Now that we have listed all the major features of our ASUS K8N-DL mainboard, let’s take a closer look at its PCB layout.
To tell the truth, it didn’t strike me as great at first glance. On the other hand, you can hardly expect a dual-processor workstation mainboard to be very conveniently designed for easy system assembly. Firstly, a mainboard like that is packed with much more onboard electronic components than any enthusiast platform, and secondly, workstations are not as frequently upgraded or modified as the enthusiast systems.
ASUS K8N-DL mainboard features slightly bigger PCB than regular ATX mainboards. However, it is at the same time smaller than most dual-core mainboards out there and should fit easily into the system cases designed to support Extended ATX form-factor.
ASUS engineers tried real hard to move as many connectors as possible to the left-hand side of the PCB: away from the processor sockets and closer to the expansion slots. As a result, there are only a 24-pin and 8-pin ATX power connectors and a FDD connector on the right-hand side of the board. Frankly speaking the power supply connectors are located very conveniently. The chipset Serial ATA connectors are located in a pretty OK place: they are moved to the front edge of the PCB right before the expansion slots together with one of the Parallel ATA connectors. In order to prevent the cables from hanging all over the place, ASUS engineers have even turned some of these connectors parallel with the PCB edge.
The placement of all other connectors left us pretty puzzled. One of the biggest drawbacks is the location of some ATA ports on the very left side of the board and placement of the case front panel connectors in the far left corner of the PCB.
During the system assembly we also encountered the following problems. If the graphics card installed into the PCI Express x16 slot features a massive cooling system onboard, it blocks one of the two PCI slots. Moreover, since the chipset cooler sits really close to the graphics slot lock, you will have hard times removing the graphics card from its slot if you have to. You can also face some difficulties when you try to plug in the power for the first processor cooler. The corresponding connector is squeezed between the DIMM slots and the processor socket, which makes it pretty hard to reach.
The funny thing about ASUS K8N-DL PCB design is that it brings back the times when the system was configured by resetting the jumpers. All onboard controllers integrated onto this mainboard can be disabled only by the jumpers and not in the BIOS Setup. You should keep this thing in mind, because once the mainboard has been installed into the system case together will the CPUs and all expansion cards, you will have very hard times reaching for those jumpers you might want to reset.