MSI 845 Ultra-AR - Page 3

..:: Layout: Socket Area ::..

Much unlike the last motherboard I had the pleasure of reviewing, Soltekís SL-75DRV4, the MSI 845 Ultra-AR has a rather nice layout. This board features zero DIP Switch blocks, and only three jumpers that will more than likely never need adjusting! The area around the Socket 478 is very clean, much due to Intelís implementation of their HSF retention system. The black mounting unit for HSFís came pre-installed unlike has been seen on several other motherboards. This can be good and bad, depending on which cooler you use. If you use the Alpha PAL8492 for example, youíll first have to remove the pre-mounted unit, and then install the HSF unit.

If you take a look towards the top right corner of the retention mechanism, youíll come across the CPU Fan three-pin power connector. Although it is placed rather close to the mounting unit and has a small capacitor to its side, it should be easily accessible if a fan switch is ever needed. There are also two smaller voltage regulators, and two other fair sized capacitors that run along the right hand side of the socket area.

The left hand side of the socket holds the majority of the larger electrical components. Here we come across the several voltage regulators that make up the 845 Ultra-ARís three-phase power system. Some manufacturers have even begun to implement a four-phase power solution on their motherboards. The voltage regulators and capacitors are all neatly lined up down the side of the socket area, while a few capacitors wrap around the bottom of the retention mechanism. I must say I would love to see AMD implement a heatsink mounting system such as Intel has with their future processors. It would help to solve many of the problems we see nowadays with capacitors being too close to the socket and such. Anyhow, thatís enough of that tangent. Situated below the last pair of voltage regulators is the ATX 12V power connector. This connector comes on only certain power supplies that are made for Pentium IV systems, so if you plan on upgrading make sure to check your power supply for proper cabling! I would much prefer to see this connector placed along the top of the board for convenience and to help cable cleanliness inside the system.