The overall layout of the 775XFire-eSATA2 motherboard was well contemplated by ASRock engineers, as is very evident when looking over the motherboard first hand; however, there are a few possible flaws or rather areas that could be improved upon. To begin the examination, running vertically in the upper right hand corner of the motherboard are two sets of DDR2-533 slots that support a maximum capacity of 2048MB. These orange and yellow memory slots are positioned far enough away from the PCI Express and CPU areas that it should not cause any concern when installing after-market heatsinks or installing memory with the graphics card already in place. On both sides of the system memory slots, the board is relatively free of any components until we move underneath the area, where we are greeted by a single IDE ATA-100 port. Near the IDE port, which is powered by the Intel Southbridge, there is the CMOS battery as well as the clear CMOS jumper and 4MB BIOS chip. Also nearing the BIOS chip and Southbridge are the four SATA 2.0 ports. The Southbridge utilized on the ASRock 775XFire-eSATA2 is Intel's ICH-7R. Among other things, the ICH-7 RAID variant provides support for Intel High Definition Audio, Intel PRO/1000 LAN, Intel Active Management Technology, Intel Matrix Storage Technology, 6 PCI, and 6 PCI Express x1. Of course, not everything supported by the chip is actually integrated into the motherboard, while other areas have been modified from their reference design. While the recently reviewed Tyan Tomcat i7230A S5160 (Mukilteo Chipset) ICH-7R had not required an active or passive cooling solution, ASRock has went with its usual passive heatsink implementation atop the Southbridge. The heatsink is attached to the motherboard PCB in the two opposing corners via pushpin mounting.
Below the ICH-7R, at the bottom of the motherboard, are the system panel header as well as two USB 2.0 headers, and FDD connector. Moving onto the expansion slots, at the rear is a primary PCI Express x16, one PCI Express x1, one AGI Express, and three traditional PCI interfaces. Yes, the ASRock 775XFire-eSATA2 motherboard is able to utilize ATI CrossFire through the main PCI Express slot and the AGI Express interface. Of course, the CrossFire abilities are there; however, they are not officially supported by the Chipset and have simply been forged by ASRock using a PCI Express x16 connection from the Northbridge and a PCI Express x4 signal from the Southbridge, which, as with past products, they have dubbed AGI Express. Bridging the gap between the expansion slots and the end of the motherboard's PCB is the Super I/O controller as well as a PCI LAN controller and audio codec. The I/O controller used is a Winbond W83627EHG-A while the 10/100 LAN controller is a Realtek RTL8101L, and the final ASIC in this area is a Realtek ALC660. Unfortunately, no gigabit networking support has yet managed to make its way on an ASRock product. Above the PCI Express x16 slot is the traditional ATX 20-pin motherboard connector in its usual position for ASRock Intel products, however, accompanying this is a 4-pin molex connector. The molex connector must be connected if two PCI Express graphics cards are installed, as a 20-pin connection is not able to provide enough power, and as ASRock engineers have refrained from using a 24-pin interface. Printed onto the circuit board area is "SLI/XFIRE_PWR1", which is quite interesting to see SLI mentioned as the motherboard simply states support for CrossFire, however, later on in the article we will see if any Scalable Link Interface support truly exists with the 775XFire-eSATA2.