Biostar TP35D3-A7 Deluxe Preview - Page 4

..:: Layout - Northbridge Area ::..

The TP35D3-A7 Deluxe P35 Northbridge comes outfitted with a passive copper heatsink coupled via heatpipe into the motherboardís cooling system. The heatsink, as with the rest of the cooling system, appears to be made of high quality materials. The heatsink itself is rather bulky and the decorative cover wonít help with airflow over the chipset, so itís up to the heatpipe to do its job. Iíd prefer to see a small fan coupled with this Northbridge, or at least see the decorative cap removed to assist in airflow.

The area to the left of the P35 Northbridge chip is slightly cluttered with a few capacitors and other electrical devices. This area houses one of the three-pin fan power connectors for a rear exhaust fan, along with a four-pin Molex power header for auxiliary PCI-E power support. Other than these few items, the only other item of importance in the area is the silkscreened name and version of the board.

..:: Layout - Expansion Area ::..

The expansion slot portion of the TP35D3-A7 Deluxe features a single x16 PCI-Express slot, along with three x1 PCI-Express and two regular PCI slots. This design goes back to a more traditional LGA775 setup before the days of Corssfire or SLI. As was mentioned prior, Biostar has placed the x16 slot second in line from the top allowing for RAM swaps without removing the graphics adapter. Thereís just enough room to get it done, but enough is all anyone needs in this case.

The majority of the central ICís for this portion of the board are, as always, located along the edge of the PCB. Along this 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 for a while now 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.

In the rear corner, we find the High Definition Audio CODEC that Biostar has chosen to power the TP35D3-A7 Deluxe, the Realtek ALC888. Just below the right hand side of the ALC888 CODEC, we find several audio related headers for both the rear S/PDIF expansion bracket as well as the more traditional CD audio cables. Biostar also has chosen to place the front panel header for audio in the rear corner. Iíd prefer to see this a bit farther forward on the board, but at least it isnít sandwiched in-between PCI slows as weíve seen in the past.