Articles: Mainboards

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PCB Design and Functionality

It would be totally incorrect to say “if you saw one Elitegroup mainboard, you saw them all”, but there are still some distinguishing features typical of the solutions by this manufacturer:

Let’s start our discussion with the four-phase processor voltage regulator circuitry that uses solid-state capacitors – more advanced components than their giant predecessors that you can see in the background. The mainboard was manufactured with capacitors from different manufacturers: green ones from Sanyo, black ones from G-Luxon, brown ones from some unknown maker.

The mainboard features a four-pin ATX12V power supply connector instead of an eight-pin one, which we would consider a drawback for a mainboard that supports all LGA775 processors, including quad-core ones.

In case of a dual graphics card configuration you should use the connector close-by for additional power supply, however, the SLI implementation on this board is not that flawless altogether. Firstly, PCI Express x16 slots are located unusually close to one another that may prevent you from using large graphics card coolers and hinder cooling of dual-slot systems entirely. Moreover, there is no PCIE Lane Converter card typical of other Nvidia nForce 650i SLI based mainboards. The chipset features limited number of available PCI Express lanes compared with the nForce 680i SLI, and the converter card serves to switch between the operational modes of the PCI-E x16 slots. If there is only one graphics card in the system, the first slot works at its full speed of 16x (and the second one gets disabled). However, if there are twp graphics cards in SLI mode, then you use the converter card to set them both to work at 8x speed. Since there is no converter card at all, even a single graphics card on ECS NF650iSLIT-A will always work at 8x speed.

The funny thing is that this peculiarity, or drawback to be more exact, of ECS NF650iSLIT-A mainboard is listed on the reverse side of the package among other mainboard features, such as 8-channel sound and Gigabit network. This peculiarity even has a name of its own: PCI Express Lite. This name gave me an immediate positive association with light cigarettes containing less nicotine, low-fat butter, alcohol-free beer, diet foods… It is an excellent marketing move: “Are you still using heavy full-speed PCI Express x16? Why don’t you try our fast and easy PCI Express Lite!” :) However, we will discuss the performance and actual speed measurements later on in this article, and now let’s continue our investigation of ECS NF650iSLIT-A features.

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