Asus M4A78-HTPC/RC: A Complete HTPC Solution?

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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. The main ATX power connector is located on the right side of the board above five SATA ports and a single IDE connector at right angle to the PCB. A molex connector is located at the very bottom of the board under the PCI slot to give the onboard audio an independent supply of power.

The northbridge cooler is good sized and short enough to avoid problems for third party CPU coolers. The southbridge heatsink, as typical on Asus boards, is diminutive. Asus has also covered it with a decorative plate depicting an equalizer graph making it more difficult to dissipate heat. The voltage regulators to the left of the CPU socket are bare.

The back panel is stocked with everything one would expect to see on a HTPC-oriented board including HDMI, S/PDIF, and the aforementioned gold-plated RCA audio ports. There is also a sticker urging us to connect the included remote receiver to one of two specified USB ports.

The board with an Arctic Cooling Alpine 64 heatsink installed.

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