P5B board layout and BIOS
With so many features integrated onto the P5B Deluxe board, you’d assume that we’d run into issues with the motherboard’s layout. However, this isn’t the case, ASUS has done a pretty good job with the P5B Deluxe’s board layout. The SATA ports are positioned down on the board, so they won’t get in the way of dual-slot graphics cards like the Radeon X1950 XTX or GeForce 7950 GX2, in fact you can run dual dual-slot cards without interference from the SATA ports. ASUS even places two PCI slots between both graphics slots to ensure plenty of room between both graphics cards.
We were a bit surprised to see only one x1 PCI Express slot though.
Did you catch the gold-plated connector to the right of the USB ports in the P5B Deluxe back plate photo? If so you may be wondering what that is. That’s ASUS’ WiFi module, which is powered by a Realtek RTL8187L 802.11a/b/g Wireless LAN controller. As the “AP” in the P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP name suggests, the board’s WiFi controller can also be used to setup an access point so you can share your Internet connection with other wireless devices as well.
The only real issue some users may run into with the layout of the P5B is the location of the seventh Serial ATA port. ASUS places it just above the primary PCI Express graphics slots, which frankly is one of the strangest places we’ve seen a Serial ATA port placed to date. Fortunately this SATA port isn’t driven natively by the chipset and therefore will likely be rarely used among P5B Deluxe owners. You’ll also note that parallel ports are missing from the back plate of the P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP in favor of the eSATA port. ASUS made the right move here in our opinion.
Audio and Dual GigE LAN
Audio duties are handled by an 8-channel codec from Analog Devices, the ADI 1988B. The 1988B seems particularly well suited for use with voice recognition software, ASUS touts its noise filtration capability and bundles the board with an ADI superbeam array mic, which focuses on the sound coming from the microphone’s reception cone, ignoring the sounds coming from other directions. This feature could make the P5B Deluxe an ideal solution for Skype users and other video conferencing applications. The motherboard’s networking is powered by Marvell 88E8001 and Marvell 88E8056. These are two popular controllers that have been implemented by numerous motherboard manufacturers, but keep in mind that the secondary Ethernet controller, the 88E8001 is based on the slower PCI bus and therefore won’t come anywhere close to hitting its peak theoretical speeds. Fortunately, the primary controller, the 88E8056 is based on PCI Express and doesn’t have this problem.
ASUS has put together a very solid BIOS for the P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP. Starting with their 507 BIOS update, ASUS has added the ability to adjust the CPU’s clock multiplier downward for Core 2 CPUs, which can come in handy for HTPC who may want to underclock their processor (this feature is also present on Gigabyte’s Core 2 motherboards), and with bus speeds up to 650MHz, the P5B Deluxe has all the bus speeds you’ll ever need for overclocking and then some. Keep in mind that since the Core 2’s front-side bus is quad-pumped, that equates to bus speeds of up to 2.6GHz effective.
The BIOS for the P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP is very well laid out, all the key settings you’ll need to overclock the board can be found on one page, making navigation a snap. ASUS’ BIOS provides a wealth of voltage settings for the CPU, FSB, Memory, North Bridge, and South Bridge, and for those of you with older PCI devices you can lock the PCI bus to 33MHz or tie it to the CPU. This is a nice feature to have if you’ve got a sound card or other PCI device that may be sensitive to overclocking.
|P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP BIOS Features|
|Bus Speeds||100-650MHz in 1MHz increments|
|PCI Express Speeds||90-150MHz in 1MHz increments|
|Memory Speeds||533, 667, 800, 889, 1067MHz|
|CPU Voltages||1.10-1.7V in 0.0125V increments|
|Memory Voltages||1.80-2.45V in 0.05V increments|
|PCI Express Voltages||NA|
|Front-side bus Voltages||1.2V, 1.3V, 1.4V, 1.45V|
|North Bridge Voltages||1.25V, 1.45V, 1.55V, 1.65V|
|CPU Multipliers||Yes, downward multiplier adjustment supported|
The P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP BIOS even features the ability to save profiles for overclocking. This could come in handy for instance if you find that some of your favorite older games can run with complete stability at higher clock speeds, while newer more demanding games may require slower speeds. With the OC profile, simply load the higher OC profile when you’re playing older games, and load the slower OC profile for your newer games. Up to two OC’ing profiles can be saved in the P5W DH’s BIOS.
End users have been reporting some pretty staggering overclocks with the P5B Deluxe, so we were eager to see how high we could push our board, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. When it was all said and done, we were able to run FSB speeds up to 439MHz with complete stability!
Make no mistake about it, this motherboard seems to be a scorcher when it comes to overclocking.