The Motherboard in Detail
Now we come to the best part, the actual board. DFI has what we would call a rather unique design. While we have seen boards like this before, it's been a while since one like this popped up. The board is a smaller 24x30cm ATX board with the DIMM sockets moved from the right hand side to the left, between the I/O ports and the CPU. Since AMD uses an on die memory controller from the CPU, the memory modules can be located either side or at the top of the CPU, manufacturers discretion.
Even still, we would still say this board has a good layout. The 2 IDE controller ports are located at the right hand side of the board on the edge, away from the CPU. The FDD connector resides below the IDE ports rotated 90 degrees to flatten out the cable as best as possible, a great feature for ribbon cables is this layout. 4 SATA ports controlled by the Southbridge sit below the FDD board just to the right of the Southbridge chip.
DFI has gone with the ATI RD580 Northbridge chipset and the ULI M1575 Southbridge. This setup is pretty common for the ATI Xpress 3200 setup as the ULI Southbridge is a more mature product with faster IDE/SATA data transfer rates as well as not suffering from the USB problems the ATI SB450 suffers. The two chips are connected through the PCI Express bus using an x4 link. This is the only Southbridge chipset to use this interface and allows for greater flexibility as it can be added to any motherboard with a spare x1, x2 or x4 PCI Express link.
Above the IDE ports are 2 power connector ports. One is the 24-pin ATX power supply connector and beside this is an 8-pin EPS12 power connector that supports the 4-pin power plugs on older PSU's. This is one of the best power core placements ever, as it keeps all of the bulky cables in one spot on the top right of the board.
DFI up's the antae on this board by providing a 4 phase voltage regulation system to keep the power to the board as stable as possible. DFI also goes the extra mile by putting heatsinks on the Mosfet's to keep them cool when under heavy loads (read: overclocking).
The rear I/O panel contains all the necessary ports, however, there is no Serial or Parallel ports, so people with older printers are out of luck. You will see there is a large gap between the SPDIF ports and the USB towers; this is where the daughter module sits for the rear audio ports - in all, it is pretty well setup.
Expansion slots are pretty standard. 2 PCI Express x16 ports take care of the dual graphics requirements. Both slots run at full x16 speeds thanks to the new RD580 Northbridge. One nice feature is that the Northbridge contains both PCI Express x16 interfaces, not like the nVidia offerings that have the second PCI Express x16 channel running though the Southbridge. For additional expansion there are 2 PCI Express x1 slots as well as 3 PCI legacy slots.
While you may think 4 SATA ports are enough, DFI does not. To this end the older Silicon Image 3114 PCI controller chip is added to give 4 extra SATA ports. The only problems with this chip is it only runs SATA 1.5 specs, so no 3GB/s or NCQ support here. The other problem, it's connected using the PCI bus, so the speeds will be limited to the PCI throughput.
Lastly DFI gives you a VIA VT6307 PCI Firewire controller chip supporting 2 Firewire-a ports. One is located at the rear I/O panel and the other is accessed with a separate bracket header.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
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- Page 1 [Introduction]
- Page 2 [Specifications]
- Page 3 [The Box - Inside and Out]
- Page 4 [The Motherboard]
- Page 5 [Overclocking]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks - Test System Setup and Sandra]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks - PCMark05]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks - 3DMark03]
- Page 9 [Benchmarks - 3DMark05]
- Page 10 [Benchmarks - 3DMark06]
- Page 11 [Benchmarks - Doom 3]
- Page 12 [Benchmarks - Quake 4]
- Page 13 [Benchmarks - F.E.A.R.]
- Page 14 [Benchmarks - Far Cry]
- Page 15 [Final Thoughts]
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