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PHYSICAL DETAILS & LAYOUT
A board's layout is important in several regards. The positioning of components
affects compatibility with other products (third party heatsinks mainly) as
well as ease of installation. Poorly placed power connectors can impede airflow
and make the system more thermally challenging.
Overall clearance around the socket is excellent, but the retention frame
is positioned in such a way that the fans on many tower heatsinks will point
upwards toward the power supply. This is not uncommon for AM2 boards. A row
of capacitors sit right next to the CPU socket but they are of the solid-state
variety, and they are short and unintrusive. The IDE and SATA ports are well-situated
near the edge of the board. The IDE port lays on its side, helping the cumbersome
IDE cable be just a little bit less obtrusive.
Bird's eye view.
The most glaring problem is the 24-pin ATX power connector sitting next to
the back panel very poor positioning. The cable connected to it would
have to be positioned under the heatsink, or behind it, blocking airflow in
either scenario. The floppy connector is at the far bottom left, making it difficult
to access. In the age where a $5 USB key holds as much data as hundreds of floppy
discs, we wouldn't mind if they got rid of floppy support altogether. Across
the CPU socket, Asus has placed a giant sticker touting 140W CPU support
does AMD even have any 140W processors in production?
As with most motherboards, the front panel connectors are at the very bottom,
making them difficult to access. This is mitigated by the Q-Connector kit that
Asus now ships with all their motherboards it makes inserting leads into
those tiny pins less painful.
In the center of the board sits a large chipset heatsink held down by plastic
spring-loaded push-pins. Its fins are thick and broad, making heat dissipation
less than optimal. nVidia has a reputation for producing hot running desktop
chipsets, so this is a bit worrisome. The cooler is approximately 32mm tall.
Back panel connectors.
The back panel connectors are almost legacy-free with only one PS/2 connector
(keyboard). The main video output is HDMI, with an adapter for DVI. VGA output
can be enabled using a separate internal header and peripheral panel connector
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