Front header connectors are located at the bottom left corner of the motherboard which is the normal location for most motherboards. They are color coded so you can easily see what to connect. Two more USB headers are to the left of the front header connectors while one Firewire connector sits above those. For the most part, all your connections are sitting on the outer edge of the motherboard giving you easy access to them and not interfering with internal expansion cards.
The back panel gives you a nice selection of connection options. Since this motherboard has onboard video, the VGA and DVI connectors replace the serial and parallel port connectors. Like the floppy, I think the serial and parallel connectors are almost obsolete so this omission isn't a big deal. An optical S/PDIF in and out sits to the left of the DVI connector giving you two digital connections to connect to your home receiver or computer speaker setup with optical connections. PS/2 connectors for the mouse and keyboard sit to the left of those. Should you need 1/8" plugs for your audio setup, the traditional six plug jack sensing connector sits to the right of the video connectors allowing you to connect up to 7.1 speaker setups using multiple 1/8" plugs. Finally, four USB 2.0 ports, 1 Firewire port, and a Gigabit Ethernet connector round out the back panel. the NF-M2 nView also includes an extra bracket two additional USB plugs and two Firewire connectors of the two connecting standards.
If you want to overclock, the NF-M2 nView has plenty of overclocking features in the BIOS. Below are some pictures of the BIOS overclocking options and you can see abit has provided a lot of options for you to fiddle with.
About the only thing missing on this motherboard that I would've loved to have seen would be their uGuru technology. My main machine uses an abit board with uGuru and it's one of the best features from them. That's not to say you can't monitor a few of the temperatures and fans but there's a few things that uGuru offers that I really come to appreciate. From a high level view, the NF-M2 nView board has all the necessary tools to make it a great HTPC motherboard and there are plenty of overclocking options for those looking for a mATX enthusiast board perhaps for a LAN computer. On paper, this HTPC motherboard would also do well as a main motherboard provided you didn't need a lot of expansion room and SLI or Crossfire setup.
For comparisons sake, I have the ECS KA3 MVP motherboard which is also a socket AM2 motherboard. Seeing as the AMD processors have the memory controller on the chip, I don't forsee much deviation from those scores using the same components.
The test setup consisted of:
- AMD64 X2 3800+
- ATI All-in-Wonder X1900
- 2 GIG Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 (2 sticks of 1GB each)
- Seagate 160GIG 7200RPM HDD
- Windows XP w/ Service Pack 2
- Catalyst 6.7 drivers
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