DFI NFII Ultra Infinity - Page 5

..:: DFI NFII Ultra Infinity Layout Cont. ::..

The southbridge area on the NFII Ultra Infinity is littered with chips and connectors, but DFI does a great job overall with the layout here. The first thing you will probably notice is the aluminum heatsink that is being held to the nForce2 MCP-T southbridge chip. I would hate to see what could happen to the southbridge chip if the thermal adhesive pad were to melt off or if your were to remove the heatsink. The heatsink was scorching hot when the motherboard was in operation and definitely produced the most amount of the heat in the test system.

To the immediate left of the southbridge and heatsink is a blue colored Clear_CMOS jumper. The location of this jumper is our only complaint in the southbridge area. It could be hard to reach when the first PCI slot is filled, or of you have larger fingers, be sure not to push on and damage the small capacitor located directly below the jumper. Remember to let the southbridge heatsink cool off for a bit too. (That's your second warning!)

Below the southbridge chip near the motherboard's battery is a yellow USB 2.0 header, which will allow you to connect two additional USB ports for a total of six available. Gamers will definitely appreciate that DFI has opted in favor of using the Silicon Image Sil3114 SATA RAID chip to load games faster and to secure their data with the latest in hard drive technology. Correct me if I am wrong, but as the publishing date of this review, the NFII Ultra Infinity is the first K7 motherboard that can provide the end user RAID0 or RAID1 setup when using four SATA/150 hard drives, one drive for each connector present. The actual arrangement of the SATA connectors is ideal as all four connectors have been neatly stacked together near the bottom right edge of the board, while the front panel header rests in the corner.

Above the SATA connectors is the motherboard's BIOS chip and the Winbond hardware monitoring chip. The floppy connector is also present here, half-flipped and laying parallel to the right edge of the board. With this design, it allows you to position the surface of the floppy cable directly against the inside plane of the case, and we like it.

The two IDE connectors are located farther up the right edge of the NFII Ultra Infinity as we make our way into the memory area. I like that the white secondary IDE connector is above the blue primary IDE connector, allowing a lesser chance of CD drive and hard drive cables to cross over one another. The order and location of the IDE connectors are in an ideal position, allowing improved air circulation inside the case when bulky IDE cables are attached.

For the best memory performance, you will need to install a matched pair of DIMMS into the two blue memory slots for dual-channel DDR operation. The NFII Ultra Infinity can hold any speed of DDR that equals or is rated faster than the processor's default FSB, but the capacity limit is 3GB of memory when using all three slots.

If you were to take a look at the NFII Ultra Infinity's specifications on the outside of the box by the serial number, your box might have "Dual LAN" listed as our box does, but this is not correct as the actual I/O back panel on the motherboard proves otherwise. The available ports are two PS/2, one serial, one parallel, four USB 2.0, seven types of ports for the integrated audio, and one 10/100 LAN jack.