Asus P5W64-WS Professional Review (Page 3 of 7)

Page 3 - Board Layout and Design

Board layout is quite an essential thing when it comes to overall aesthetics of your case (Especially with a windowed one), as well as airflow. Let's go over the layout of Asus' P5W64-WS Professional in this area.

A view of the whole motherboard at the top. If you want to buy a motherboard for looks that sets itself above others, this board is the one you are looking for. With a beautiful black PCB and copper (And copper colored) heatsinks, with coordination of colors of the PCI Express, RAM slots, and other on board material, it is really one of the best looking motherboards we've seen from this alone. Photos don't do it justice; this product needs to be seen to be believed. High class looks, and excellent color coordination -- if you are looking for something to show off, the Asus P5W64-WS Professional won't disappoint in any way. (Workstation motherboards have no fancy cool looking LEDs though.)

As you can see in our photo above, there are four Intel ICH7R controlled SATA ports on the right of the needle shaped heatsink; right above it is a Parallel ATA connector placed at a right angle to the board. The only complaint right here is if the standard IDE connector switched spots with the FDD IDE connector located above the 24 pin power connector, since most people are going to use it for optical drives and not for hard drives.

This board 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.

As an high end motherboard, the Asus P5W64-WS Professional features an 8 phase power design (Physically shown on the photo above in the 8 "black cubes" near both edges of the LGA775 socket). Early motherboards from Asus with an 8 phase power design is seen in their previous high end consumer offering of A8N32-SLI Deluxe for AMD platform and P5N32-SLI for Intel based computers. Through this design, it theoretically reduces the requirements for input ripple currents. Low voltage ripples allows the CPU to operate at a more stable voltage and thus creates 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.

Passive cooling without fans using the heatpipe where heat is exhausted through the back I/O location is quite common in today's motherboard design. It generates no noise at all, and not prone to failure as there are no moving parts. It's quite a big selling point for Asus' A8N-SLI Premium last year for this implementation over their Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe (And Asus probably had to spend a lot of money replacing the dying fans on that motherboard).

The four color coded RAM slots. Simply install matching RAM modules into banks of the same color for dual channel configuration.

Located on the right of the RAM slots is a 24-pin power connector, Molex power connector for additional power, and a FDD connector. Excellent placement of the power connectors -- absolutely no complaints here. As I said earlier, if only the FDD and PATA connectors switched spots, it would have been perfect.

As "Quartet" is referred to the quad PCIe slots on the Asus P5W64-WS Professional, there is some obvious significance in the word on that heatsink. We weren't wrong -- an IDT 89HA0324 controller sits behind it to ensure support for the quad PCIe x16 slots.

The amazing four PCIe slots. Yes, four for support for a total of up to eight monitors. Unfortunately, PEG slots can only be configured to 16-0-4-0 or 8-8-4-8, which is a BIOS controlled thing. No 16-16-16-16 or even 16-16-8-16, that's just too bad. Asus recommends 16-0-4-0 for Crossfire.

The IDT 89HA0324 controller is required because Intel's i975X chipset supports only up to 22 PCIe lanes. Two normal PCI slots are available as well, and a green power LED resides between the fourth PCIe slot and the top PCI slot.

At the top of our photo above, the needle shaped heatsink passively cools the Intel ICH7R Southbridge that generates its share of heat during usage. At the right corner of our photo above (Which is located just left of the case connectors on the motherboard) is three SATA2 ports provided by Marvell 88SE6145.

Back I/O connectors. It's not too dissimilar to abit's AB9-Pro, except there's a parallel port on the Asus. Heat exhaust slip under the parallel port to the outside of the case.

Powered by ADI 1988B (SoundMAX 7.1), there's quite a load of features in terms of onboard sound. An S/PDIF input and S/PDIF out connector is present in addition to the multiple analog in/outs totaling of six 3.5mm jacks. The two Gigabit Ethernet ports are provided Marvell; same goes with the eSATA connector at the back.

All I can say is truly an excellent layout despite its huge amount of onboard devices and connectors. Excellent in terms of aesthetics; the only minor complaint I can make is that the FDD IDE connector and PATA (HDD) connector can switch spots.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Features
2. Chipset, BIOS, Accessories
3. Board Layout and Design
4. Test System; Benchmarks: PCMark05, 3DMark06
5. Benchmarks: EVEREST Ultimate Edition 3.50.799
6. Benchmarks: Cinebench 9.5, HDTachRW
7. Onboard Sound, Overclocking, Conclusion