Intel's recently released Core 2 Duo series of processors may use the same LGA775 packaging as previous chips, but their electrical requirements mean that you’ll be out of luck with your current Intel supporting motherboard. Step in Asus with its brand new P5W DH Deluxe, featuring the top end Intel 975X chipset and a whole bunch of value added extras.
Asus has been designing quality Intel motherboards for some time now, and the P5W DH is no different. The PSU connector is in a decent location, on the side of the board, allowing you to keep the thick cable away from other components. The 12v connector is where we like it; right at the top end of the board. The two PCI-E x16 physical slots are well spaced as Asus has kept a two slot gap between them. It’s worth noting now that these two slots run at x8 when two graphics cards are inserted as this is all that the 975X chipset can allow. If we take the example of two dual slot graphics cards inserted into both PEG slots, then we still have two standard PCI slots available to use – well done Asus. Unfortunately Asus has only managed to fit 3 of the 4 SATA-II ports available from the Intel southbridge, however there are another two ports provided by a JMicron controller, and yet another two provided by a Silicon Image controller. One of the JMicron powered ports is external. The single IDE port from the southbridge and the floppy port are both easy to access and don’t cause any concern. There is an additional IDE port at the far end of the motherboard, powered by the JMicron chip. This port will be fairly difficult to use in taller cases, and Asus has only provided standard length IDE cables.
As Asus is aiming this board at the enthusiast it has designed an effective silent cooling solution for the 975X chipset and power circuitry. The heatpipe does a good job of passing heat away from the chipset quickly, as long as your case isn’t up-side down! The LGA775 socket area is fairly free of components allowing the use of most large sized heatsinks.
Asus is using the Realtek ALC882d audio codec on this board providing high definition 8 channel sound output, digital output and real-time Dolby Digital 5.1 encoding. This allows you to hook the system up to a home cinema amplifier/receiver and get digital quality surround sound from your PC games. In our testing this audio solution sounded fantastic, whether playing over analogue or digital. Asus use a couple of Marvell 1Gbps network controllers to provide connectivity, and has bundled in a nifty little USB 2.0 based 802.11g wireless card. The board also has a pretty standard 4 USB 2.0 ports on the rear panel, Firewire 400 port and a Serial port.
The box for this board comes so fully laden you’d be mistaken for thinking Asus had added in a free hard disk! The package includes all the normal niceties such as loads of serial ATA cables, power cables, IDE cables and a floppy cable, along with a slightly more unique remote control and IR receiver. This, combined with the bundled software, will allow you to control many aspects of your PC from the comfort of your sofa. Once set up it will even allow you to turn the system on and off! Software comes in the form of the standard Asus support CD and an Intervideo multimedia package.
You can buy the P5W DH from Chillblast pre-flashed with the latest 0701 BIOS. Other varients available may not be Core 2 Duo ready.