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Just like the BadAxe D975XBX2 the layout of the DX38BT is dominated by three PCI Express x16 slots, however the X38 chipset adds PCI Express 2.0 to the equation. The third ‘graphics' slot only supplies four lanes of PCI Express which might come in handy when AMD unleashes CrossFire X or you can use it for a PCI Express sound card. The I/O panel looks very glitzy and modern as it does away with any legacy ports so you can forget about PS/2 for your mouse and keyboard. Instead you get two eSATA ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, one Firewire, Gigabit LAN and a selection of connectors for the HD audio. Unusually this is supplied by a SigmaTel 9247D chip instead of the more usual Realtek or SoundMAX.
Internally you get a single IDE connector and six SATA II connectors with Matrix RAID but there's no floppy connector.
Intel has always been keen to dispense with legacy ports and in this regard it feels as though we are one step behind the trend or that Intel has gone a step too far. We've got no need for a Serial port or a Parallel port and we're absolutely converted to the cause of USB memory keys but we have to draw a line somewhere. It's hard to believe there's no space for a floppy connector on an ATX motherboard and a keyboard PS/2 connector can be a get-out-of-jail card when you hit a problem and need to get into your BIOS settings.
There's a sign of some individual thinking at the foot of the board as Intel supplies a micro button for power but no button for reset. This is the first time we've seen a single button on a motherboard but it proved perfectly adequate during our testing and is something we always welcome.
The layout of the board is very tidy with loads of room around the CPU socket, the power connectors arranged at the edges of the board and the six SATA connectors are lined up in three pairs to allow you to install long graphics cards without any problems.
The BIOS includes a handful of unusual options in the Security section where you can enable or disable XD technology, VT Technology, Intel VT for Directed I/O (VT-d) and Virtual Appliance Operation for VA 3.0. As things stand we don't see any need for virtualisation on the desktop but it's quite possible that view will change during the course of 2008 and 2009 in which case these features may spring to the fore.