Layout wise, FIC have gone with the traditions enthusiast layout of 1 AGP, 6 PCI and neither any riser or ISA slots. FIC have placed the power connectors in an extremely good position. The 20 Pin power connector is on the right hand side of the DIMM slots, this keeps it out of the way of the CPU for maximum air flow around the CPU. The 4 pin connector is in the upper left corner, behind the PS2 ports. While this does leave a bit of cable clutter near the CPU, some cable ties do help keep the cables back and away from the CPU.
IDE and Floppy Disk connectors are well placed. The floppy disk connector is placed at the upper right position of the motherboard, which allows for people with Aopen HX08 full towers with the floppy disk drive in the ridiculous place that is (right at the top) to fit their FDD cables in without stretching them. The Intel controlled IDE connectors are below the FDD connector and well out of the way of any other important components.
At the core of the board is Intel's new I845E chipset. The Intel I845E chipset is based directly on the I845G design. Based with the same memory controller and CPU host controller the I845E is basically a I845G chipset without the onboard graphics controller. This makes the I845E a better choice for enthusiasts since you have no onboard graphics to worry about making the total price of the motherboard more affordable.
Paired with the ICH4, you now get six USB 2.0 ports over three controllers (two ports per controller). It is important to have three controllers with two ports per controller than to simply have one controller with six ports. Why? It's like this; the controller itself has 480mbps transfer which is than shared with the ports on the controller. So, if you have three USB2.0 devices you can stick them onto each different controller and get the full 480mbps transfer out of the USB system. If you have only one controller and three USB devices with the six ports on the one controller, you would have to share the 480mbps of bandwidth amongst all three devices. SiS uses a six port / two controller solution (three ports per controller) which is why SiS USB is considerably slower than VIA's VT8233A or Intel's ICH4.
Added extras from FIC
First on the added extras that FIC give you is the Realtek RTL8100BL 10/100mbps Fast Ethernet controller. This controller is a new revision from Realtek that does the exact same job as its predecessor, only this chip is a lot smaller - perfect for onboard LAN operations.
Next on the list is the sound system. FIC have thrown away the AC'97 audio on this particular board and have adopted the C-Media 6ch sound chip. This chip has appeared on many other boards and has proven to be the best onboard 6ch sound solutions, bar none. FIC includes an Optical Riser card which adds two extra stereo jacks - These two jacks control the real speakers and the center/Sub system. This allows you to use six speakers without giving up the mic and line in ports like most motherboards require you to do with this sound chip. FIC also takes advantage of the Digital sound by providing RCA SPDIF in and out as well as Optical SPDIF in and out.
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