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ASUS Z8NA-D6C (Intel 5500) Motherboard - The Motherboard

With so many single socket motherboards floating around, we thought we would try a little dual CPU fun this time around.

| Motherboards in IT/Datacenter | Posted: Aug 3, 2010 2:48 pm
TweakTown Rating: 84%Manufacturer: ASUS

The Board

 

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To stuff everything needed for a full two 1366 sockets (complete with memory banks for each) and the required chipset into an ATX setup, ASUS had to make some interesting and difficult design choices. Some of these are very visible others are not so obvious.

 

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One of the most visible choices is the socket layout and placement. The two 1366 sockets have been placed "head-to-head". The reasons for this are fairly simple. By placing them this way they can route the traces in an almost mirrored fashion. If you look at the board you can see those traces and how they extend in along a roughly 45 degree angle but in opposite directions.

 

You can also see something that I have talked about before. Notice how many of the traces are not straight, but appear to be squiggly? That is called trace tuning. It is when you need to make sure signals reach a particular point at the right time. By zig-zagging them you can slow down the speed that the signal reaches its destination.

 

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Looking at another design choice that is growing more common in server boards, we see both the 24-pin and the 8-pin aux power connector at the top of the board.

 

This move does a couple of things; it shortens the signal paths to the power regulation for the two sockets and helps to keep cables out of the way of air flow.

 

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Moving to the lower half of the board we find an odd assortment of slots. You have a single x16 physical slot that actually happens to be x16 electrical. The two x8 slots are not so forthcoming. They are both only x4 electrical. That sneaky little x1 slot is not that at all. It is a MIMO slot for the optional audio card. We did not get this card in our package so we ended up using the single PCI slot for our Xonar D2.

 

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Here we have that little ASPEED GPU and its associated 8MB of memory. Above this we can see a jumper. That jumper allows you to completely turn this GPU off. For our testing this was left off as the ASPEED is really only meant to give you basic display functions and while handy for servers is of little use for most workstations.

 

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What's missing from this picture? Well it is the SAS ports that would come from the LSI SAS RAID controller. That controller is not present on the D6C so instead we get some blank space here. Let's take a look at the ports that are visible. There are six in view, four are red and two are black. That actually means nothing. They all are controlled by the Intel ICH10R. The two black ones just let you know they are ports five and six; this can help you quickly ID which port is one when mounted in a case and the board level lettering is not visible.

 

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More missing here; there is room and points for a floppy port, but it is not there. We do find a single board mounted USB port. This is good for software dongles like the kind you need for Lightwave 3D.

 

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The ports are light, but they normally would be on a server board. You get two PS/2 ports two USB 2.0 ports, a legacy serial port, the VGA port and two GB LAN ports.

 

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