Joined on 04/12/07
great board.. with some minor irritations
Pros: Great chipset. Support for dual E5500 series CPUs is wonderful (I've got 2 E5520s), lots of room for memory (I've got 12G of Kingston Model KVR1066D3S4R7SK3/6GI240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM, which is ECC Registered DDR3 1066). With everything switched on, including the GeForce 7600GS video card I added, 2x 1T Samsung Spinpoint F1 drives, and an Intel X25-E, I'm typically drawing around 165W... not bad for a machine of this class. Overall, I'm very happy with this board, and with the machine I built on top of it -- the thing flies like nothing I've ever owned before. Wow.
Cons: If you plan on creating a machine for your office, rather than a server room, you've got a bit of a project on your hands... for now at least. I wanted this thing to be quiet, so I needed big slower moving fans... yet there aren't too many options available for SSI EEB form factor boards like this one. Finally, I settled on an Antec Titan 650 ExtendATX case. There were 2 issues: the built-in Antec TP3-650 power supply didn't have dual 8-pin EPS12V connectors, just a single one, forcing me to use an Athena Power 6" EPS-12V 8-pin Y-splitter Power Cable Model CABLE-YEPS828.... which wasn't quite long enough... so I had to perform surgery and extend 1 arm of the Y by a few inches by splicing in some extra 18 guage molex wire & electrical taping it up. Note: 18 gauge molex wire is rated for 5Amps. 2 cpus 80w*2/12V= 13.3A. 13.3A / 4 wires = 3.3Amps per wire < 5 Amp rating == wires in stem of Y looks ok. Each rail is 19A so PSU is ok also (13.3A 70% of 19A 12V PSU rail).
Overall Review: Finding nice quiet CPU cooler was also a bit tricky, because many of the ones that modders/overclockers use are too big (given the geometry of this dual cpu layout), and most of the others use push-pins, rather than screws for attaching to the motherboard (and this board uses M3 screws). There wasn't anything out there when I bought this board, but the Zero Therm Core92 was close. It fit & was well reviewed, but used push-pins. I ended up yanking the pins off the coolers & rigging up my own spring-loaded M3 screw mount with some washers & stiff coils from a hardware store. This was surprisingly easy to do & worked out well... but probably not something that all people would be comfortable doing. The "minor irritations" I experienced were mostly due to the way I'm using it -- as a quiet in-the-office setting, rather than being allowed to scream in a server room. Still, it would be great if hardware vendors would coordinate power & cooling better.
A useful splitter, but arms should be longer
Pros: Solves a nasty problem -- currently, it's hard to get a power supply that isn't huge, yet has dual 8-pin EPS-12V. My specific issue was a TYAN S7010 motherboard. I had an Antec Titan case with a built-in TruePower Trio 650W power supply (which only has a single 8 pin EPS-12V). The alternative was to get a power supply that was way too big for my needs (plus it was another $109). This splitter was a cheaper & easier solution.
Cons: The length of the arms of the "Y" was too short for my motherboard. I ended up getting some 18 gauge molex wire & electrical tape, and spliced in a few more inches. I would have given this product 5-eggs if I didn't need to do that (or if Athena made another version of the same product with longer arms).
Overall Review: Here's how I figured out that my splice job was a safe thing to do: 18 guage molex is rated at 5Amps. I've got dual Xeon E5520 cpus with a thermal design power of 80w. Given: 80W * 2/12V= 13.33A, and TPW is usually 20%-30% peak, we're talking at most 17.33A peak (13.33A * 1.3 = 17.33A). Each limb of the Y is made out of 4 strands of 18 guage molex wire, so that's 4.33 A / wire, which is still below the conservative 5A/wire rating. Each rail of the PSU is 19A, so that worked out too. The extra voltage drop was tiny -- not a problem.