When you first get the board out of the anti-static bag you are bombarded with…more stickers telling you about the great product that you have in your hand! Obviously the blue heat sinks jump out at you first, emblazoned with “Gigabyte” and “Ultra Durable” on the top. Notice the chromed heat pipe running between the two which adds a very nice touch.
I really like the layout of this board; since this board supports CrossFire X, putting in a pair of dual slot cards is not going to completely wipe out all of your room for upgrades. You would still have a PCI slot and a pair of PCI-E 1x slots. Notice that the SATA ports are out of the way of long video cards. I’m sure most of us know just how frustrating it is having a video card block off 2 or more SATA ports due to a poor layout. I know some of you prefer angled SATA ports, but to me they are frustrating unless you have a case with lots of room. The case, USB, and Firewire headers are all out of the way of a second video card as well!
In this photo you can see that the CPU socket is clear of anything that might get in the way of you and that big heat sink you’re wanting to install. I’ve personally tested it with both a TRUE 120 and a Xigmatek HDT-RS1283 and had no problem with either.
Out back we’ve got a whole slew of USB ports available, in addition to the two expansion headers at the bottom of the board — you get a total of 12! Also nice is the inclusion of S/PDIF in/out for 7.1 Dolby Home Theater HD audio sound. We also see two Firewire A ports: a standard size and a mini. Two Marvel Ethernet adapters are included on the board and can be set up for NIC teaming. Any way you look at it, this board has tons of features packed into a package that will cost you well below $130. X58 motherboards be damned!!