Now it's onto the board itself and just by looking at it, we can see that ASUS has put more work than usual into its Digital Home series of boards than what you would expect for something on the budget side of thing.
The board itself is a Micro ATX board measuring 24.5 x 24.5cm, a standard size for this form factor, this board will fit into any case supporting the Micro ATX format.
ASUS has also done a fantastic job on placing the connectors. The 24-pin power connector and FDD connector located behind the 4 DIMM sockets on the right hand side of the board mid section. The 4-pin CPU power is located behind the PS/2 ports at the top right of the board, another good place that's for sure. The 2 IDE and 4 SATA ports are located at the bottom right of the board. On the Micro ATX layout is this is the best spot for them to keep them out of the way of the internal components.
The area around the CPU is quite clean and should pose no problems for non-stock cooling; however, your case size will make the determination if you can fit a larger cooler in or not. The CPU gets its power from a 3 phase voltage regulation system. AMD's K8 draws much less than some of the Intel offerings (though Core 2 now equals AMD's setup) so 3 phase is enough - 4 or more is better for overclocking but we aren't expecting much from clock speeds when it comes to this board considering that is designed to be a Media Center PC.
The rear expansion ports are different from the usual ASUS layout. First off there are no e.SATA ports and that we are kind of disappointed about, as the Digital Home will benefit from e.SATA enclosures for external storage of movies. You will also notice there is no Serial port or Parallel port. They have been removed to make way for the 15-pin CRT port and the DVI-I port. Since the board uses the GeForce 6150 Northbridge you can use the onboard graphics for basic video setup and dual monitor support. For the HTPC, this will be more than enough to power the system and as we have mentioned, there is a stack of visual output methods and the only connector missing from the group is HDMI.
To the expansion slots now and ASUS has a good arrangement for the DH setup. A Single PCI Express x16 slot is used if you want to go discrete graphics or if you want to use both the onboard and a separate graphics card you can to use up to 4 monitors - a very helpful feature indeed. A single PCI Express x1 and 2 PCI slots make up your expansion possibilities.
For additional controllers there is a single Texas Instruments PCI Firewire controller chip to give you 2 Firewire ports, one of the rear I/O ports and 1 for the PCI Riser bracket. If your case has Front Firewire port you can leave the PCI riser bracket in the box and wire the extra port to the front panel.
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