Gigabyte's 8N-SLI Royal uses a full 30x30cm ATX PCB with 6 layers. Boards are now starting to get bigger due to complex memory trace routes, additional onboard controllers and various other components that get added all needing trace routing, and with that comes the need for a clean signal. If we had too little PCB, we'd end up with crosstalk across the components, and end up with a very expansive paperweight.
In all the layout of the board is pretty clean apart from the location of the 12v CPU voltage power connector. This, once again is located between the Northbridge and the I/O ports on the back, leaving the power cable to be routed either around or over the CPU heatsink, restricting air flow, and with a Pentium 4 CPU, you need as much air flow as possible.
The rest of the board is quite neat with the memory slots colour coded for easy bank identification, just match colour for colour and you are home free. The 24-pin ATX power connector is located behind the DIMM sockets along with the two IDE controllers from the Southbridge. A third IDE port is located just below the Southbridge IDE ports and is angled at 90 degrees to the board - this is a separate IDE port and will get to this later on in the article.
The CPU uses a 4 phase onboard voltage regulation system to keep the CPU as stable as possible. You may notice the orange expansion slot. This is used to add a VRM (or Voltage Regulation Module) which adds an extra 4 phases to the equation, so when overclocking you can expect a cleaner voltage signal.
The rear I/O panel gives you all the connectors you will need to get started. On the back is two PS/2 ports for Keyboard and Mouse, two SPIDF ports, one RCA and one Toslink. One parallel and one serial port are provided as legacy, though there are little use for them now as USB is here. Two RJ-45 LAN ports are provided atop a stack of USB towers giving you four USB ports on the back and the remaining six needs to be setup with PCI riser brackets. Lastly you have the analogue stereo jacks for speakers up to 7.1 configurations.
Expansion slots on this board resemble a standard SLI setup. There are two PCI Express x16 slots, one blue and one black. When in single graphics mode, the blue slot has all 16 PCI Express lanes routed to it. When in SLI mode, the black slot is changed from an x1 slot to an x8 slot to allow SLI operation.
Two PCI Express x1 slots are provided for future PCI-E expansion as well as two PCI slots for any devices you wish to migrate. Between the two PCI Express x16 slots is a paddle card. This is used to set Single or SLI graphics operation, Gigabyte doesn't employ an auto switcher.
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