Moving along, it's time to take a look at the board itself. ECS has gone with a black PCB with light colour options on its expansion slots; quite attractive indeed. The board is made up on a 24x30cm 6-layer ATX PCB with a distinct yellow and red expansion colour scheme. The four memory slots come coloured with two yellow slots for Channel 1 and two red slots for Channel 2. The 24-pin power connector along with a black FDD connector and yellow IDE connector are located behind the four memory slots on the right hand edge of the board at the midway point. The 4-pin aux power connector is placed to the upper left of the CPU retention bracket, just a bit back from the PS/2 rear I/O towers. This does keep the cables enough of a distance away from the CPU to prevent any air flow restrictions.
The five SATA ports that are controlled by the SB700 Southbridge are located on the bottom right of the board, one below the next in a line. While you may be asking where the sixth SATA ports is, since SB700 has six SATA channels, the last one has been routed to an eSATA port on the rear I/O.
The CPU area is extremely clean of high-rise components. Thanks to AMD's retention mechanism, this keeps a lot of components clear of the CPU, allowing for large heatsinks to be installed. Our OCZ Vanquisher multi-purpose CPU cooler managed to fit on without any problems; easy and quick. For the voltage supply, a 3-phase system is used. However, ECS hasn't swapped over to solid state components unlike ASUS or GIGABYTE, so it's still using the older chokes and electrolyte capacitors. Hopefully ECS will soon make the switch.
Thanks to the 780G's integrated GPU, ECS has taken advantage of this by placing a D-Sub VGA port on the back along with a HDMI port for high definition video output to any HDMI compatible device. There is, however, no DVI port for LCDs with the usual DVI interface; this is a bit disappointing. However, this can be resolved by using a HDMI to DVI adapter. The inclusion of a single eSATA port gives you the option for high speed external storage; this port is routed to channel 6 of the SB700's SATA controller. If you want, you can have the drive in a RAID array with the internal drives, however, this is not really a good idea if you're going to use it for storage and swapping between PCs. The lack of FireWire onboard is a bit disappointing as quite a few devices like iPods and DV cameras use this interface. If you want it, you're going to need to get a separate controller card.
Moving along to the expansion slots, ECS has colour coded them depending on their function. While the 780G does have an integrated GPU, it also has support for discrete graphics as well as Hybrid Graphics. On the 780G Northbridge it has 26 PCI Express lanes with 2.0 support. 16 of them are routed to the red PCI Express x16 slot for a dedicated graphics card, while four of them are routed for connection between the 780G and SB700.
With 20 lanes down, that leaves six lanes left; two of them are routed off to the yellow PCI Express x1 slots on the board, leaving room for the Gigabit PCI-E LAN controller that is supplied. Lastly on the list there are three PCI slots, SB700 supports six PCI master devices so you're safe to use any PCI based controller in black slots.
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