As we stated from the picture on the back of the board, XFX has done nothing unique to its board to distinguish it from the NVIDIA reference design. When compared to the ZOTAC board, it looks like a clone; this is because both come direct from NVIDIA's reference platform; nothing more, nothing less. The board is produced on a 6-layer full ATX PCB measuring 24x30cm.
The placement of the power and onboard connectors corresponds to the reference design. The 24-pin power connector along with the IDE port are both located at the top right hand edge behind the four DDR3 memory slots. The 4/8 pin power connector is located between the CPU Mosfets and the PS/2 port header at the top left hand corner of the board.
Like all of the reference 790i boards, the XFX comes equipped with a 6-phase voltage regulation system. The heat-pipe assembly that cools the Mosfets, SPP and MCP does make it a little tight around the CPU area for larger aftermarket coolers, but not impossible. We managed to get our OCZ Vanquisher installed and removed; it did take a bit of extra fiddling around, but it is possible.
At the back of the board, the I/O ports are arranged how NVIDIA specifies its reference boards, including a single eSATA port. Thank god NVIDIA is supporting eSATA, even on its reference boards.
Last on the agenda are the expansion possibilities this board offers. First off, there are three PCI Express x16 slots coloured green. The top and middle slots run on the SPP and are PCI-E 2.0 compliant. The bottom slot is run off the 790i MCP and is only PCI-E 1.1 spec'd. However, all three slots are full speed rated at x16.
Two PCI Express x1 slots sit above and below the first PCI Express x16 slot. However, if you plan to use an SLI setup or even some of the dual slot cards, the PCI-E slot between the top and middle PCI-E x16 slots becomes useless.
Lastly, we have two PCI legacy slots. In the way of additional controllers, the board is fitted with a Marvell PCI Express SATA controller running the red SATA port near the rear I/O ports as well as the eSATA port and a Texas Instruments PCI controller giving the board its FireWire support.
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