Articles: Mainboards

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PCB Design and Functionality

Foxconn Mars mainboard sits in a protective transparent plastic casing inside the main box of thick carton. After removing all the packaging we could finally see the board in all its beauty:

When I was younger, the most important thing on a mainboard was the jumpers, while the small and unremarkable chipset heatsinks remained out of our focus. Sometimes there were none at all. We started our discussion of the new mainboard features from the jumpers, because setting the sophisticated combinations properly meant the system would actually boot up right. Now things have changed dramatically: there are almost no jumpers on contemporary mainboards, while the chipset cooling systems really stand out and distinguish the board from the whole bunch of other similar products. Original and sophisticatedly shaped chipset heatsinks serve not only their primary purpose of chipset cooling, but are also regarded as decorating and distinguishing elements.

The chipset cooling system on Foxconn Mars mainboard doesn’t boast anything too sophisticated about its design. It uses two heatpipes and is called Cool Pipe.

The first heatpipe transfers the heat from a small heatsink on top of the chipset South Bridge going through the original semi-spherical heatsink on top of the chipset North Bridge.

The second heatpipe starts from the base of a pretty massive North Bridge heatsink and then both heatpipes end in a thin-ribbed MOSFET heatsink.

Six-phase processor voltage regulator circuitry, just like the entire Foxconn Mars mainboard uses extremely popular solid-state capacitors.

There are no electronic components on the bottom of the mainboard PCB in the area below the processor socket that could prevent you from installing any cooling solutions. There is a small plate that helps hold the massive North Bridge cooler in place.

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