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A board's layout is important in several regards. The positioning of components
can dictate compatibility with other products like third party heatsinks and
long dual-slot graphics cards. Poorly placed connectors can also disrupt airflow
and make a system more thermally challenging.
The board has a fairly good layout with only one obvious fault: the 8-pin
EPS12V connector is hard to access due to its proximity to the VRM heatsink.
The SATA ports are on their sides which helps keep the cables tidy and
prevents them from interfering with long graphics cards. We also like
that the LED/switch headers are raised slightly; typically they are at
the very bottom which can make plugging in the connectors difficult.
The CPU socket is surrounded on two sides by a moderately sized Northbridge
heatsink and a much larger VRM heatsink, joined together by a heatpipe.
The socket is a little close to the memory slots, but this is typical
of AMD motherboards.
The back panel is stocked with VGA, DVI, HDMI, S/PDIF and FireWire ports
as well as a pair of blue USB 3.0 connectors powered by a NEC chipset.
The heatsinks surrounding the CPU are only 30~31mm tall as measured from
the PCB surface so they pose no trouble for most tower coolers. However,
a 120mm fan heatsink oriented north-south will cover the first two DIMM
slots and interfere with memory that have tall heatspreaders.
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