce 4 chipset boards. This card is used to set the PCI Express bandwidth between the two x16 slots. In its default configuration, all 16 lanes are set to the green slot while the blue slot is inactive. If you swap it around, you split the 16 lanes between the two slots so that both get eight lanes each. Two PCI Express x1 slots running off the ICH10R Southbridge make up the last of the PCI-E slots and three PCI slots are the expansion possibilities for legacy devices.
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