Chaintech VNF4 Zenith VE - Page 3

..:: VNF4 Zenith VE Layout: CPU ::..

From an overhead perspective, we find that Chaintech has opted to go with a rather unique motherboard component layout. We all know and love the typical ATX layout with the processor socket along the top edge of the PCB, and the DIMM slots oriented vertically along the right side of the processor socket. Chaintech has opted to place the Socket 939 in a more central location on the PCB, while the DIMM slots are moved to the top portion of the board. This leads to some issues, but also brings out some positive effects as well. Letís see exactly what those are.

The Socket 939 has been oriented lengthwise from North to South across the motherboard, while the retention mechanism is found in the opposite orientation, East to West. This is the standard retention mechanism that can be found on nearly all Socket 939 motherboards. Like other, Chaintech has attached a large back plate to the rear of the PCB to prevent flexing, as well as to give the heatsink support while itís mounted. This back plate is affixed to the PCB surface and should provide more than ample stability for heavy heatsink units.

The components that make up the bulk of the processor portion of VNF4 Zenith VE deal with the core voltage supply, although due to the Socket 939 orientation, we also find some other components we normally wouldnít. Along the right hand side of the processor socket, we find two three-pin fan power headers, along with both the primary and secondary IDE ports. Chaintech has only allowed support for the more common three-pin fans, versus the four-pin variety with RPM control.

The left hand side of the processor socket, as well as a portion along the bottom edge of the retention mechanism, houses all of the typical electrical items that can be found on every other motherboard on the market. Here, we see a large grouping of ultra-low ESR 3300uF capacitors. There are three toroidal inductors, as one would expect with a three-phase power supply design.

The first major change due to the design of the VNF4 Zenith VE is also found here. Chaintech has moved the main 12V ATX connector to the rear of the PCB, as was seen on older motherboards rather often. This is far from my favorite location for this connector as those will less cable routing skills will end up disrupting airflow over the CPU, out of the chassis, or both.

The area below the Socket 939 is packed with electrical components that make up the PCI-Express core voltage supply, as well as for the chipset VCore. Due to the compacted design, Chaintech has had to move all of these components into a more central location, the question we now have is whether or not these will pose any problems with mounting PCI-E or PCI devices. Letís move on and find out.