Foxconn NF4UK8AA-8EKRS - Page 5

..:: NF4UK8AA-8EKRS Layout: Chipset & DIMM ::..

The chipset portion of the NF4UK8AA-8EKRS is quite cluttered full of electrical components, as well as additional components, jumpers, and headers. To start things off, letís begin by examining the portion of the board closets to the PCI slots. Along the bottom portion of the board, we find the three-pin power header for the chipset fan. This header is in a good location, I just wish Foxconn wouldíve used a shorter cable to run from the fan to the connection. The system battery, as well as both of the USB 2.0 headers can be found in this portion of the board as well.

As we progress towards the right edge of the PCB, we find that Foxconn has followed suit with other manufacturers and placed the floppy connector along the bottom edge of the board. I loathe this placement as I know first hand the annoyances of routing a floppy cable around a large caseÖif it is long enough to reach. The front panel header, as well as headers for IRDA devices can be found in the bottom right portion of the board. Foxconn has provided support for chassis intrusion detection as well. A second three-pin fan header can also be found along the bottom of the board, positioned for use with a front intake fan.

Given the unified architecture of the nForce4 chipset, we only have one main IC component rather than separate North and Southbridge chips. The nForce4 chipset is covered by a low-profile aluminum heatsink. The heatsink is actively cooled, and is held down via the typical two-pin spring mechanism. The main problem with this cooler is that users with a long graphics adapter will see some airflow blocked by the tail end of the graphics card. This chipset gets quite warm, so being able to safely implement a larger cooler would definitely be a plus.

Along the right side of the nForce4 chipset are all four of the Serial ATA data connections. These are stacked in a vertical manner, although the orientation is a bit strange. Instead of being in the general 0-3 order from top to bottom, they are oriented in a 1,0 - 3,2 manner. Granted, for one Serial ATA device is really doesnít matter which connection is used, but coming from someone who always starts counting at zero, Iíd personally prefer it the other way around.

Foxconn has oriented the two IDE, floppy, and ATX power connections in a vertical manner along the right edge of the PCB. This will allow for easy connection in both larger and smaller cases. Much like the NF4K8MC-ERS, the NF4UK8AA-8EKRS utilizes one of the new 24-pin variety connectors for the ATX power cable. As with the Intel motherboards, a standard 20-pin power supply can be used with no problems, so long as it is connected as stated in the manual with the bottom four pins left open.

Finally, we come across the DIMM slots. Here, we see that Foxconn has not opted to go with the usual four DIMM setup. For single channel mode, two of the opposite colored DIMMís can be filled, however for dual channel mode both of the same color should be filled with matched DIMMís.

As far as the general layout and design of the NF4UK8AA-8EKRS goes, Iíd have to say that Foxconn has done a good job. They eliminated any possible problems with loading and unloading RAM by placing the x1 PCI-E connectors above the x16. The heatsink on the nForce4 chipset could provide some better cooling, but in the case of elongated graphics cards this becomes impossible as the card will end up overlapping the heatsink. The main problem with the board is the floppy connector location. Granted the floppy isnít used all that much, but itís still an annoyance to have to spend more time routing a floppy cable than all other wires.