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The Layout

The expansion of the VC17 like on the VC15 can be considered maximal for an 845 solution. It features a standard AGP 4X slot and six PCI slots. Three DDR memory banks are available for memory expansion; note that only one double-side DIMM should be used in order to take advantage of the third bank. Note that FIC decided not to use a CNR slot like featured on the VC15.

The VC15 features RAID support via the more advanced Highpoint HPT372 Ultra ATA133 IDE RAID controller supporting RAID 0+1 functions in addition to the standard RAID 0 and 1 used on the Promise RAID controller featured on the previously reviewed SOYO P4ISR and DFI NB72-SR mainboards.

Something that I liked about the VC17 is its use of the C-Media CMI8378 audio chip offering support for a 6 channel audio setup. While you can always use the rear audio connectors of the I/O panel for your standard two channels audio setup, FIC bundled an external audio module featuring all the necessary digital audio inputs and outputs to fully support a 6 channel environment.

The audio module features four digital connections; one optical and one spdif input as well as an optical and spdif output. A center/bass and rear left/right output jacks are present to take advantage of the 6 channel feature. While an onboard LAN adapter was an option on the VC15, the VC17 features an integrated Ethernet adapter powered by the RealTek RTL 8100BL chip as a standard; the RJ45 connector is placed beside the two USB ports on the I/O back panel.

The main IDE connectors for the hard drives and the FDD connector for the floppy are comfortably located at the top of the DIMM slots resulting in cleaner PCB design. FIC made a good move with the decision of the placement of the IDE RAID connectors; they are placed horizontally lower the PCI slots 5 and 6.

Clip from the VC15 review: My first objection would go to the placement of the floppy drive connection, if you have been reading our past mainboard reviews, you already know that we like all connectors to be in one place in order to avoid having cables lying around from one end to another. In this case, I would have appreciated to see the floppy connector placed close to the IDE connectors.

I would like to applaud FIC for taking in mind my comment about the FDD connector placement in my previous VC15 review. They re-worked this on the VC17, the connector is now placed along with the primary IDE connectors.

One design flaw we have found on the VC17 is the interference between the memory banks and the video card. This little issue has been noticed on several of today motherboards including on the previously reviewed VC15 board and generally requires removing the video card in order to upgrade the memory.

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