With so many features built in to the P5E3 Deluxe, ASUS has done a pretty remarkable job of integrating everything.
Like their P35 Bearlake motherboards based on the P5K line, ASUS uses an 8-phase power system delivering power to the CPU. In addition, every capacitor on the P5E3 Deluxe is an aluminum solid capacitor with conductive polymer. With all solid capacitors onboard, the idea is that the capacitors will last longer while also boosting system stability under extreme conditions.
ASUSís P5K P35 motherboards also utilize all solid capacitors.
Looking at the CPU socket, youíll notice that an array of large copper heatsinks flanks the area around the processor socket. These heatsinks are then connected by an equally impressive network of heat pipes; in fact, dual heat pipes are used to cool some areas, including the North Bridge.
This array of tall heatsinks provides excellent cooling without the need for a fan, but if youíd like to use active cooling, ASUS does include additional fans inside the packaging of the P5E3 Deluxe which you can use, but they arenít required for normal operation at stock clock speeds.
The only downside to all these heatsinks is it can be tough installing larger coolers with a wide base; the reason being there is very little room for you to work with, as all sides of the CPU are obstructed by the ASUS cooling. We managed to install our Scythe Ninja without any issues, but it did take a little longer than normal as a result.
One gripe we have with all the X38 motherboards that have been released to date is the location of the PEG slots Ė theyíre too close to one another, with only one expansion slot between them. When running two dual-slot Radeon HD 2900 XT graphics cards, thereís very little room between both cards because both graphics slots are right next to one another. The cooling system on these cards depends on having adequate airflow for optimal cooling. Fortunately we havenít run into any stability issues or seen any artifacts or other anomalies when running two cards in CrossFire mode, but if there was more room between the PEG slots the uppermost card would definitely run cooler.
Again, this is an issue that seems to most X38 motherboards and isnít unique to the P5E3 Deluxe, although it appears ASUS has figured out a solution, as their upcoming Maximus Extreme/Formula motherboards donít have this issue (you do lose the third PEG slot as a result though).
The rest of the P5E3 Deluxeís layout is quite good. Four of the boardís SATA ports, as well as the IDE connector are located along the right edge of the motherboard, parallel to the edge of the motherboard. With this orientation these connectors donít interfere with long, dual-slot cards like the Radeon HD 2900 XT and GeForce 8800 GTX. The flash memory chip for ASUS Express Gate is also short enough that it wonít interfere with a dual-slot graphics card. On the backplate of the board youíll find six USB ports, audio ports (including optical), a keyboard connector, and dual Ethernet ports. Here we should note that while the P5E3 Deluxe boasts dual Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, the second Ethernet port is driven by a Realtek RTL8110SC Gigabit LAN controller that is PCI-based, not PCIe. Enthusiasts will want to use the Ethernet port driven by Marvellís 88E8056 PCIe Gigabit LAN controller.