The ASUS K8N-DL Motherboard
ASUS is more known for its layout of extremely clean enthusiast motherboards, but this hasn't stopped them from doing a fantastic job on the server board here either.
Placement of the connectors is just brilliant. To run this board, you will need an EPS12 rated PSU. The EPS12 are a 24-pin main power connector and an 8-pin CPU voltage connector. These two sockets are located on the right hand side, the 24-pin is behind the first bank of DIMM sockets and the 8-pin above the first back of DIMM sockets.
The layout around the CPU's sockets themselves is very clean. While you might think they are kind of cramped, remember, it's for server use, or light enthusiasts, which means that the stock cooler is more than enough, and fits in without any problems. Each CPU has its own dedicated 3 phase power regulation system, totally independent of the other. The 3 phase system is more than enough for AMD's latest CPU's, even their dual core based Opteron's draw nowhere near as much as Intel's power hungry Xeon line, which requires 4 or more phases per CPU.
Moving on to expansion, the ASUS K8N-DL is rather short on this part, however, most of the needs have been placed on board. The K8N-DL is not designed to run the high end 64bit PCI-X system but rather using PCI-E as its hook. For this there is a single PCI-E x16 slot for graphics cards, both nVidia and ATI have PCI-E Workstation graphics cards for the workstation users, if all that power isn't needed a simple 6200 or X300 can be used as a base graphics card, either way, costs for graphics can be reduced if you need the extra graphics or just basic.
For adding in additional peripherals, there is a single PCI-E x1 slot and two PCI legacy slots, which is perfect for adding in additional devices that you man need in the future.
I know a few of us out there are wondering why there are so many DIMM sockets on this board. The fact is that we are dealing with an AMD64 system here. Since every AMD64 CPU has its own on-CPU memory controller, both CPU's need to have memory installed into them in order to get the system working. So if you have two CPU's you need a minimum of four DIMMs to get both setup using Dual Channel Memory configuration. There are four DIMMs on the right hand side of the board. These are used for CPU0 or the first CPU which will be doing most of the kernel work under Windows. The two for CPU1 or the Aux CPU are located behind the rear I/O panel. These two must be populated if you have the second CPU installed or you will simply get the no post situation.
The rear I/O panel looks more of what you would expect on an ASUS desktop board. You get your standard PS/2 ports, a single serial and parallel port, four USB ports on the back with the other six being available with PCI riser cables and a NIC port. You will also find two SPDIF ports for Digital audio and a 6 channel Analogue audio setup.
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