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Home > Hardware Reviews > PC Parts

Friday, July 15, 2005
Asus P5WD2 Premium

2. The mainboard - Packaging

The P5WD2 Premium is designed on a black PCB, common among Asus high grade motherboards, with colour-coded components. The layout of the connections and interfaces placed on the board is well thought out and in a way that makes it easy to identify them.

With the P5WD2 Premium, Asus has adapted its Stack Cool 2, a fanless and zero-noise thermal solution that provides cooling to the board. An extra layer underneath the whole board improves the heat dissipation. According to Asus, this can lower the board's temperature by up to 20°C.

The P5WD2 Premium, as with most of Asus' latest motherboards, has adopted a fanless design. There are 3 metal heatsinks, one for each of the MOSFETs (Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor), Northbridge and the MCP-04 Southbridge to maintain temperatures at low levels.

Intel MCH 955X

Intel ICH7R

Below, you can see the 775 socket for Intel's latest CPUs. The board also supports the new D series Dual CPUs from Intel.

The memory module slots are colored black and yellow. You can always put two memory modules of the same memory size and timings on the same slot color, to enable Dual Channel's symmetry mode support, or even use two memory modules of different memory sizes to use asymmetry mode.

On the back panel, you will find the keyboard and mouse (PS2) ports, audio port (digital, analog and coaxial), the parallel port, VGA out port, 4 USB2.0 ports, two RJ-45 Jacks and one IEEE1394a port. Thus there is a slot for external Serial ATA. This port according to Asus connects to an external SATA box or a Serial ATA multiplier that supports up to 16 devices and enables smart setup and hot-plug function.

There two more connections for extra USB and one for extra firewire.

The P5WD2 Premium has many connection options. The ICH7R South Bridge from Intel is responsible for the four SATA II ports and the one IDE, Primary, slot (the blue one). The two red IDE slots are from the ITE chipset while there are two more SATA ports, one positioned near the CPU socket, and the other available externally from the rear panel.

The IT8211F of ITE Tech's supports 2 ATA133 channels with 4 devices.

The Asus P5WD2 has two PCI-E X16 slots while there is also an SLI bridge included in the retail package. The first slot, coloured blue, is 16X in both single and dual video modes while the black can also be set to 2X, 4X or Auto. With NVidia's drivers we used, we couldn't enable SLI for this board. Instead of this, the dual PCI-E video slots can be used for powering up four screens, in quad display.

The ATX power connections are one 24-pin and one 8-pin, which can also take 20-pin and 4-pin cables respectively.

A separate power cable is required for the VGA cards. If this is not connected, an adjacent red LED will light up.

Marvell® Yukon® Gigabit Ethernet connectivity solutions are designed for LAN on motherboard (LOM), NIC and embedded applications.  The Yukon products are well-suited for desktop, mobile and server network connections. Loaded with powerful manageability features, such as the Marvell Virtual Cable Tester® (VCT) technology and Wake-on-LAN support, the Yukon solution provides support for the broadest range of client and server platforms.

This small Winbond chip will provide your system with the ability to speak. It is a programmable speech synthesizer that will inform you if any error occurs during the BIOS self test scanning procedure. Users can edit and change these voices, and even add their own voice for every error that might occur.

- The package

The retail package for the P5WD2 Premium includes a large list of accessories :

Accessories InterVideo WinDVD Suite (OEM version)
1 x IEEE1394a port module
5 x SATA cables
SATA power cable for 5 devices
1 x 2-port USB2.0 / Game module
1 x COM Port module
1 x GT Soft Bridge for future upgrade
2 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
1 x IDE cable
1 x FDD cable
1 x I/O Shield
User' s manual
CyberLink PowerCinema (OEM version)
PAL to NTSC Adapter
1 x Omnidirectional dual-band wireless antenna
1 x FM Antenna
1 x Remote control + USB Receiver
WiFi-TV User's Manual
CyberLink PowerDirector

We liked, as always, the Asus manual. Very helpful...

Currently, the P5ND2 SLI-Deluxe, with an NForce4 based motherboard, has the better general performance, better than the P5AD2-E Premium with a 925XE. So it would be rather interesting to compare the P5WD2 Premium with the P5ND2 SLI-Deluxe. The component parts used for performing the reviews of both motherboards are the same and are listed on the following page.

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