Typically, when manufacturers release a budget board there are features that are either reduced or removed completely. Add in the fact that the XFX nForce 630i is an mATX motherboard, and the loss can be far more significant. At first glance the XFX nForce 630i is quite well laid out, and offers a high level of connectivity, interaction and immersion for solid value. There are some caveats however, and I shall illustrate those to you in a moment.
The CPU area on the XFX nForce 630i is quite clean with the exception one lone copper choke and capacitor residing on the top edge of the motherboard. As is par for the course on a budget motherboard, XFX has only run with solid capacitors in the CPU area. The capacitors are low-profile, and subsequently, shouldn't hinder the installation of an aftermarket heatsink.
Moving on to the DIMM area of the XFX nForce 630i we can see the first of the exclusions. Since the nForce 630i chipset only supports single channel memory, XFX has included 2 x DIMM slots which I feel is a little cheap, especially when there is clearly room for 4. Currently, there are two alternative mATX motherboards available in this price range which utilise the Intel G33 chipset, and they both supply 4 x DIMM slots. Those who utilise 64-bit Windows may baulk at the lack of available DIMM's.
The FDD, IDE and ATXPWR connectors are thoughtfully positioned on the far right hand side of the motherboard. Personally I would have liked to have seen XFX ditch the FDD connector, and instead include an additional IDE connector for those still using older HDD's and PATA optical drives.
Whilst many manufacturers are now opting for 90 degree SATA port connectors, XFX has run with traditional ones. Neatly placed at the bottom right-hand corner of the motherboard, they should allow for neat routing of SATA cables in your chosen chassis. Furthermore, the ever increasingly popular onboard PWR and RESET buttons make an appearance, as does the digital readout for helping narrow down boot problems with the motherboard. The bottom edge of the motherboard features connectivity options for: 3 additional USB ports; an optional serial port; front panel audio; S/PIDF Output (optional), as well as the inclusion of 2 x 3-pin fan headers.
It is ever so common to find oversights in motherboard layout such as DIMM slot clips obstructed by a primary GPU, SATA ports blocked by a primary GPU, onboard switches blocked, yep, again by a GPU. Forunately, the XFX nForce 630i motherboard suffers from any of these problems...even the CMOS jumper switch is in a really easy to reach position on the motherboard - immediately to the left of the 630i chipset heatsink
The inclusion of the PCI-e 1x slot should ride well with end-users looking to impliment PCI-e 1x sound cards, but the additional 2 x PCI slots allow for those with slightly older hardware. The availability of 1 x PCI-e slot also caters for those people who wish to use a discrete graphics card instead of the IGPU.
XFX has strangely included a 5th SATA port at the rear end of the motherboard; directly behind the e-SATA/USB hub on the I/O panel.
Concluding our tour of the XFX nForce 630i motherboard, we arrive at the rear I/O panel. The amount of connectivity options enabled here is quite impressive for such a cheap motherboard. The options made available are:
* PS/2 Keyboard and Mouse ports
* 1 x HDMI port
* 1 x SPIDF Out connector
* 1 x DVI and VGA inputs
* 4 x USB ports
* 1 x e-SATA port
* 1 x LAN connector
* 7.1-channel sound ports.