Asus M4A78T-E AM3 motherboard

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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 make the system more thermally challenging.

The board's layout is fairly orderly with nothing serious out of place. The floppy drive port is again, relegated to the very bottom of the board, perhaps to dissuade its use altogether. The 4-pin ATX12V power connector is in a poor spot as well, especially when you consider the increasing popularity of cases with bottom-mounted power supplies. There are four fan headers, but only the one next to the CPU socket has PWM support.

Three aluminum heatsinks, painted blue give the board a relaxed look. The southbridge cooler is unimpressive and the fins on the northbridge cooler are oddly oriented with some pointing upwards and others angled to the side.

The board's capacitors are all solid-state and a nice VRM heatsink is present next to an orderly line of chokes.

The back panel is fully loaded with HDMI, eSATA, FireWire and S/PDIF goodness. The only things missing are a PS/2 mouse port and WiFi.

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