Articles: Mainboards

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Closer Look at PCB Layout

Of course, the first thing that catches your eye when you take a look at ABIT AN8 32X is the ABIT Silent OTES III noiseless cooling system using heatpipe technology.

MOSFET transistors are nicely grouped and covered with a large ribbed heatsink that bears the major thermal workload. The processor voltage regulator circuitry is a three-phase one and consists of three 1200μF capacitors from the KZE series and six 2200μF capacitors from the KZG series all by Chemi-Con. Most of other capacitors installed on this PCB are manufactured by Rubycon.

The additional RAID controller from Silicon Image with two Serial ATA ports is also located in this part of the mainboard PCB. And it is quite unusual that the POST-indicator is there, too.

The chipset North Bridge is cooled passively by a small ribbed heatsink, which is cooled down by the airflow from the CPU fan located very close to it. The South Bridge is covered with a small flat heatsink, however its thermal conditions are guarded by the heatpipe taking the heat over to the MOSFET heatsink.

There are 4 Serial ATA connectors in the area around the South Bridge and they are implemented through the chipset. The two IDE connectors are facing sideways instead of the traditional up-top position. Also, there is the Texas Instruments controller with the corresponding pin-connector for the additional IEEE1394 ports that could be installed with the help of a special rear panel bracket and three USB pin-connectors. I would like to specifically stress that the color marking used for the front panel connectors is very convenient.

The rear panel features sound ports, network RJ45 connector, four USB ports, IEEE1394 port and PS/2 connectors for keyboard and mouse. As for the LPT and COM ports, they are not just absent on the mainboard rear panel: they are simply not laid out at all.

I was very pleased to discover optical digital connectors on the mainboard rear panel. Even though one of them was not quite nicely soldered, it didn’t affect its working capacity.

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