The Board Continued
Moving along, we get onto the rear I/O ports. We get a good look as what GIGABYTE has laid out for us. In order to increase the convection cooling, the heatsink assembly takes up a bit of space on the rear I/O ports to help vent the heat generated by the Mosfets. This limits the board down a few extra slots. To that end there are no eSATA ports or FireWire ports on the rear, which have to be taken care of with PCI cover brackets. For USB hogs, a total of eight are available on the rear along with two ethernet ports for Dual Band Ethernet. The most notable feature of the rear I/O is the inclusion of a CMOS reset button. This allows you to reset the CMOS in the event of an unrecoverable bad overclock without having to open up the case.
Lastly, it's onto the expansion slots. In total there are three PCI Express x16 slots; one blue and two orange. The single blue slot is tied into the 16 lanes on the P45 Northbridge. If you are using a single graphics card then it's recommended to run it in the blue slot, giving it the full 16 lanes. If you intend to go Crossfire then you must put a second graphics card into the top orange slot. This then moves eight lanes from the blue slots to the orange slot, giving you the twin x8 configuration for Crossfire that the P45 is famous for.
The last PCI Express x16 slot is run off four of the six PCIe x1 lanes that the ICH10R incorporates. This allows you to use a third graphics card for PhysX, or any RAID controller card that requires more than a x1 slot. However, it only runs at a max speed of x4; any card that has over x4 lanes will only run at a max of x4 speed on this slot.
A single PCIe x1 slot sits above the blue x16 slot, however, if you use the extra cooling system that GIGABYTE includes then you lose this slot. Lastly, there are three PCI legacy slots. Personally I would have liked to have seen a single PCI slot and a universal PCIe slot put in to keep the PCIe the dominant expansion architecture.