ASUS P6T DELUXE X58 Motherboard Preview Page: 1
With the release of Intel's Bloomfield CPUs right around the corner and the X58 chipset bringing plenty of new features, many motherboard manufacturers have been hard at work putting together their arsenal of boards ready for the release date. Anyone following the news of these boards will have undoubtedly seen early leaked images in the news
from many manufacturers, and here at Overclock3D we even managed to get a real life look at ASUS's P6T back in August at the Advanced Overclocking Championship
However, today we've been sent what will be the actual retail version of the P6T DELUXE for some early analysis. Unfortunately we cant post any performance figures of the board yet (unless we wanted to get decapitated by both Intel and ASUS), but never less we're still going to take an up-close look at some of the boards finer points including its insane 16+2 phase power circuitry and the shiny new X58 chipset (sin IHS....boooo!). Here are some words from ASUS' recent press release:
Fulfilling demand for users that require a motherboard able to achieve extraordinary overclocking capability, ASUS, world-leader in motherboard production, has unveiled the new ASUS P6T DELUXE amid high user expectation. This innovative motherboard utilizes Intel’s latest platform, and features the exclusive ASUS Super Hybrid Engine concept that encompasses the TurboV and EPU technologies to deliver the twofold benefits of overclocking and power efficiency. TurboV is an advanced overclocking application that enables easy overclocking without the need to exit or reboot the operating system; while the EPU automatically provides users exceptional power efficiency. Equipped with Super Hybrid Engine, users will enjoy the best overclocking environment and address environmental concerns at the same time.
In the grand scheme of things the P6T DELUXE is essentially going to be to the Nehalem, what the P5B DELUXE was to the Conroe. Ok maybe that's a bit of a generalisation, but it's still interesting to look back at the P5B
and see how much (or little in some cases) things have changed over the past two years in the world of motherboard design.
Probably one of the most interesting features of the P6T DELUXE (and the upcoming RoG board) aside from the entirely new architecture, is the TurboV overclocking application. Once again, we cant show any pictures of this in action YET, but essentially TurboV is a hardware version of tools such as ClockGen and SetFSB which allow "Live" overclocking from within Windows. Many of us will also recognise the LCD display used for the interface. Yes it's the Asus "ScreenDUO" as originally seen on the P5B Premium Vista Edition. Let's hope it gets more use this time around...
One final feature that most definitely deserves a mention for all X58 boards is is the ability to run either Crossfire or SLI. This is something that many enthusiasts have long been dreaming about, and based on the strength of Intel's P45 and X48 chipsets, may well bring about the decline of Nvidia based motherboards. More on this another time though.
Now that we've got the formalities out of the way let's unleash the beast...
ASUS P6T DELUXE X58 Motherboard Preview Page: 2
Packaging & Contents
The P6T Deluxe is presented in a rather huge blue box that easily equals the size of two standard motherboard boxes stacked atop of each other. This is quite unusual for a non-RoG (Republic of Gamers) motherboard, which are normally only treated to a standard sized box with very little in the way of protection.
The front of the box features a fairly basic blue pyramid style background adorned with various specification stickers detailing the main highlights of the board. However, in true ASUS style, the front of the box is but merely a gateway into further information where ASUS have placed detailed descriptions for all of the boards features underneath a cardboard flap.
Opening up the box we can also see the reasoning behind the XXL packaging. Unlike a lot of ASUS's P5 series, the P6T is separated from the accessories compartment by a cardboard inner-box complete with a clear plastic lid. This should certainly go a long way to keeping the motherboard safe during shipping, even if dropped.
Contained within the accessories box is the usual collection of SATA and IDE cables along with ASUS' padded "Q-Shield" I/O plate, the TurboV LCD display, a Q-Fan and two additional SATA cables that provide a more robust connection by combining the SATA data and power headers together. Granted there's nothing overly exciting, but still more than some manufacturers provide.
Now let's move on to the more exciting stuff...
ASUS P6T DELUXE X58 Motherboard Preview Page: 3
Unlike the higher-end E-ATX based Rampage II Extreme
, the P6T Deluxe is thankfully still standard ATX sized and a such will have no problems fitting in the average midi-tower sized chassis. This does however have the side-effect of making the board look slightly cluttered, although ASUS need to be commended for avoiding issues such as the DDR3 slots being squashed up against the primary PCI-E slot or oversized capacitors hindering the use of certain Air/Water cooling solutions.
