The T2RS came in a rather standard size box, nothing over the top like you see on a lot of high end boards. In sticking with the dark theme, it shows off a holographic black finish which really looks quite flash - the pictures here simply don't do it justice. A large emblem on the front and the branding under it let you know what's inside from the second you look at it, but aside from a few stickers advertising some of the board's features, there isn't much more to the design until you reach the back.
The back the box enlightens us on the board's main features and what it supports component-wise. It's worth noting the three highlighted features on the bottom right. Being the 'Plus' version of the board, it has a few extra little tricks up its sleeve to set it apart from its sibling, the plain T2RS.
Opening the box, we're presented with the accessories as well as a guide sheet in both traditional and simplified Chinese, as well as Japanese. Digging through the box, there is plenty to help you get a machine up and running. The full accessory list is shown below:
* IDE Cable
* Floopy Cable
* SATA Cables (Power & Data)
* Crossfire connector
* Quickstart guide
* ABS manual
* Driver CD
* Driver Floopy
Under the accessories, we find a protective card layer keeping the motherboard out of harm's way, and obviously below that is the board itself wrapped up in an anti-static bag. Overall the packaging and accessories you get with the T2RS Plus are pretty standard.
Taking a look over the DK P45 for the first time, I can say that, at least in my opinion, it looks fantastic. The orange and black theme gives it a slightly sinister aura about it, and nothing on the board sticks out like a sore thumb. The back of the board shows us little out of the ordinary. It's noteworthy to see that the northbridge heatsink is bolted on rather than using the traditional push pins.
Starting the tour of the board where it counts the most, the socket area is fairly clutter free. The 4 phase power delivery system is the first concern about the board. With overclockers demanding cleaner, more stable voltages to the CPU, it was a bit of a worry whether the system could keep up with the likes of a Quad Core. For the sub-zero users about, it would be no harder to insulate than any other socket area that uses analogue PWM solutions.
Moving down to the area sporting the DIMM slots, 24 pin power and IDE connectors, there isn't really any clutter here either. A single phase supplies the RAM with the necessary power. The IDE & 24 pin ATX connectors are in pretty much the ideal place. It's noteworthy that DFI has seen fit to move the floppy connector however. This is probably a smart move, as no one really uses them anymore, but the RAID drivers are supplied on a diskette and therefore one may be needed.
Underneath the DIMM slots, we find the ICH10R southbridge that's covered by a small, black aluminium sink. To the immediate right of that are the eight 90° SATA connectors controlled by both the southbridge and JMicron controller. I for one am glad no straight connectors were used, as they have too much of a tendency to pull right off the board when disconnecting cables. Beneath the southbridge chip is the LCD post code display along with the EZ switches and a built-in speaker. Once again, these are all welcome additions and I'm happy to see them on a mid-range board. It means that this board is geared up not only for 24/7 use, but for a testing environment as well. Also in this section, we see two fan headers along with the internal USB and front port I/O headers.
Next on the tour of the board we come to the PCI slot area. Being an ATX board, it makes use of six of the seven possible expansion slots; assumingly the components surrounding the northbridge got in the way of a seventh. But no fear, the board still comes with 2 of the following: PCI-E x1, PCI-E x16 and standard PCI - plenty of room for all but the most card loving among us. We also find our floppy connector located under the slots. As I stated earlier, it's not a massive deal as no-one uses them anymore really, but if you need the raid drivers it could be a hassle if your FDD cable is too short.
Finally we come to the I/O backplate. It's not the busiest of places, but it has everything that I for one would need. The Clear CMOS EZ jumper is a nice touch, but a switch would have been a bit nicer for the back plate. Six 3.5mm jacks and both SPDIF connectors should provide all the audio-out options you could ask of a mid-range board. The lack of Firewire might concern some, but it's another standard that is just not that widely used.
The cooling on the board is a point that interested me. There have been some very elaborate solutions about recently (see the Foxconn Blackops
and Gigabyte P45 Extreme
reviews) and the DFI has nothing but a simple heatsink connected to the two PWM sinks by a single heat pipe. The board's cooling certainly looks good, with the black and chrome working well together. I was happy to see that DFI weren't trying to pass it off as copper. Having worked with P45 boards before, the fact that the heatsink was no monster didn't raise a concern as the northbridge isn't the hottest of chips. As for the southbridge, it probably doesn't even need a heatsink, but DFI added one on anyways.