The board we were shipped didn't come with a retail box, so we skipped our usual look at the package. However, we did get the cables and extras which are standard for a Micro-ATX board, so there's nothing special to note here.
The board itself is based around a 6-layer Micro-ATX motherboard layout. Being so small, layout can be a problem. However, GIGABYTE has managed to keep things relatively neat and tidy and in a case the size of a micro-ATX where airflow is more so restricted, it's very important to keep it all neat and tidy.
The 24-pin power connector along with the single IDE port and FDD connector are located behind the four DDR2 memory slots that the board is equipped with on the right hand edge of the board. The 4-pin power connector is placed behind the PS/2 port towers on the top left of the board. This for any board is an optimal layout as it keeps all of the bulky cables well out of the way.
Five of the six SATA ports that are controlled by the SB700 chipset reside on the bottom right hand edge of the board, well away from any of the major components. While the SB700 supports six SATA ports, GIGABYTE has routed the last one off to a single eSATA port at the rear I/O; good idea GIGABYTE. Another interesting thing that GIGABYTE is now doing for all its boards is including a TPM or Trusted Platform Module connector. This allows for the use of TPM to hardware encode the contents of one's hard disk, preventing unauthorised access to the system. If you're a security nut, GIGABYTE has you covered.
The CPU area, thanks to the retention clamp design AMD uses for its heatsinks keeps the CPU clear of high rise components. This allows for clean installation of heatsinks; no matter how big they are, the clips are easy to get to. The power for the CPU is regulated through a 4-phase solid state component system.
Moving to the rear I/O ports, GIGABYTE has put a lot into this board, that's for sure. Of note here are the two obvious video ports; one CRT and one DVI-I for standard displays. If you want to go full digital, the HDMI interface port is included as well, allowing easy connection of the system to a LCD or plasma TV; great for HTPC purposes from the IGP. For digital storage, one eSATA port is included that is controlled from the sixth SATA port of the SB700.
Lastly we have expansion slot possibilities. Thanks to the Hybrid CrossfireX technology, a single PCI Express x16 slot supporting PCI-E 2.0 specs is included. If you have one of the Hybrid CrossfireX certified cards on hand, you can connect it through the PCI-E x16 slot and use both the discrete and IGP together to boost system performance, though don't expect double like standard Crossfire claims, but enough to make some games playable where they normally wouldn't be with the integrated solution alone.
For additional PCI Express connectivity, a single PCI Express x1 slot is included supporting PCI-E 2.0. That's right; SB700 is a PCI-E 2.0 compliant part. Finally, two PCI slots make up the last of the expansion offerings. Two mightn't be much, but remember this is m-ATX. It's not going to have as many as full ATX for obvious reasons, but it's more than enough for a HTPC or basic PC offering.
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