Intel D865PERL - Page 3

..:: D865PERL “Rock Lake” Layout: Northbridge Area ::..

The Intel i82865PE Northbridge is covered by a sizeable aluminum heatsink with no available active cooling. In case you’re wondering the measurements of this unit, it measures two inches x two inches. This heatsink offers 175% of the typical i845PE heatsink contact surface area! In our tests, this heatsink failed to become as warm as what we noticed with the i875P’s heatsink, of course given the size of the heatsink I think it’s fair to say it could easily handle any burden the i82865PE could dish out. The heatsink itself is equipped with an array of 144 vertical “pins” that are roughly one and a half inches tall. The i82865PE Northbridge is located in close proximity to the processor socket with the heatsink coming within around a quarter inch of the CPU retention mechanism. The same can be said for the distance between the AGP slot and the unit.

Off to the left of the i82865PE Northbridge we come across the system’s voltage regulation chip/s. This item is of primary interest to overclockers as many may choose to volt mod the board to allow for a higher voltage to be sent to the processor. However, considering this is after all an Intel brand motherboard with only limited overclocking capabilities, I doubt anyone will be attempting to do so anytime soon. For those interested, Intel is using an Analog Devices ADP3168 6-Bit Programmable 2-4 Phase Buck Controller. This BC allows selectable voltages ranging from 0.8375V to 1.6V, active current balancing on all output phases, and on-the-fly VID code changes. This area of the board is also home to the four-pin ATX 12V power connector, along with a third three-pin power connector for a rear system case fan.

..::D865PERL “Rock Lake” Layout: Expansion Slots ::..

The next stop on our trip around the D865PERL is the expansion slot area. The expansion slot setup will do a nice job of pleasing enthusiasts with one AGP 4x/8x slot, and the chipset maximum of five PCI slots. The AGP slot has a built in retention mechanism similar to those we have seen on other Intel boards. When you mount your graphics card, it pushes a small tab down which has a small plastic protrusion that holds the graphics card in place. If you ever choose to remove the graphics card, you simply push down slightly on the tab to disengage it and remove the card. One problem that comes about is that with the placing of the AGP connector, the user will have to install the RAM before installing the graphics adapter. Another minor issue is that there is a small capacitor below the retention clip and when you go to unlock the graphics adapter, you must be very careful not to put too much pressure on the end of you could easily end up bending the capacitor too much. This is more a problem for those whom are constantly swapping cards in and out such as myself, but it is an item of note.

If you take a look below the rear I/O ports along the left hand edge of the motherboard, we come across the chip that have previously spent a good deal of time going over, the 82547EI Gigabit Ethernet Controller. As we can also see, there is a 25.000MHz clock crystal positioned above the 82547EI Gigabit Ethernet Controller. Unlike what we saw with the D875PBZ, the D865PERL does indeed feature built in audio as this board is geared more towards the high end consumer rather than a workstation environment. The rear I/O panel features several audio connections for digital audio in and out, along with five separate mini-plugs for your speaker connections. The remaining area below and around the 82547EI Gigabit Ethernet Controller is extremely clean with only a few resistors being the largest items of note.

As we progress further down the PCB, we next come across the main hardware that powers the onboard audio for the D865PERL. The header that is outfitted with two dark blue jumpers is for front panel audio connections. I much prefer this location than I have seen on other motherboards where this header is located higher up on the board. If a user plans on utilizing front panel audio ports, which are usually mounted along the bottom edge of the case, why would the header for the connection be placed high up in the rear of the system? Intel places this header much closer to the audio codec and is much lower like we want. The next item is, of course, the Analog Devices AD1985 audio codec. This codec brings forth support for several unique features which I will discuss further in a few pages.

The last items of note in the expansion slot area are located along the bottom edge of the board under PCI slot five. Here we find the two black and grey audio headers for a CD audio connection, and an Auxiliary audio connection. This area also houses the Agere IEEE1394a PHY which gives the D865PERL its FireWire support. There is one FireWire port that is located on the rear I/O panel, and the two light blue headers that can be seen in the image above allow for further expansion of FireWire ports if so desired.