Chaintech A865PE - Page 4

..:: A865PE Layout: Northbridge Area ::..

The i865PE Northbridge is covered by a gorgeous, golden heatsink unit equipped with a unique top “cover” that is cutout to appear as if it were for a fan. This gold look, when combined with the black PCB, creates a stunning effect. This heatsink is held down to the i865PE Northbridge core by two hooks. This type of hold-down mechanism was popular on some of the earlier i845 chipset motherboards, although as of late we have been seeing this type of implementation used more often. This method creates a large amount of force to ensure good contact between the heatsink and the core for optimum thermal transfer. Throughout our testing, we found that this heatsink was more than capable of keeping the chip cool, even under heavy FSB overclocking and system use.

As we progress towards the rear of the motherboard, we next find a cluster of mostly electrical components for the core voltage power supply. The main item located in this general area is the secondary 12V core voltage power connection. In the top left corner, we find a solenoid shaped inductor for the input power. As with all inductors, there is also a capacitor to go along with it, just to the right. Along the rear I/O panel, we find a black jumper that controls whether or not to enable the A865PE’s Wake-On-USB option. Remember, to properly use this feature, there are usually some power supply 5V rail specifications that your system must meet.

..:: A865PE Layout: Expansion Area ::..

The A865PE features the typical expansion slot setup that is commonly seen on just about every ATX motherboard on the market with a single AGP4X/8X slot, and five PCI 2.3 compliant slots. One unique factor is the CMR slot, which Chaintech uses to power the additional MIDI and sound ports provided via the included expansion card. The AGP slot for the A865PE is the usual brown color, and is equipped with the usual locking mechanism. Just above and below the locking clip, we find silk-screening for the external frequency jumper set. As you can see, there are jumper options for each of the Pentium 4 FSB specifications. Each of these settings can still be adjusted via the BIOS as well, but these jumpers are meant more for OEM type implementations.

The expansion area of the A865PE is remarkably clean in comparison to what we are accustomed to seeing. There are really only a few important items located in this area of the board, as most that would normally be found here have been shifted towards the Southbridge. The first core item that we find is the Realtek RTL8100C 10/100 Ethernet controller chip. Given that the A865PE motherboard is meant for mid-range users, it can be forgiven that Chaintech has not chosen to include an option for Gigabit Ethernet support. Granted, most users can never come remotely close to obtaining Gigabit level speeds, but it still has become a well know, and expected feature for high end solutions. Chaintech is able to lower the cost of the A865PE by going for a cheaper, yet still reliable solution for Ethernet support.

The next item is the C-Media CMI9739A AC 97’ CODEC. This CODEC has been around for some time, and allows for some nice integrated audio quality, as well as S/PDIF support. This CODEC is capable of supporting up to six audio channels, and the included software to control the built-in equalizer, among many other features, is simple and easy to use. Along the right hand side of the CMR slot, we find the remaining items for the expansion slot portion of the A865PE, the ITE I/O controller, as well as the front panel audio header. I have always taken a liking to this type of location for the audio header as it allows for cabling to be run along the bottom of the chassis, thereby avoiding airflow problems that could arise should it be elsewhere.