Articles: Mainboards
 

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PCB Design and Functionality

Intel DX48BT2 mainboard makes a very good impression. The PCB layout is very well-thought, without any evident drawbacks that immediately catch one’s eye.

The five-phase processor voltage regulator circuitry with wavy heatsinks looks remarkably reliable.

By the way, note that the IDE connector is located in the upper right corner of the mainboard PCB. It is the best place for it these days, closer to the optical drivers, which use it most of the time. However, they had to install an additional Marvell 88SE6121 controller to implement it, so the question is: didn’t they remove IDE support from Intel chipsets too soon? And as for the FDD connector, you will not find one here that is why there was no corresponding cable among the bundled accessories. The board has no LPT and COM ports, no PS/2 connectors for keyboard and mouse, however there are 8 USB ports on the mainboard rear panel. So, looks like I was wrong considering 8 USB ports on Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS4 to be an industry record.

Besides the USA ports, we also see two eSATA ports, one IEEE-1394 port implemented via Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A controller, gigabit (10/100/1000Mbps) network based on Intel 82566DC Gigabit Ethernet controller, and 8-channel sound with Dolby Home Theatre support provided by Sigmatel STAC9274D5 controller.

Intel X48 Express chipset provides this mainboard with two fully-fledged PCI Express 2.0 x16 connectors (blue). The third (black) connector will also accommodate a graphics card, which will work in PCI Express 1.0a mode at x4 maximum speed. You should bear in mind that a graphics card installed into the very first slot will block memory module retention clips.

Besides the already mentioned add-on controllers, there are six Serial ATA ports in the lower part of the PCB, which can be used to build a RAID array thanks to the ICH9R South Bridge. There are two additional USB connectors, an additional IEEE-1394 connector, a configuration jumper, a Power On button, color-coded pin-connectors for the front panel buttons and indicators in the lower part of the mainboard PCB, where they will not obstruct expansion cards installation and can be accessed freely. The good impression made by the Intel DX48BT2 PCB layout is completed with five fan connectors including two 4-pin ones.

 
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