Intel D845PEBT2 - Page 5

..:: Layout: Southbridge & Memory Area ::..

The bottom right hand corner of the PEBT2 is one of the more cluttered areas of the motherboard, although it is still very organized in layout. The primary and secondary SATA connectors are placed in a north to south orientation on the bottom edge of the board. Above the secondary SATA connector, we come across two items, one being a 25MHz clock crystal, and the other being the Silicon Image SATALink Sil 3112 chip that provides the SATA support. If we take a look towards the lower left corner of the SATALink Sil 3112 chip, weíll come across the solder points for the two onboard IEEE 1394a headers that come as an option for the PEBT2. Each of these headers and connectors are placed very well along the bottom of the board. Youíll easily be able to route your cables around the case so as to not interfere with airflow or cause any excess cable entanglement as can be possible if these headers were to be placed higher on the board.

As we move back up the board, weíll next come across another series of headers, along with the third and final three-pin power connector. This white power connector is located towards the right edge of the board and allows for connection of the front case fan for cool air intake. To the left of this power connector, we come across the front panel header. This is where you will connect your LEDís, power button cables, reset button cables, and other items. If we take a look above the power connector, we come across the black system ďbeeperĒ as I like to call it, better known as the system speaker. The remaining two items in this row are farther to the left of the front panel header. These two remaining items consist of the system battery, and the onboard USB header. As we noted in the package portion of the review, Intel includes a rear expansion bracket with two USB 2.0 ports. If you so choose to utilize this bracket, then this header is where youíll need to plug in the cable connector.

The area around the ICH4 Southbridge is fairly clean considering the compact space it is held in. As we are used to with Intel motherboards, the Southbridge is located rather high on the right side of the board compared to what we would usually see with an AMD based motherboard. The last remaining items of importance are placed to the right of the ICH Southbridge. Here we come across various headers that allow support for items such as a chassis intrusion warning header, a unique feature I havenít seen on any other motherboards to date, a SCSI hard drive activity LED connector, the BIOS jumper configuration block, and lastly, the Intel BIOS chip itself. The SCSI hard drive activity LED connector is located directly above the system speaker, and the BIOS configuration block is in turn located directly above the SCSI LED connector.

The memory DIMMís themselves pose two issues. First of all, Intel has chosen to equip the PEBT2 with only two DIMMís instead of the usual three we are used to seeing with other mainboard manufacturers. Granted, this will allow for a good amount of RAM to be installed, however those of us with more than two sticks of RAM will surely prefer to see three DIMMís instead of two. The other main issue I have with the DIMMís are that you cannot install or remove RAM when the graphics card is mounted. This can make it a bit annoying for those wanting to quickly add some RAM, and instead have to pull out the screwdriver, remove the graphics card, then install the RAM and reinstall the graphics card back into the system. The IDE and Floppy connectors are located to the immediate right of the DIMM slots and are ideally positoned. The black IDE connector is the primary one, while the white connector is the secondary one. We also come across the 12V ATX power connector which is in the most ideal position possible if you ask me. Itís nice to see the designers at Intel taking airflow into account when working with these high performance boards. The last item we come across is in the top right corner of the board. Here we come across the SMSC LPC47M172-NR I/O Controller.

Overall, the Intel D845PEBT2 comes along with one of the best layouts I have seen. Everything on the board is arranged in a very clean manner, although as usual we did come across a few items of concern to us. The first item was the positioning of the CPU fan connector which is sandwiched in between the DIMMís and the processor socket areas. This could quite possibly be a pain to get to if ever needed in a confined system. In a system with a large case it would make things much easier. The second item of concern was the fact that the PEBT2 only utilizes two DIMMís instead of the three that we are accustomed to seeing. These DIMMís also interfere with mounting or removing any RAM while the graphics card is mounted. Once again, Iím elated about the positioning of the 12V ATX power connector. Enough with the layout, letís get on to one of the more interesting items with the PEBT2, the BIOS.