Articles: Mainboards

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System Assembly and First Problems

Since DFI LANPARTY UT NF680i LT SLI-T2R features module configuration, we can’t get to study the BIOS features right away. At first, we need to put the system together first. Karajan audio module with the plastic casing lock can be installed in almost one single move.

I had some concerns about the large chipset heatsink, but it also got in place without any problems. Just put a droplet of thermal grease on the chipset heat-spreader, place the heatsink on top of it and fasten it by catching to the loops on the PCB with the first pair of diagonal hooks, and then with the second pair.

Spring brackets on the heatsink serve to fasten the additional fan should you decide to install one. They can also be moved to the other side of the heatsink, because there are special holes in the fin array for them. I would highly recommend additional air-cooling, because the chipset heats up a lot, especially during overclocking. Even large heat dissipating surface like that turned out not enough sometimes, as we detected the chipset temperature hitting 72?C according to mainboard monitoring system. I believe the best choice of a fan would be 50x15mm, because there is not enough room between the chipset heatsink, CPU cooler and the closest graphics card for a standard 25mm fan. I didn’t have a fan like that at my disposal at the time of tests, so I had to use a 50x10mm fan instead. The retention on the heatsink doesn’t suit for a fan of this size, but luckily I didn’t really need it during the open testbed tests.

The problems started where I least expected them to: on the reverse side of the mainboard PCB. The area beneath the processor socket was completely clear, but a group of resistors to the side of it wouldn’t let me install the backplate:

I tried replacing Zalman cooler with Tuniq Tower 120, but it didn’t help much. The X-shaped backplate of the Tuniq cooler is smaller and doesn’t go across the resistors, but the very lowest resistor on the PCB falls right underneath the diagonal line that connects the PCB retention holes. It appeared exactly under one of the metal backplate pads. I couldn’t risk damaging the electronic components on the reverse side of the PCB, so I gave up the idea of fitting Zalman CNPS9700 LED or Tuniq Tower 120 cooler onto DFI LANPARTY UT NF680i LT SLI-T2R. I decided to go with Scythe Mine instead, as it requires no backplate for retention.

DFI LANPARTY UT NF680i LT SLI-T2R started, however the small USB keyboard that I normally use on my testbeds wouldn’t respond. I had to find a regular PS/2 keyboard to get into the BIOS and find out that USB keyboard and mouse support are disabled by default, just like on many other mainboards out there.

Although I have to say that USB keyboards usually work in the BIOS on other mainboards, and enabling this support actually means that the keyboard will also work in the interval between POST and OS booting. Unfortunately, even enabling these options didn’t help: the board still didn’t “see” the keyboard. Moreover, take a look at the second part of the parameter name: USB KB / Storage Support. It actually handles not only keyboard, but all other USB devices, such as USB HDD or USB Flash Drive, for instance. In other words, you can’t boot DFI LANPARTY UT NF680i LT SLI-T2R mainboard from a USB Flash Drive: the flash drive and the UAB keyboard only worked in Windows.

Since we came to speak about the USB devices I have to say that the two USB ports marked as USB 5 and 6 didn’t work at all: the USB devices connected to them wouldn’t be recognized, while there were no problems whatsoever with any of the other 4 ports.

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