Unfortunately EPoX has made a few design mistakes from an enthusiast point of view.
The board uses the full ATX size limit of 30x25cm; EPoX went with a dark brown/black PCB in the colour department. The bad points in the layout come in for form of the power connector placement and the FDD port. EPoX have been known to place their 20/24 pin power connectors between the Northbridge and the I/O ports. This location is definitely not the place to put them, as it requires you to route the large cable around and over the CPU heatsink - they have again make the same mistake here.
The 4/8 pin combo power connector is located between the PS2 ports and the voltage regulators, well out of the way of obstructing vital airflow. The FDD port on the other hand is right at the bottom of the board, another pet hate of ours for this ports placement.
The CPU area is well clear of any large capacitors that could interfere with the installation of large aftermarket heatsinks. As far as power requirements are concerned, the CPU gets its power from a 4 phase voltage regulation system.
The rear I/O ports give you 2 PS2 ports, 1 Serial and 1 Parallel port which ends the legacy port section. For the Audio side there are 6 3.5mm stereo audio ports along with 2 SPDIF ports, 1 RCA and 1 Toslink. We've also got a couple RJ45 LAN ports for the dual gigabit Ethernet and 4 USB ports that make the I/O ports up.
EPoX has done a good job on the expansion slot side of the equation. Being based on nVidia's nForce 590 SLI chipset, there are a total of 32 PCI Express lanes dedicated to graphics alone. On the board there are a couple of PCI Express x16 slots, one red and one yellow. The red slot is connected to the 590SLI SPP Northbridge. The Northbridge itself is simply a PCI Express to Hyper Transport bridge chip; this is all this chip was designed for. The yellow PCI Express x16 slot is connected to the MCP590 Southbridge chip which also contains the remaining PCI Express lanes, SATA ports, sound system and the extra features of the platform.
Next there are 2 PCI Express x1 slots that sit between the 2 PCI Express x16 slots for any other PCI Express devices such as the new Creative Audigy X-Fi PCI-E and TV Tuners that are now starting to show up on the market. Lastly there are 2 red PCI slots for legacy cards like modem as well as the older sound cards.
Now down to the last of the board we have the extra features. While 6 SATA ports are enough these days for most people, EPoX has added in an extra 2 SATA ports and an extra PATA port though the JMicron PCI Express controller chip.
One thing that impressed us was the cooler that was on the Southbridge chipset. While it might seem a little over the top, the Southbridge just get hot and why not use something fancy that looks good while doing the job of cooling. It's not completely silent which is a shame considering many companies have now moved to heat pipe cooling solutions but it's not by any means loud, either.
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