Features - A look at the Motherboards
At first glance you will see just how much effort DFI have gone to in giving you a couple of visually stunning and unique looking motherboards. Both of these motherboards follow a bright orange theme. When paired up with an ultra violet cold cathode these areas of the motherboard are all UV reactive, which produces a magnificent result inside a case that has a window. The PCB itself is smartly done in a dark brown color of which effectively helps to make the UV reactive areas stand out even more. A wonderful touch DFI!
Now, of course there are also many of you that couldn't care less about the aesthetics of a motherboard, seeing as a lot of people can't be bothered with a side window and all the tidying/prettying up involved with it. However motherboard layout, features, and performance is where it's at right? Right! On with the show then!
- Motherboard Layout
Looking at both motherboards, there are only slight differences in the way both laid out with the main reason being down to minor variations in the features available between the two. We'll start with the Intel 865PE.
First impressions on the 865PE are very strong. Viewing the motherboard as though placed upright inside a case, the 20pin ATX connector is nicely sitting out of the way to the far top right hand side. You'll find the two PATA ports along with the floppy port here too, this is an idea I am particularly fond of because you don't have the problem of trying to stretch those cables up to the higher bays on your full tower case, plus it also eliminates any chunky cables running across the motherboard which would have adversely affected cooling and tidiness. The 12v Aux Connector is over to the left of the rather large passive heatsink of which is cooling the Northbridge. The motherboards four DIMM slots are smartly color coded to make it easier in firing up Dual Channel mode operation. Down at the bottom left corner you'll find two SATA RAID ports controlled by the Silicon Image 3112A controller, and another two just above them of which are natively controlled by the ICH5R Southbridge from Intel.
Just above the CMOS battery you'll notice two buttons - one being for POWER and the other for RESET. The "EZ ON/EZ TOUCH" (as DFI have called it) is a very convenient implementation by DFI as it saves the hassle of having to connect a case button to the motherboard in order to power it up. It's particularly handy for us testers too. In terms of fitting very long and beefy AGP cards, there's no hassles here as the motherboard uses a 1/5 AGP/PCI configuration which means there's more room for the AGP slot to go a notch lower and quite easily clear the bottom of the DIMM slots. All in all, this motherboard has evidently had plenty of thought put into it. Thumbs up here!
Now we'll see if DFI have managed to carry this excellent layout through to its big brother, the Pro 875B.
This motherboards layout thankfully does not differ all that much to the 865PE. So of course, only the noteworthy differences will be mentioned. The 12v Aux connector has been placed in between the DIMM slots and the CPU cooling bracket. I prefer this placement as it's easier to keep the cable out of the way of the CPU's HSF. There is no Silicon Image SATA controller on this motherboard, so only two SATA ports are available via the ICH5R Southbridge. However, the implementation of Highpoint's 372N PATA RAID controller is resident on this motherboard. These two ports are located at the bottom right along with the floppy port. So to tie that in with the information on the 865PE, I am once again very pleased with the design.
That wraps up the physical layout of these motherboards, now to take a closer look at the distinguished differences between each of them in terms of features.
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