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PACKAGING & LAYOUT
The Asus M2A-VM HDMI ships in a simple green box.
The package contents. It's standard fare for the most part except for
the component cable adapter, Q-connector kit, and the HDMI card.
Asus includes something they call a "Q-connector kit." Instead of
painstakingly connecting each individual front panel and USB plug to the appropriate
pins on the board (which inevitably results in a lot squinting and cursing),
plug them instead into the Q-Connectors which act a convenient go-between. These are great little time savers, and we wish all motherboards would come with them.
The HDMI module needs to be plugged into the PCIe 16x slot.
The board's back panel.
Since Asus decided to include a parallel port, there simply wasn't room for
extra video outputs on the back panel. To supplement this, they include an expansion
card with HDMI, S-Video/component, composite, and S/PDIF out. To be used, this
card must be installed in the PCI-E 16x slot, which may be a huge negative for
some users (most notably gamers).
The board viewed from above.
The layout is fairly good. All the main connectors are located on the edges
of the board and nothing is glaringly out of place. The IDE port is placed on
its side which can help get a bulky IDE cable out of the way. There are three
fan headers: one 4-pin next to the AM2 socket for the CPU fan, one 3-pin in
a corner near the DIMM slots and one 3-pin at the very bottom next to the USB
headers. The CMOS jumper is sandwiched between the SATA ports and the front
panel header which makes it a bit difficult to access.
The board layout viewed from a low angle.
Clearance around the socket is a little tight with the northbridge heatsink
millimeters away on one side and a line of tall capacitors on another. The heatsink
covering the northbridge is surprisingly small and held on by a retention clip
hooked onto two hoops. Replacing this heatsink may be problematic as there are
no mounting holes. The heatsink on the southbridge chip, common on many Asus
boards, is very short with shallow grooves not ideal for thermal dissipation.
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