ASUS P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP
Based on Intel’s P965 chipset, the ASUS P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP is ASUS’ flagship P965 motherboard and it certainly shows. ASUS has decked their P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP board out with pretty much every feature you can think of. For connectivity, you’ve got dual Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as 54Mbps 802.11g WiFi, seven Serial ATA ports, and one parallel ATA connector. Since the ICH8 South Bridge used on the P965 chipset doesn’t support parallel ATA, the inclusion of parallel ATA support is made possible thanks to an external storage controller manufactured by JMicro, which also powers the board’s seventh Serial ATA port. Rounding out the P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP’s connectivity are 8 USB 2.0 ports (four provided via back plate, and another four via external USB header) and 2 IEEE-1394a ports (one on the backplate, and one via header). On the backplate of the P5B ASUS also offers an eSATA port just below the FireWire port. This gives you access to a Serial ATA port without having to reach inside your case.
You’ll also note that the P5B Deluxe has two full-sized PCI Express graphics slots, a blue (primary) slot, and a black (secondary) PCI Express slot. Thanks to a recent driver update from ATI, the P965 chipset (and the P5B Deluxe) now supports ATI’s CrossFire technology, but currently CrossFire support is limited to just D3D apps and only Radeon X1900 cards (we explain why in this news article
When running in CrossFire mode the primary slot runs in full 16-lane PCI Express mode while the second slot gets just four PCI Express lanes. This results in a slight performance penalty. In comparison, the 975X chipset splits its PCI Express lanes evenly, eight for each slot. In addition to supporting X1900-based CrossFire, the second slot can also be used to hook up an additional graphics card so you can drive more monitors. The blue slot is the primary graphics slot and runs at full 16 lane operation, while the second graphics slot only runs in x2 or x4 mode.
One of the motherboard’s cooler features is known as ASUS Q-Connector. Q-Connector makes it easier for you to hook up items like the pin headers for your system speaker, power button/LED, etc. Instead of having to whip out the user manual to see where these pins are connected to the motherboard, simply plug the pins into ASUS’ Q-Connector which then goes on the motherboard. It makes things a lot easier than reaching inside your case to hook these devices up individually, which can be a tedious process sometimes. The P5B Deluxe also has one of the most unique power LEDs we’ve seen. Rather than relying on the standard green LED we’ve grown accustomed too, ASUS uses a blue power LED adorned with the ASUS logo. Then, once you power the system on, the LED changes from blue to red. It’s a really nice touch that we’d like to see ASUS continue to integrate on their high-end boards.
ASUS has implemented an 8-phase power delivery system on the P5B Deluxe. In fact, if you take a closer look at the CPU area on the P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP, you’ll note that ASUS uses eight polymer capacitors here. Polymer capacitors are designed to handle heat better than the electrolytic-based capacitors you’ll typically see on most motherboards, and therefore typically last longer than electrolytic capacitors. In fact NVIDIA and their board partners tend to use polymer capacitors on their high-end GeForce 7600 GT/7800 GT/7900 GT and greater graphics cards. ASUS also uses all-solid capacitors for their 8-phase power delivery system on the P5B Deluxe. This further ensures that the CPU gets a good stream of steady power, as well as helping the board’s longevity. You’ll also notice that the capacitors around the CPU are low-profile i.e. they aren’t very tall. This ensures that you’ll have plenty of room to install the largest of CPU coolers.
Another nice feature ASUS includes on all of their high-end motherboards is heat pipe-based cooling. ASUS uses a heat pipe to cool the board’s the VRM circuitry as well as the North Bridge, allowing the board to operate silently. ASUS also includes an external fan which can be attached to the board which you can use if you’re running a water-cooling setup, or just want a little more cooling.