Finally got some free time to upgrade my existing HTPC with this board. Wanted a good 4 hours with no interruptions to test new board, install in case, reinstall OS, etc.
30 minutes later the system was back in the cabinet. Un-freaking-believable!
Old MB was a P5E-VM HDMI, new is the P5N7A-VM. Keeping same slim-line HTPC case, stock low-profile Intel cpu cooler, E4500 cpu, 2x1gig Gskill memory.
Removed old CPU/Memory/Connections. Left old motherboard installed in case, setup new MB on foam outside case on side. Moved CPU/Memory/connections/power to new MB.
Powered the system up, upgraded and setup bios. Inserted Vista Premium CD into drive, and restarted. Got distracted at this point, and system booted off HDD. Oh crap! What with the whole new chipsets and controllers, I was dreading the blue-screen and possible data corruption problems (I have videos/pictures on seperate partition, so wasn't planning to wipe those).
Imagine my amazement when Vista booted up without a hitch. I ran the nVidia driver pack v20.08 from their site, rebooted, and all was golden.
System played DVDs, browsed the network, WHS and MyMovies all perfect. Even the old static IPs I'd assigned were applied to the new network card. I even have S3 sleep/resume working for the first time on Vista!
I'm planning to run this way for a few days, make sure temps look good in production, then I'll wipe the system, and install Windows 7 as a test bed.
For cooling/temps: I'm using the low-profile stock Intel cooler, on a E4500 on stock settings. I loaded up QFan to control the CPU speeds, which work good. This is in a slimline case, in a closed cabinet, with virtually no airflow. Case has a 60mm exhaust fan, and I installed a 60mmx10mm fan on the NB sink, undervolted to 9v. CPU is idling at ~35c, GPU is idling at 50c, with Vista Media Center up. CPU never rises above 40c, and I haven't seen GPU break 60c yet on standard DVDs. I did remove the stock NB sink, clean and apply MX-2 paste, then reseat, but that was all.
I have to say, as motherboards go, I haven't seen a better "Just Works" product in my entire 20 years of building machines. My next step is to load up TMT and test BR playback, and temps during BR playback. That's the only concern I have is what that will do to GPU temps. I also plan to undervolt the CPU a bit.