The back of the board features ASUS' "Stack Cool 2" system which essentially acts as a PCB heatspreader along with screw fixings for the Northbridge cooler and a solid metal back plate attached to the LGA1366 socket to help prevent warping of the board. Unfortunately ASUS haven't used screw fixings for the mosfet or Southbridge cooling, but this is only a minor gripe considering neither coolers are heavy enough to cause any real issues.
Taking into account both the size of the LGA1366 socket and the 16 chokes situated around the socket in a 9 + 7 configuration, the socket area is fairly clear of obstructions. Obviously those who dabble in sub-zero cooling and would be looking to insulate the board from condensation will probably disagree, but without moving to a Digital PWM "a la DFI", there really is very little that could be done to make the layout any better.
Unlike the X38 and X48 chipsets, the X58 isn't fitted with an IHS (Integrated Heat Spreader). This combined with the two-pin mounting hole system of the Northbridge leaves the X58's core wide open to being "nibbled" by aftermarket cooling solutions that may not mount flatly on the cores surface. Fortunately ASUS have enabled the black aluminium heatsink mounted on top of the heatpipe cooling system to be removed, leaving behind a flat copper plate for mounting any aftermarket cooling to (in theory).
Powering the six DDR3 slots is a three phase PWM system similar to that used on the P5E3 Premium
. However, as the sticker emblazoned across the DDR3 slots so rightly points out, setting the DDR3 voltage above 1.65v can cause serious damage to the CPU (indicating some truth to the recent reports) and therefore only DDR3 modules that can operate with 1.65v or lower should be used on the board.
In addition to this the board also features an "OV_CPU" jumper that opens up additional (dangerous?) voltage selection options for CPU in the BIOS. This was the very jumper that caused me to put 1.9v through a QX9650 on the P5E3 only a few months back, so exercise caution before enabling it on your shiny new Nehalem.
The I/O area at the back of the board is fully featured with a total of eight USB ports, two NIC's, an eSATA port, an IEE1394 port, a PS2 port (than can be used for either a mouse or keyboard) and a Six Channel Audio system with Coax and Digital connectors. This is in line with most of ASUS' recent motherboards, barring the RoG series that ditch the onboard audio in favour of an add-in card.
Moving on to the internal slots we can see that ASUS have opted for three physical PCIe 16x slots, one PCIe 1x slot and two PCI slots. The layout of these slots is configured in such a way that should you utilise two graphics cards in SLI or Crossfire configurations (with dual slot coolers), you will still be left with access to a single PCI slot and PCIe 1x slot.
Finally a closer look at some of the smaller components on the board reveal an engineering sample ICH10R Southbridge controller marked "Intel Secret", a Marvell 88SE6320 SAS controller (supporting 2 x SAS devices in RAID 0 and 1 configuration ) and a VIA Fire IIM VT6308P/S 1394 Host Controller for Firewire. All in all, an extremely respectable line-up.
ASUS P6T DELUXE X58 Motherboard Preview Page: 4
Obviously it's far too early to draw up a conclusion on what we think of the ASUS P6T DELUXE without being readily armed with a handful of test results and comparisons to boards from other manufacturers.
However, ASUS have managed to avoid a lot of the design layout 'gotchas' that plague other motherboards especially when we take into consideration that they've had to squeeze in a larger CPU socket, an extra two DIMM slots and a 16(+2) phase power delivery circuit. While this isn't the be all and end all of a good motherboard, it's certainly a good start.
Features such as on-board SAS, TurboV and the capability of running both SLI and Crossfire configurations (X58 feature) are all also groundbreaking inclusions for what will be a 'middle road' desktop board, and we'll be testing each and every one of these features in detail when the NDA's permit.
Providing ASUS are kind to us, the P6T will also be the basis of our initial Nehalem results published sometime in November and we'll be sure to put both the board and the latest/greatest Intel CPU against some of their most powerful predecessors.
Stay tuned and feel free to discuss this preview in our forums