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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 thus make the system more thermally challenging.
The PCB layout is pretty clean with all the major power and interface connectors
on the edges. The CPU socket is clear of any obstructions and is a fair distance
away from the top edge of the board, making it a prime candidate for third party
cooling. The board has 6 SATA ports, a single IDE channel, a floppy connector,
and 3 fan headers.
At an angle.
The most notable feature are the chipset heatsinks as their bright blue
color and angled-fins stand out from the black PCB. The northbridge cooler is
surprisingly modest, extending only 26mm up from the PCB surface. There is no
cooling provided for the VRMs, but all the boards' capacitors are of the solid-state
The rear I/O panel is well stocked with HDMI, DVI and S/PDIF ports, allowing
for digital video and audio connectivity. There is also a FireWire port and
eSATA is available via an included adapter bracket.
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