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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.
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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