As the Intel Core 2 Duo specifications were introduced, a lot of motherboard manufacturers had to go back to the drawing boards and revamp already released Intel chipset based motherboards to meet these new specifications. The Intel 975X is probably one of the more popular ones to have this done.
The is on the table for Viperlair to look over, and if you like, we might just look over it twice... While the maintains use of the ICH7R south bridge, there has been some subtle changes (besides support for the C2D of course). Let's look over what is included.
|LGA775 supporting the Intel Core 2 Extreme / Core 2 Duo / Pentium D / / Pentium 4 / Celeron D (@ 65nm and 80nm)
|4 DDR2 (240-pin) DIMMS / Max 8GB / Dual Channel capable (ECC or non-ECC)
|2 – x16 (PCIe1 x16 / PCIe2 x16) / 2 – x1
|Dual Marvel Yukon 88E8053 / Realtek RTL8187 Wireless
|ICH7R - 2x IDE (1 ATA133, 1 ATA100) / 4x SATA-II (RAID 0/1/5/0+1)
|Realtek ALC882M HD 8-Channel CODEC with S/PDIF Optical/Copper Dolby Pro Logix IIX Dolby Headphone Dolby Digital Live Dolby Virtual Speaker
|USB 2.0 (4 rear, 2x2 headers) / IEEE-1394 (1 rear, 1 header) / E-SATA / PS2 (2) / S/PDIF (Fiber and Copper) / RS-232 riser
Asus 8 Phase power design / Asus Stack Cool 2 / Fanless (heat-pipe) Thermal solution
Asus has put everything on this board less the Kitchen Sink, and I swear I might have seen it on one of my pictures somewhere. They have targeted the P5W DH Deluxe squarely at the gamer who wants an all in one solution that can also perform with the best of them, as the 975x has previously proven an ability to run fast. The DH series for Asus, noted as Digital Home, is at the forefront of the Asus all in one solution for enthusiasts.
While “Asus Stack Cool 2” has been around for some time, the heat-pipe solution employed by Asus is not only efficient, its down right sexah. Add to that, the simple foresight that gamers might just water cool their processors (thereby reduce the amount of airflow around the heat-pipes), Asus has included a small fan that can be snapped onto the heat-pipe to allow it to cool effectively without adding audible noise.
Tidbits and what fors
Some other features worth reading about, as well as investigating while building your system, briefly follow.
WiFi-AP Solo - When I first saw this I wondered what any true gamer would do with WiFi, as most of us know, WiFi would not be considered the ultimate connection scenario for a gamer, forget about the “up link to the net is slower then 54mb” bs, it's more the constant connection that can have little to no ping fluctuation, which wireless just can not handle. Further investigation shows that this can also be a source WiFi hot-spot for your network; ok, ok, I will let them have this one.
DH Remote – Thats right, a remote control for your PC, need I say more?
MP3-In – Interestingly, this allows you to play MP3's (or WMA or Ogg or whatever your player supports) through your PC speakers, even when the PC is off (is your PC ever off?).
EZ-Backup – Provides ready to go hardware based RAID 1 and easy to configure RAID 0 sets of Hard Drives, this is done without setting up BIOS parameters or drivers.
Asus of course packs their motherboards well, not to mention the exterior of their packaging is descriptive in what is included. Asus graphically points out items it thinks you will find of interest and a short description of each in a plethora of languages.
Opening the package the first thing you see is the “Do Not” sign; ok its really the wireless antenna and pigtail plus the remote control. Folding back the cardboard reveals the now familiar black Asus IDE/Floppy Cables and red SATA cables. Let's take stock of what comes as “extra” with the motherboard itself.
2 Red SATA cable's (one with a 90 degree end)
2 Orange SATA cables (one with a 90 degree end)
2 Black IDE cable's
1 Black Floppy cable
1 Grey USB Riser (4 USB ports)
1 Grey IEEE-1394 Riser (2 Firewire ports)
1 Grey RS-232 Riser
1 Green MP3 In (Audio Pass Through)
1 Black USB remote transmitter receiver
1 Front Panel Extender
1 USB Extender
1 IEEE-1394 Extender
1 Driver CD
3 Manual's (P5W DH Motherboard / Asus DH Remote / Asus WiFi-AP Solo)
While not as exclusive as some packages I have seen, a few very nice touches that the reviewer appreciates, however the general public might brush over. The 90 degree SATA cables are very nice when you start using 3 or 4 SATA drives, as the connectors come off of the hard drives much cleaner and allow for better cable management. The inclusion of the “Q-Connector” as Asus calls them, is huge for someone who builds a machine several times (or happens to review them) as it allows for easy connection of the front panel cables (or USB or FireWire) without getting your hands into those small places on the motherboard. A VERY nice simple added feature that goes a long way IMHO!
