Foxconn 975X7AB-8EKRS2H - Page 4

..:: 975X7AB-8EKRS2H Layout: Northbridge ::..

The 975X7AB-8EKRS2H comes outfitted with an active cooling system for the Northbridge. This heatsink is manufactured out of Aluminum, the typical material used for Northbridge coolers, and is slightly longer in length than width. This cooler is a little larger than your typical Northbridge heatsink, and should offer better cooling given the increased surface area for thermal dissipation. Both the heatsink and the fan follow the usual color scheme, being solid black with only the “Foxconn” namesake on the exterior casing of the fan.

The area to the left of the i975X Northbridge chip is slightly cluttered with a few capacitors and other electrical systems devices. This area houses one of the three-pin fan power connectors for the Northbridge cooler. I was hoping to find another three-pin power connection in this vicinity to provide support for an exhaust fan, but it looks like you’ll need to run power directly from the PSU for this. We also find that this motherboard is ROHS compliant, one of the first retail boards that I’ve worked with to meet this standard.

..:: 975X7AB-8EKRS2H Layout: Expansion Slots ::..

The expansion slot portion of the 975X7AB-8EKRS2H features a dual x16 PCI-Express slots, along with two x1 PCI-Express and regular PCI slots. Given the i975X’s support for 2x8 graphics cards, both of the x16 slots were expected, as they are now the norm of nearly every motherboard to hit the market. This design goes back to a more traditional touch versus the 955X board which housed the PCI-E slots along the bottom portion of the PCB. Given that there are still more PCI devices available than PCI-E x1, this setup allows for breathing room around the graphics card.

The majority of the central IC’s for this portion of the board are, as always, located along the rear edge of the PCB. Along the rear portion of the PCB, we find dual PCI-Express capable Marvell 10/100/1000 Ethernet controller chips. Both of these chips are identical and run off of the PCI-E bus versus the antiquated PCI bus. The move has been to support both chips off of the PCI-Express bus, unlike when PCI-E originally debuted and any board that offered dual LAN ports had one controller on the PCI bus and another on the PCI-E bus. As should be obvious by now, PCI-E is the better option for overall system performance.

In the rear corner, we find the High Definition Audio CODEC that Foxconn has chosen to power the 975X7AB-8EKRS2H, the Realtek ALC882 CODEC. The ALC882 offers features such as full 7.1+2 channel audio support, 24-bit, 192kHz DACs high resolution audio, and also features 32-bit, 96kHz / 192kHz support for both input and output S/PDIF connections. Just below the right hand side of the ALC882 CODEC, we find the black CD audio header. The remaining audio components such as the front panel audio header are along the bottom edge of the PCB in an excellent location that will allow for ease of cable routing as well as cable reach.