Intel D945GCLF m-ITX: Atom For The Desktop

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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 disrupt airflow and make the system more thermally challenging.


Viewed from the side.

The efficient Atom processor only requires a tiny, low-profile heatsink to provide adequate cooling. Next to it, monstrous by comparison, sits the northbridge cooler. Not only is it many times taller (43mm high measured from the PCB), it also comes equipped with a 40mm fan hard-mounted with two screws. That is a hint to the Achilles heel of this board.


Layout.

As a mini-ITX board there are very few expansion options. There are two SATA ports and fan headers, and only one IDE port, PCI slot, and onboard USB header. While the embedded low-power processor uses very little real estate, parts of the layout still seemed cramped — the CMOS battery, memory slot, and IDE port almost touch.


The back panel.

The back panel has an old school look, complete with legacy serial and parallel ports, which Intel says are still of high interest in commercial and industrial specialized applications where this board will see the greatest demand. To cut costs, only the bare essential features are provided: Analog video via a single VGA port, 10/100 ethernet, and a 4-channel high definition audio controller. This is more similar to the Zotac NF610i-ITX we recently reviewed, rather than the full featured (but much more costly) Albatron KI690-AM2 AMD-based mini-ITX board or the similarly pricey EPIA EN12000E from VIA, the originator of the mini-ITX form factor.



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