Apparently Asus did not see fit to include a quickstart guide, so you are going to be required to read the manual to install this motherboard, granted that might not be a bad thing with the complexity inherent with a board that is enthusiast aimed.
The Asus P5W DH Deluxe manual is similar to a lot of other manuals I have from other motherboard manufacturers. The layout is logical and easy to follow. There is no color once you flip the cover, color coding being something that is gaining popularity in other manuals I have seen.
The motherboard itself is Asus Brown, as Asus has not been one to go all out with a colorful solution. The overall look of the motherboard is not bad mind you, a black based motherboard would have looked nice with the gold heat pipes and fins protruding here and there. Speaking of the gold heat pipe and fins, you will notice upon inspection of the layout there are no fans. You will also notice everything appears to be color coded nicely to help you locate connectors and risers.
The socket used on the Asus P5W DH Deluxe is of course of the LGA775 format and is located on the right rear quadrant as with most solutions today. There appears to be ample room surrounding the socket retention mechanism for most HS/Fan combinations. Surrounding the LGA-775 is the 8 Phase Power Design. You might want to take note of the cooling solution deployed for the Power Design, as the HS here could become an obstacle for some CPU HS solution out there today. Sadly the 12V-Aux power connector is of the 4 pin variety, thus not allowing you to utilize both rails if you had a dual 12V rail PSU.
Moving to the left rear quadrant of the motherboard we see something a little out of the ordinary, the WiFi-AP card (Realtek). Of course the dual x16 graphics slots are here along with two x1 PCIe slots. Interestingly, between the 2 x16 slots is a standard PCI slot, I am not sure as to the reasoning behind this move, as there are 2 other PCI slots to the left of the x16 slots, but Asus must have thought they needed 3 for some solution. Also in the left rear quadrant you will find an additional molex power connector for that 2nd graphics card power requirement. As you may recall from previous reviews, the Intel 975X chipset supports Crossfire, of course the Asus P5W DH Deluxe does as well. There is the MP3 in connector, as well as risers for FireWire (red), Primary EIDE (black), and USB (blue). The BIOS chip sitting behind the 2nd PCI slot is an AMI and sports 8MB of storage.
Moving to the left front quadrant of the motherboard we see our Front Panel connector, EZ RAID connectors and our SB heat sink. Also in this section are your 3 SATA-II connectors (SATA 1/3/4, interestingly, 2 is missing). There is the 2nd EIDE connector here, this one oriented off the side of the board, we now have a grand total of 7 Hard Drives (not including the EZ-RAID). You can see as well that Asus has done a nice job on the South Bridge Heatsink.
Finally the right front section of the board where we connect our 20/24 pin main power. We also have the memory slots, which are color coded for Dual DDR2 functionality, you simply plug each module into the same color. Note that there is separation between the memory modules when running just two, which probably will be the primary scenario, this should allow ample cooling of the memory sticks. The all but useless floppy connection can also be found here.
The Rear I/O Panel for the P5W DH Deluxe features (from left to right) 2 PS2 ports for your mouse and keyboard, RS-232, Copper/Fiber S/PDIF, FireWire, External SATA-II, 10/100/1000 RJ45 (2), 4 USB slots, 6 connector Audio panel and your WiFi pigtail connector.
Installing the Asus P5W DH Deluxe, like many motherboards, is only an issue if something is amiss; that being said the Asus installed without issue. The Q-Connector for the Front Panel connectors is a godsend especially for someone with big fingers, I almost enjoyed connecting them. As mentioned earlier memory is inserted in either the orange or black slots if you want to run them in Dual DDR2 mode. Making sure to connect the Samsung HD to SATA1, let's boot her up.