At a glance the layout of the board looks good,
albeit in basic reference design configuration.
The PCI-E slots are far enough away from the DIMMs as not to interfere with
removing or installing system memory. This alleviates not having to go through
the extra trouble of removing the video card just to replace memory, as required
with some boards.
Clearance around the CPU socket is sufficient with no tall capacitors close by.
However, the DIMM slots are close and a heatsink that expands too much past the
CPU mounting bracket may interfere with a memory module in the closest DIMM
slot. I used the Akasa AK862 (90x90x45mm with a 92x92x25mm fan) and experienced
no clearance problems. Also, the popular Thermalright XP-90 and XP-90C I found
would fit without any clearance problems and even the XP-120 should be OK.
Looking at the power connections, the 24-pin connector is favorably located
above the floppy and two IDE slots. The 4-pin connector, which on many boards is
located in the congested area on the other side of the CPU socket, is located
out of the way at the top center of the board. This provides easy access to this
connector and removes having to ‘snake’ the 4-pin connecting cable around the
heat sink or running wires over the heat sink fan and potentially blocking air
flow to the heat sink. Another plus is that it gets another cable out of the way
making for a neater overall wiring arrangement.
FDD & IDE
The board is supplied with a floppy (FDD) and 2 IDE slots. As mentioned, the
FDD and IDE slots are located just below the 24-pin power connector. This is an
acceptable location as extra long cables are not needed to connect your drives.
Also, the location is out of the way of the power connection cable from the PSU,
again making for a neater wiring/cable arrangement.
The DIMM slots are located just to the right of the CPU. Other
than being somewhat close to the CPU mounting bracket area, the positioning is
acceptable. The DIMM slots are color-coded and this is of significance for
running in dual channel mode.
PCI & PCI-Express Slots
Cards in SLI Configuration
The positioning of the PCI-E slots, as mentioned, are somewhat unique in
having 3 full-length slots available. This, in effect, omits the necessity of
jumpers, or switching cards, to manually activate the appropriate mode going
from the use of one dedicated x16 PCI-E slot for a single video card to two x8
PCI-E for two cards in a SLI configuration or vice-versa.