You may also notice the crazy "reversed" CPU and memory layout too, but if you think about it, it's actually better considering the CPU is now closer to the power plugs so there is less EMF interference that would normally go past the memory traces on different PCB layers. If you use a huge
CPU heatsink you may have installation issues caused by the memory slots or the voltage regulator heatsinks which are quite close. Nine out of ten times though there shouldn't be an issue.
DFI include not only two full speed PCI-Express x16 slots from the NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI chipset, but the motherboard engineers included PCI-Express x4 and x8 slots as well. These are, of course, backwardly compatible to x2 and x1, but neither are open ended (although that nothing a dremel can't fix) to take larger cards. Interestingly DFI's engineers also catered for PCI users by including three
PCI slots on the board!
The great thing is that two of these are still usable if you've installed a pair of dual slot PCI-Express x16 graphics cards for SLI. This is fantastic news and (hopefully) shows that DFI is listening to consumers concerns about disappearing PCI slots, enabling the wealth of still perfectly useful PCI cards (that are not available on PCI-Express x1) to still be used in multitude.
The dual PHY Gigabit internet from Vitesse is directly piped into the southbridge and thus provides better networking because of lower overheads. However, DFI hasn't included a WiFi module, although there are enough PCI slots to make up for that. NVIDIA's nForce 590 SLI chipset includes the capability for TCP/IP overhead offloading from the CPU, as well as using both Gigabit connectors in a team together to a switch to provide either a double speed 2Gbps link or mission critical redundancy should one network adapter fail.
All of the pin outs are readily accessible for Firewire, USB and front panel, and are also colour co-ordinated for ease of identification, but not in such a way that goes against the theme; the USB 2.0 pins are still yellow and the Firewire, grey, which blends into the main PCB colour. Only one fan port is poorly placed between the PCI-Express ports slap bang in the middle of the board.
Don't get confused though; that 4 pin header above the top x16 slot isn't a fan header: it's for additional power from a floppy connector. It's very easy to confuse the two, and whilst it is
space saving it should be a standard molex plug considering floppy connectors starting to get rarer on new PSUs. Consider that you'll only get one or two floppy connectors on a PSU and you have
to use those connectors rather than the six-eight molex connectors available. This means cable organisation choice is restricted unless you find an adapter.
The southbridges' native SATA ports are innovatively placed 90 degrees to the board which means no more getting in the way of cards and other plugs, or accidentally breaking them off. However, using a SATA cable with the new metal clip on doesn't really work: it pushes the plastic up and gets stuck or takes some plastic out with it. You have to use the ones provided by DFI or some real old school ones without the new retention clips. The problem is, most people have upgraded to the new type and DFI only provides four of its own SATA cables in the box.
The floppy port is also 90 degree but strangely the IDE port isn't. There are also two extra (normal) SATA ports provided by the Silicon Image Si3132 controller near the top of the board, and while they are quite close to the CPU area they're close enough to the edge of the board to be easily accessible.
Finally, there are also onboard power and reset switches for those who like to do desktop testing and tweaking (like we do), as well as an LED hex readout to decrypt boot problems easily (with reference to the manual).