The Motherboard in all its glory
Gigabyte has made a monster of a motherboard and has used all of the 30x30cm dimensions that the ATX specification allows.
Placement of the primary connectors is a mixed bag - quite a lot of good has come up with only a couple of sour points. The 24-pin ATX power connector along with the FDD connectors are located behind the colour coded DDR-2 memory slots on the right of the board in mid point. The 4/8-pin ATX-EPS power plug is placed right behind the LPT port, while this is better than previous places Gigabyte has located this port, it would be better near the ATX power plug. The IDE port is located at the bottom right of the board near the SATA-II ports. This is because it is not controlled by the Southbridge but more on this later.
Gigabyte has done a fantastic job on power regulation and cooling of the additional components of the motherboard itself. First off on power distribution and regulation, Gigabyte has put in a Quad 3 phase voltage system in parallel - that's 12 phases in total. To keep this sort of extreme voltage system cool, Gigabyte has put an amazing cooling system that covers the 12 phases of Mosfets, Northbridge and Southbridge with heatpipes routed through the board's circuits - not only is it effective but silent at the same time.
Gigabyte also uses a new feature called "Crazy Cool". On the back of the motherboard under the CPU socket area is a cooling device which helps keep the reserve side of the motherboard at lower temperatures. This is just yet another feature Gigabyte has added to aid in higher overclocking.
The rear I/O ports are a mixed bag of goodies. First off the two PS/2 ports colour coded purple for keyboard and green for mouse, as always. Next are two SPDIF ports, one is an RCA port and the other a Toslink (optical) port. Next to this is a single Serial port but didn't they go the way of the dodo ages ago? Above the SPDIF ports and the Serial port is a single Parallel port for older printers. Next to them are two USB towers with two ports per tower. On to top of the closest tower to the Parallel port is a single Firewire port. On the USB tower furthers from the parallel port is a RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet. Lastly are 6 colour coded Stereo Audio jacks for 7.1 channel audio output through the Intel High Definition audio.