Two things that are an instant fail though: EVGA still insists on soldering the PC speaker to the motherboard (and making children and kittens cry in the process), and there's also only a single BIOS on the board, so no redundancy here.
Overall the layout is really very good, but not perfect - there's plenty of space between the PCI-Express slots for ample graphics card airflow, and there is still at least one PCI-Express x1 and PCI slot spare if you do go for SLI with dual-height cards.
Certain pin-outs might look awkwardly placed, but when you come to use them you'll find they're not actually that bad. EVGA has added a Firewire above the bottom PCI-Express slot where the cables are kept above the second graphics card, and the USB pin-outs are still quite close to the front of the case still.
Unfortunately, you only get an extra pair of USB ports because of the fact that the NF430 southbridge is limited to eight, which lags behind AMD's SB600 (which has ten) and Intel's ICH9/10 (sporting twelve
). So even though the chipset is inherently limiting, EVGA hasn't gone to much extra effort on the feature front - there is the obvious addition of Firewire, but no more SATA ports included and eSATA doesn't feature either. Of the four SATA ports that are
there, they are well orientated at 90 degrees to the motherboard edge so your cables are kept out the way.
On the power front, the entire board gets a complete coating in Nippon Chemicon solid aluminium caps and environmentally sealed chokes for better durability. The complete decking out of these capacitors offers a longer lifetime and even supersedes what the more expensive reference nForce 780i SLI designs offer!
This was all well and good until we noticed the quality of manufacture. This is not something we normally point out because the usual Tier 1 suspects have a phenomenal record of having every capacitor perfectly installed. However on this EVGA board we found the capacitors did not mirror the A1 quality we're used to; instead some were generally not flush with the PCB and some were at odd angles. In addition, we found oceans of thermal paste used on all of the chipsets. While no capacitors were broken or damaged and the chipset didn't overheat, it just reflects the general attention to detail and care taken (or not) during the manufacturing process.
The northbridge gets a couple of power phases, but the memory only gets the basic one phase and the CPU gets a straight six. There's no fancy-ass power saving features here - it's all brute-force manly power with a big heatsink slapped on top! GRRR! EVGA has even gone to the extent of screwing down the heatsinks really tightly
to make sure there's a contact so firm that the pressure could make diamonds. We had to use a pair of pliers to apply extra torque on the screwdriver to get them out!
Overall, while the board features no extra components, sockets or plugs, EVGA has gone to the effort of building something for the core, component-light overclocker.