Asus P5NT-WS Review (Page 3 of 11)

Page 3 - A Closer Look, Board Layout

With a chestnut colored PCB and copper heatpipes, the Asus P5NT-WS continues the style of the Asus P5W64-WS Professional. Even the layout is almost identical -- including placement of power connectors, floppy, and PATA connectors. The only major changes I noticed in terms of connectors are the internal Firewire and USB connectors at the bottom; in which has been slightly reorganized. Four SATA connectors are also placed at a 90 degree angle to the board.

The heatpipe implementation is quite unique. The southbridge heatsink pulls heat over the top of the northbridge heatsink, while the northbridge heatsink leads heat away to the back of the case. We'll go over the effectiveness of this in just a moment.

By the way, see the beautiful solid state capacitors? Yes, 100% solid state aluminum caps.

As usual from Asus' high end motherboard offerings, the Asus P5NT-WS incorporates Asus' Stack Cool 2 design where a layer of metal is integrated into the motherboard to spread heat generated by components around more evenly. Through this, it lowers the amount of concentrated heat spots in one area but instead spread over a larger surface area for better heat dissipation.

Area around the CPU socket looks clear of interfering objects, and we experienced no problems installing the Scythe Infinity on the Asus P5NT-WS. And yes, you do see an 8 phase power design. The advantage of 8 phase power designs is that it will theoretically reduce the requirements for input ripple currents. Low voltage ripples allow the CPU to operate at a more stable voltage and thus create more opportunity for higher overclocks.

Because power consumption is directly related to input ripple current, there will be a slight decrease in power usage over motherboards with a 4 phase power design. When less power is used, less heat will be generated. This increases stability and life span of a CPU.

From the top is a PCIe x1 slot, following in the order of PCIe x16, PCIe x1, PCIe x16, PCI-X, PCIe x16, and finally a PCI slot. Personally, I believe the PCI-X and PCI slot should be switched around. Since SLI utilizes the two blue PCIe x16 slots, gamers using dual dual-slot graphics cards in SLI might actually want the PCI slot for dedicated sound and less likely server/workstation add-on cards such as a PCI-X hardware RAID controller. Workstation users requiring the PCI-X slot probably won't use two dual-slot graphic cards in SLI, so placing the PCI-X connector at the bottom will unlikely be an issue.

The PCIe slots can operate in lane configuration of 8-8-16 or 16-1-16.

Also shown is a VIA6308S 1394 controller chip.

Four SATA connectors are placed at a 90 degree angle to the motherboard for convenience, while two remains in the same horizontal orientation of the Asus P5NT-WS. All six SATA ports are natively controlled by the NVIDIA NF570MCP.

It's very interesting how Asus nicknames their workstation motherboards. The "Wall Street Quartet" (Asus P5W64-WS Professional) got its name from the four PEG slots. The P5NT-WS probably got the nickname "Hollywood Trio" from the tri-PEG slots. And of course, the large Trio label over the southbridge heatsink as shown above.

Floppy IDE connector, 24 pin motherboard connector, and a 4 pin Molex connector for additional power. Located at the top right hand corner of the Asus P5NT-WS is the ITE IT8718F sensor.

The back I/O panel. The layout is exactly the same as the Asus P5W64-WS Professional -- therefore the back I/O plate is also the same.

The eSATA port is controlled by Silicon Image Sil3531 3Gb/s controller. Interestingly, despite physical similarities with the Asus i975X based workstation motherboard, the integrated sound is not the same. The Asus P5NT-WS actually uses a Realtek ALC888 8 channel high definition audio codec, while the P5W64-WS Pro uses an ADI 1988B (SoundMAX 7.1) set for sound. The ADI 1988B offers better audio performance than the Realtek ALC888.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Features, and Specifications
2. Bundle, Chipset, BIOS
3. A Closer Look, Board Layout
4. Test System; Benchmark: 3DMark06
5. Benchmark: PCMark05
6. Benchmark: Cinebench 9.5, SuperPI 1M
7. Benchmark: EVEREST CPU
8. Benchmark: EVEREST FPU
9. Benchmark: EVEREST Memory
10. Benchmark: EVEREST Memory Latency, HDTach
11. Onboard Sound, Overclocking, Conclusion