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PHYSICAL DETAILS & LAYOUT
A board's layout is important in several regards. The positioning of components
can dictate compatibility with other products (third party heatsinks mainly)
and also ease of installation. Poorly placed power connectors can also airflow
and make the system more thermally challenging.
Bird's eye view.
At first glance, the layout appears to be rather pedestrian. Clearance around
the CPU socket is a bit tight due to the close proximity of the DIMM slots.
A large CPU heatsink may make the yellow slots inaccessible. The chipset heatsink
is also close by though is probably not tall enough to cause problems. Most
of the power regulation circuitry is neatly lined up in a row near the back
panel and both power connectors are out of the way. Fan headers are strategically
placed at the top, rear and front of the board.
Viewed from the side.
From the side the board appears stream-lined due to the use of short, solid-state
capacitors. The IDE port lies on its side, helping the cumbersome IDE cable
be just a little bit less obtrusive. The SATA ports are further away from the
edge than we'd like. Ideally they'd be on their sides as well next to the IDE
connector. The floppy connector is in the worst place imaginable, at the very
bottom buried under the last PCI slot and next to the USB headers. The USB headers
and system panel are easily accessed using Asus' Q-Connector kit, but installing
a floppy cable would be troublesome if expansion cards are present.
In the center of the board sits a large northbridge heatsink held down by plastic
spring-loaded push-pins. Its fins are thick and broad, making heat dissipation
less than optimal. At 32mm high measured from the surface of the PCB, it should
not pose a problem for the majority of third party heatsinks. The ASUS nameplate
top the chipset heatsink is not likely to be helpful; such cosmetics have been
known to impede cooling. Next to the SATA ports, a smaller cooler is also present
on the southbridge. It's a typical low-profile heatsink commonly found on Asus
Back panel connectors.
The back panel allows for various forms of connectivity. Along with the typical
analog audio, USB, and ethernet ports, Asus provides video via VGA and HDMI,
and S/PDIF via coaxial. DVI is provided via an adapter that plugs into the HDMI
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