Gigabyte X38-DQ6: Layout
The Gigabyte X38-DQ6 has a wide array of integrated peripherals, so the board is packed with a number of additional controllers and connectors. Despite the relative complexity of the board, however, Gigabyte did a nice job with its layout and overall design.
As you can see, the X38-DQ6 is built upon Gigabyte's signature blue PCB and all of its slots, headers, and connectors are color-coded for easy installation. The board's slot configuration consists of two physical PCI Express x16 slots (x16 / x16), three PCI Express x1 slots, and a pair of PCI slot. This is a very good slot configuration that'll allow users to run two, double-wide video cards in SLI mode, while still giving them access to two additional PCI Express slots and a PCI slot.
All of the X38 Express chipset's inherent features are exploited on this board, so there is a wealth of USB and SATA connectors available (which support various RAID modes), but not all of the SATA ports are linked via a single controller. The 6 main ports are powered by the ICH9R chipset and support multiple RAID modes, but the purple ports along the bottom edge come by way of a pair of individual controllers. We should not that arrays can't be built across them; individually they do support RAID, however.
In general, all of the X38-DQ6's various connectors are situated around the edge of the PCB, which helps with internal cable management. Like a few of Gigabyte's previous high-end offerings, the X38-DQ6 has an intricate cooling apparatus affixed to this board. The chipset and voltage regulators are all adorned with high-quality copper heatsinks, linked together via a heat-pipe system. Additionally, on the underside of the board, you'll find two more heatsinks situated underneath the CPU socket / Northbridge area and Southbridge. This is an excellent cooling scheme in our opinion, and it did a great job throughout testing. We should also note that this board features a 12-phase power array, which results in more stable power and lower operating temps. The 12-phase array is actually touted as a quad-triple phase array, which make it fit in with Gigabyte's DQ6, 6-Quad theme (Quad Core Ready, Quad Cooling, Quad Triple Phase Power, Quad eSATA, Quad BIOS, and Quad DDR2 slots).
As we continue our tour around the X38-DQ6, you may notice that this board is equipped with nothing but solid capacitors; no electrolytic caps are to be found. This should help with the board's longevity as there no chance of a leaky cap.
The I/O backplane is home it a great assortment of connectors. Along with PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports you'll find, optical and analog audio ports, a single mini-Firewire port and a standard Firewire port, an excellent 8 USB 2.0 ports, and dual Gigabit Ethernet LAN jacks. The Firewire ports come courtesy of a TI controller, the two GigE LAN ports are powered by a Realtek controller, and audio functionality come by way of Realtek's ALC889 HD codec.