Unfortunately we didn't get the full retail box included with our sample, this due to the early nature of it. However, we did get the board and that's really what counts here today.
As you can see, GIGABYTE has managed to turn out a very impressive layout indeed. GIGABYTE intends this board to be aimed at the overclockers and enthusiasts, so a good layout is extremely important.
As per GIGABYTE style, the 24-pin ATX power connector along with the FDD connector are located behind the four DDR2 memory slots that the board is equipped with on the upper right hand side of the board. The 4-pin power connector is shoved over to the left side of the board behind the PS/2 ports and is snug between the heatsink assembly for the voltage regulators.
Moving down the board, we have the six SATA ports that the ICH10R supports which are towards the lower right edge of the board. Only two of the six are rotated where the other four point straight up. I would have preferred to have seen all of them on their sides and stacked, for a better and cleaner layout. Next to the SATA ports is an 8080 diagnostic connector that reads out post codes from the PCI bus, allowing users to know just what is happening with their systems. Another plus is the onboard press switches for the power on and reset. If you don't plan to put this into a case, you don't have to wire up jumpers for power and reset, they are provided.
Moving along to the CPU area, it does look a little cramped. However, there is more than enough room for us to get our OCZ Vanquisher installed and removed without too much hassle. Compared to the ASUS P5Q Deluxe which scraped our knuckles on the heatsink when trying to get it installed and removed, the P45-Extreme is quite a bit easier.
GIGABYTE's power regulation system comes from a Dual Circuit 6-phase voltage system. In total there are 12 regulators, but rather than being in series GIGABYTE runs parallel 6 phases to get a total of 12; a better and cleaner voltage signal comes from not overloading a single rail, but having dual planes to go through.
While not the first manufacturer to introduce water cooling onto the Northbridge, GIGABYTE is not here to be outdone. For the cooling you can either leave it as the air cooling system that it's intended for or you can choose to go with running water through the system to help cool the voltage system along with the North and Southbridges. If you intend to go extreme, a bolt on extra is included that uses up the top PCI expansion slot (meaning you lose the only PCIe x1 slot the board) in order to run a unique cooling system. This screws onto a spare plate on the Northbridge cooler and allows for a better overall heat exchange.