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There are two PCI slots but the dual slot card means that again, only one can be used. As mentioned earlier, Evesham has gone with a Creative Fatal1ty X-Fi card, even though there is on board 7.1 channel sound using a Realtek codec. It would have been good if Evesham had blocked these ports off as I initially plugged the speakers into these ports rather than the sound card and wondered why I wasn't getting any sound, a mistake I'm sure a lot of buyers might also make when setting up.
The X-Fi card means that there's no more room for further PCI upgrades. An alternative would have been going for an Aegia Physx card and using the on board sound but as our sister title Bit-Tech has proved here it's still early days for Physx, so you will get a better gaming experience from the system as supplied.
The memory used is Crucial Ballistix DDR2, running at 400MHz. 2GB is installed, with 1GB per DIMM, for dual-channel operation. Two DIMM slots are free. As explained by Spode in our nForce5 first look, nForce5 motherboards sport BIOSs that support EPP memory, a feature that when enabled ensures that memory runs at its tightest timings and automatically optimises the CPU frequency and memory speeds. However this currently is only supported by Corsair RAM, which Evesham hasn't used. Obviously, as the fastest machine we've ever tested it hasn't held the system back too much, but it would have been interesting to have seen what it could do with those optimisations.
In addition the GPU Ex option was not enabled in the BIOS. According to Spode's testing this is an optimisation for SLI that provides a very minor increase in performance. It's not the end of the world that it was off, but it indicates a minor lack of attention to detail.
To power all of these Evesham has sensibly supplied a decent 600W Seasonic that is rated to supply 18A on each rail concurrently, which is important for powerful dual graphics card systems.
Round the back of the system you'll find four USB ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports and both 400Mb/s FireWire a and 800MB/s FireWire b, used on devices such as this external Maxtor drive. At the top of the machine is a plastic protrusion, which contains an 80mm case fan and a hatch, which when clicked pops up to reveal a two USB ports, a FireWire port and a headphone and microphone port.
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