Asus P5N7A-VM: Geforce 9300 IGP

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A board's layout is important in several regards. The positioning of components can dictate compatibility with other products (mainly third party heatsinks) 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 — the capacitors and chokes in the vicinity are very short. The board has 5 SATA ports (6 if you count the eSATA connection on the back pane), a single IDE channel sitting on its side, and 3 fan headers.

At an angle.

The board has a single chipset heatsink held on with 4 hooks. It measures 34mm tall from the PCB surface. There is no cooling provided for the VRMs, but all the board's capacitors are of the solid-state variety.

The chipset heatsink has open fins and an odd (decorative?) heatpipe.

The chipset cooler has 6 stubby horizontal fins on both sides and 5 vertical fins on the inside, all with slits to increase the overall surface area. Strangely, beneath the Asus face-plate sits a solitary heatpipe shaped like a racetrack. It seems completely out of place, both aesthetically and in terms of heatsink design.

Back panel.

None of the space on the rear I/O shield is put to waste — it is stocked with S/PDIF, HDMI, DVI, and eSATA connectors. This is also the first time we've seen a DisplayPort on the back of a motherboard. The only common feature the P5N7A-VM is missing is FireWire.

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