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How to Choose a Motherboard
And Not Be Sorry Afterwards


PCB layout, mounting, element base, and other fine points

This chapter is probably the most controversial because a regular user shouldn't go into the labyrinth of layout, mounting and elementary base issues. However, I'll provide several most primitive examples of "what's prohibited". The simplest example: point-to-point wiring. It looks like this (see Photo 13). It indicates that the motherboard has a wrong layout and its flaws were corrected with a soldering iron after it came off the assembly line. I think there is no need to explain that the "attractiveness index" of this product slumps very much.

Photo 13. From ITC Online web site. Designers "forgot"
about one of the CPU socket pins on the PCB layout!

The second example is the use of "ancient" elements. I understand the nostalgia of those who are 30 and older, a radio electronics study group, the first transistor radio set soldered on your own... But the XXI century has already come and I cannot trust a manufacturer using elements from the DIY kit. Why? Because it is a sign of austerity. That is no matter what you use, it must be maximum cheap. I don't like manufacturers with such an approach. It's all up to you to decide, though.

Photo 14. The date of youth!... I used to make them myself...
I wonder, can I find KT315 on motherboards? ;)

A great number of elements on the back of a motherboard excite no optimism either. First of all, they are too easy to damage when you install the motherboard into a PC case. Secondly, most manufacturers avoid it and thus I can draw a conclusion that the layout of this motherboard is not well done.

Photo 15. It's nothing but some manufacturers
still manage to avoid it.

And finally, I'll show you one positive sign just to be on a brighter side. It's "reinforcing" a motherboard with a metal plate on the back side in place of the processor and cooler mounting. Considering monstrous modern CPU cooling systems, this step is not at all redundant and it certainly increases the mechanical strength of a motherboard. Besides, this plate serves as a heatsink – we shouldn't forget that not all processor heat is passed to the cooler heatsink, part of it inevitably goes down, to the board.

Photo 16. ASUS lays special stress on cooling, but even reinforcing
a motherboard in this place will not be inappropriate.

Vladimir Rybnikov (puree@ixbt.com)
February 1, 2004


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