The board’s layout is fairly clean, as we’ve come to expect of Iwill. There’s ample room around the CPU socket for larger heatsinks, cards in the AGP slot do not interfere with the DIMM clips opening, and there are no major obstructions around any of the PCI slots (with the exception of the floppy drive connector, which lies between, and parallel to the third and fourth PCI slots). We have only two small complaints with respect to the layout. Firstly, the fan on the Northbridge, rather than being wired into the motherboard, uses one of the fan headers, leaving you with only two free (only one near the CPU). Granted this does offer a bit of flexibility in changing the fan, but another header would’ve been nice. Secondly, the ATX power connector is positioned a bit inconveniently between the ATX I/O stack and AGP slot. Yes, we know it’s there for a reason, and that power delivery would be negatively impacted if it should be moved, but we’re editors, and it’s our job to complain about these things!
On-board RAID and ATA-133
Fig 1. Highpoint's ATA-133 RAID controller.
As do most high-end boards nowadays, the XP333-R offers on-board IDE RAID. Iwill has employed Highpoint’s HPT372 controller, which supports RAID levels 0, 1, 0+1, and JBOD, and supports the new ATA-133 standard. We should note that Highpoint has come a long way in improving the firmware and drivers for its products over the last two years. Evidently, it has improved pricing as well, as Iwill had previously committed to AMI controllers. We should also note that the two integrated channels provided by the ALi M1535D+ Southbridge support ATA-133 as well, offering support for a total of eight ATA-133 devices. For more information on ATA-133, you can read our first look at the specification here.