The motherboard is laid out as most; nothing drastically deviates from what we see in most products.The board is both SLI and Crossfire ready if high end gaming is your style. Installing add-on cards in the lowest PCI-e x4 slot may be troubling as there are a several headers that could get in the way: USB, front panel audio, and fan control. Front panel audio and USB is commonplace on cases today, so this is not a small feature to lose out on. Gigabyte color coded the case connection pins, but this relies on the case being setup to accomodate them, which is a gamble, but the headers are neatly printed below the pins (did we say earlier we'd have loved to see a front panel adapter?). Side-facing ports are great for cable management, however, be aware that in a smaller case (some mid towers and below) the hard drive rack or even the front portion of the case could make access to these ports extremely difficult, but this is the typical arrangement of today's motherboards, so there isn't much to be done about that.
There is an on-board CMOS reset switch, so its easy to flush out bad settings from an OC attempt that went awry or if you build won't POST. To add to that feature, there are a few LEDs on the motherboard that can help diagnose a computer that won't boot. Unfortunately the BIOS chip itself is non-removable, so if it goes bad out of warranty, the entire board will need to be replaced. A large power button and a smaller companion reset button allows power-on without having the case headers connected. The right picture above shows the mSATA slot, which can be used for space-saving SSD memory or peripherals, which we'll likely see more relevant in the coming year or so as these devices drop in price and become more accessible. The CMOS battery is in a bit of an awkward position, and is difficult to access when a large heatsink is installed.
The all-black DIMM slots look very nice, but do make for a bit of confusion about whether or not the DIMMs should be placed in a typical arrangement. Gigabyte has updated other board models to have a grey/black color scheme to reassure users who don't read the manual (most of us don't) that the sticks should be installed in a typical every-other dual-channel arrangement.
The 4+4 CPU power connector is in a predictable location at the top of the motherboard, placed where most cases have a small cable management hole. The distance is further from the CPU socket than many other boards, which leads to slight power losses, but is generally easier to trace on the PCB since it's a cluttered area for circuitry. The blue accent on the heatsink adds a nice touch, and there is a lot of room to work around the socket itself. The CPU fan header is located at the top of the picture, which is great for access. In these days, however, it is not uncommon to see more than one fan on a cooler, and with this motherboard you will have to route that fan to a different plug since there is only one header available for the CPU. Along that same line, only 4 additional fan headers might have you feeling a bit strapped for fan space, with most cases including, at a minimum, a front intake fan, a rear exhaust fan, and a CPU fan. If you've got a push-pull, you'll probably need a fan cable extension, and if you've got two intake fans and a top/side exhaust fan, you might need a fan controller.
High-quality Japanese capacitors surround the CPU socket, contributing to the Ultra Durable components that Gigabyte put into this motherboard.