Click here for a 3000x2500 high-res shot of the board (3 MB download), the backside is here.
The space around the CPU area is a bit small, especially when you plan on attaching phase-change units. All MOSFETs have heatsinks on them to reduce thermal stress.
PS/2 Keyboard, PS/2 Mouse, SPDIF, Audio, Dual Gigabit Ethernet, six USB Ports. On the backside panel the most important connectors are included. The layout does not really follow the ATX specification, except for the PS/2 ports and the networking. But since an IO shield is included this is no big issue.
The motherboard's memory slots have been color coded for easy dual-channel configuration. To run your memory in dual-channel mode you have to put the modules into slots of the same color. If you have problems running your memory in the yellow slots, try the orange ones. I couldn't get my OCZ Gold GX to POST after a CMOS reset in yellow - tried orange and it works fine.
Hrmm? What's that? Looks like DFI had to fix something after the boards were produced. So far all retail boards have this. I'm guessing that this cut trace has to do with the SPDIF audio and does not affect the rest of the board.
The DFI LanParty Expert is one of the first enthusiast boards which uses an 8-pin workstation connector. Both connectors are placed very conveniently near the edge of the motherboard.
You have only a 20-pin PSU with a 4-pin power plug? No problem, plug them in this way and the board will work fine. However, especially if you are going to do some heavy overclocking, it is advised to use a 24+8 Pin PSU.
Eight SATA ports are available for your storage. Four coming from the NF4 SLI and another four from a Silicon Image SATA RAID chip.
You will find two parallel ATA ports on this motherboard, for a total of four IDE devices. Both ports are provided by the nForce4 chipset and are spec'd to run at up to 133 MB/s.
The non-expert DFI boards had their headers all in black. Now there are colors, which makes it easier to find the right pins to connect to. If you take a closer look, you will notice that the "colors" are just a sticky piece of plastic which is inserted onto the headers. Hey, works fine for me.
DFI has added a ton of jumpers all over the board. While the other ones deal with SPDIF and USB power, these three are certainly more interesting.
From left to right:
Safe Boot: In case you are unable to start your system during your overclocking adventures, you switch this jumper to the 2-3 position when the system is powered down, wait a few seconds then switch it back to 1-2. Now all overclocking settings are reset, while the other CMOS settings are saved. The same can be achieved by holding the Insert key during power up/reset.
Speaker On/Off: Having a PC speaker onboard is crucial when it comes to detecting bootup problems. For day to day usage it might be annoying. Switching this jumper into position 1-2 disables the onboard speaker. This is the default position (the manual says otherwise). In my opinion it would have made more sense to enable it by default, since during the first install, there could be some problems.
Clear CMOS: When this jumper is set to 2-3 it will clear all contents of the CMOS. This is useful when the system does not boot or after upgrading your BIOS.
This is one of my favorite features on the DFI boards. You no longer have to use a screwdriver to power on the system.
Spread around the board are six (five - The connector above the PCIe connector is a 4-pin floppy drive power connector for supplying extra power if you are running in SLI mode) fan headers. One is used by the chipset fan.