At the same time, we have to point out a few frustrating drawbacks that may make potential Skulltrail owners pretty unhappy. Namely, it is the cooling of the key mainboard components: chipset North and South Bridges and the PCI Express bus bridges. There is a relatively big and low aluminum heatsink covering the South Bridge together with two Nvidia micro-chips. In the center of this heatsink there is a high-speed fan, 40mm in diameter. And although this whole thing provides pretty decent cooling for the chips, it is annoyingly loud, unfortunately. As for the chipset North Bridge cooling, it is topped with a passive aluminum heatsink with pretty tall ribbing. They recommend installing a fan on top of it, but it is missing from the bundle for some reason.
This chipset cooling solution is hardly acceptable for the top-of-the-line solutions. Mainboard makers have learned long ago to design very efficient passive cooling solutions with heatpipes, so we couldn’t really grasp why Intel didn’t do something like that.
The chipset South Bridge of Intel D5400XS is Intel 6321ESB chip. It is responsible for two PCI slots, nine USB 2.0 ports, six Serial ATA and one Parallel ATA ports.
Besides, the mainboard also features a number of integrated onboard controllers that provide gigabit network, Firewire interface, eSATA interface and integrated sound. on the mainboard rear panel we can find two eSATA ports, six USB ports, a gigabit network port, IEEE1394 port and five analogue audio-jacks with an optical SPDIF Out.
You can check out the complete list of mainboard specifications from the table below:
The support of two LGA771 processors requires not only a larger eATX mainboard form-factor. Intel D5400XS also sets specific requirements to the power supply unit. Intel recommends using at least 1kW PSU for Skulltrail platform. However, these requirements are a little bit exaggerated, because with a single graphics card and CPUs overclocked to 4GHz a 600W PSU is more than enough. The really important thing, however, is the presence of two 8-pin 12V power connectors instead of one. Although the board can work fine with only one of them actually used, during overclocking you should better make sure both of them are connected as it will prevent the system from overloading.
Now that we have briefly introduced to you Intel D5400XS, we can finally sum up the main differences between this mainboard and a regular dual-socket LGA771 workstation mainboard and figure out what makes Intel D5400XS a solution for computer enthusiasts:
- Four PCI Express x16 slots with SLI and Crossfire technologies support;
- Compatibility with regular LGA775 cooling solutions;
- CPU overclocking options.
These three features are the determinative ones. So far there are no mainboards other than Intel D5400XS that could boast the same. And they will hardly ever appear, because the market for Skulltrail type of platforms is still very small.