Now we get down to the nitty gritty of the board itself. First and foremost this board isn't designed for true hardcore users who want to break a 3DMark record. If you want a hardcore board, this isn't going to be a good review for you. This board is aimed at value systems as well as the integrated market like the HTPC's that many want to build these days. The board is a Micro-ATX layout measuring 24.5x24.5cm. This is small enough to fit into the most demanding Micro ATX case. HTPC cases are especially tight, as their design is to minimize size as much as possible.
Layout and placement of connectors, plugs and so forth are pretty well thought out. The 24-pin ATX power connector and FDD connector are at the top right of the board. Just below this are the 2 IDE connectors, all located behind the DIMM sockets. The only flaw is the placement of the 4-pin CPU power connector between the Northbridge heatsink and the I/O shield. In a Micro ATX case, cooling is at a premium and routing cables near the CPU is a bit no-no to air flow dynamics.
The 4 SATA ports are located at the bottom right of the board just beside and below the Southbridge chipset.
Layout around the CPU is clean and tidy, if you want to put the largest Socket 939 cooler onto this board you won't have any obstructions to worry about. Power is supplied to the CPU through a 3 phase switching voltage regulation system. While more phases are better for stability, overclocking to the max in a micro ATX system is kind of redundant.
The I/O ports at the rear of the board are pretty standard for the most part. The main difference is there are no serial ports. They have been removed to make way for a 15-pin standard Video port and a DVI-I video port. If you want to run dual monitors off this board's onboard video system, there's nothing to hold you back.
Expansion slots are plentiful for a Micro-ATX layout. You have a PCI Express x16 slot for a dedicated graphics card. Next you have a singe PCI Express x1 slot which you can add in devices like the new TV tuners from ATI based on the PCI Express architecture. Lastly are 3 PCI slots for legacy cards like Sound cards or the older TV tuners.
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