The board has good layout with plenty of space around the CPU socket. Both the DDR2 memory slots and northbridge are sufficiently far enough away from the socket not to interfere with large heatsinks. However, the positioning of the 4-pin ATX 12V plug could lead to some cable routing issues.
Having an exhaust fan over the rear I/O panel (ECS' Cooling accelerator
) is more of a non-feature feature than a feature, considering that there are no heatsinks on the voltage regulation components to take advantage of it. In addition, the fact that it's a 50mm fan that moves a small amount of air compared to the 80 or 120mm fan mounts found in most good cases makes it even more of a non-feature feature.
The extra IDE port is definitely welcome, and indicates the market that ECS is aiming this board at: those who want to upgrade to ATI's latest multi-GPU platform and AMD's new CPU socket, but still use more than one IDE DVD drive and also have IDE hard drives in their storage array. However, the SB600-powered IDE connector is weirdly placed at 90-degree angle to the edge of the board. ECS should really have swapped it with the floppy connector.
After all, who uses a floppy for any length of time? As soon as you've used it to install SATA drivers for Windows - if you needed to - it is unplugged and popped back in the drawer.
There are more than enough SATA 3Gbps ports for most people, all of which can be used even when a pair of full-length graphics cards are installed. If you're considering Radeon X1900 CrossFire, you will lose the PCI-Express x1 slot and one of the two PCI slots. This leaves you with a single PCI slot for any other add-in cards you might need. That makes choice limiting unless you upgrade the cooling solutions.