P45 Showdown - Asus P5Q Deluxe vs MSI P45 Diamond
P5Q Deluxe - Packaging & Contents
Asus P5Q Deluxe
The P5Q Deluxe, as with all Asus boards lately, arrives extremely well packaged. The box itself is a very fetching metallic blue affair, detailing the various features the P45 board has to offer. On the front of the box, the main features advertised are the EPU-6 Engine, DDR2-1200, and FSB 1600 support along with Asus' Express Gate, all of which I will cover later in the review. The feature list is further advertised both inside the flip up lid and on the rear of the package, which also goes on to give a full run down of the specification.
Here we see the board itself. Asus have begun to use blue metal covers on the copper coloured aluminium heatsinks which are then attached to the copper heatpipe assembly. I'm not completely sold on the colour scheme, but no one can accuse the board of looking bland. A plus point for watercoolers is that the heatsink assembly is part screw-down (mosfet area) and part push-pin style. However, I fail to see why Asus didn't use the screw down fixings to hold down the NB/SB assembly and not just the mosfet area.
Solid Japanese capacitors are used throughout (despite Gigabytes recent claims) which should make for a very durable board, and with a wealth of connectivity ports you shouldn't be left wanting for anything. Onto the accessories we find that although the offering is sparse, everything you need to get up and running is included. Of notable interest are the Q-shield (a 'cushioned' I/O backplate), Q-connectors that are now making a regular appearence and the optional mosfet cooling fan, again, now a regular among Asus accessories.
Above left we see the CPU and mosfet area. Count them Ferrite chokes guys! There are 14 to be exact (plus another 2 for the memory) making this motherboard a 16 Phase power design, which should allow for extremely clean power delivery to the CPU and memory and hence allowing for the highest possible overclocks. Advertising a power efficiency reading of 96%+, the 16 phase VRM design should also keep the temps down on the MOSFETs and send the tree huggers back to terminal 5.
Above right, we see that backplates are also attached to the rear of the board around the mosfet area to allow high tension (and therby great contact/cooling) around that area. Below left is the oversized Northbridge P45 cooler. It is clear by this design the P45 chipset is still going to need some serious cooling. Once more the actual fin design appears to be a copper coloured aluminium type metal rather than pure copper and is emblazoned with the blue Asus insignia. Following on with the same theme is the southbridge below left, also attached via heatpipe. As previously stated the NB and SB areas are both held down by traditional push pins rather than screws but even so the heatsinks feel solid enough. We shall see how well they perform later in the review.
Connectivity is an area where Asus have always shined and the P5Q Deluxe does not disappoint. With 6 USB ports (expandable to 10), eSATA, Firewire, Dual Gigabit ethernet ports, S/PDIF and a mouse/keyboard PS2 port, everything is there that you should need for a modern day multimedia PC. Above right we see the various expansion slots of the board, featuring 3 x PCIe x16, 2 x PCIe x1, and 2 standard PCI ports. The blue and top black PCIe x16 ports are the main interfaces used for a CrossfireX setup. When CrossfireX is detected, the ports drop down to PCIe x8 and the bottom most slot then becomes PCIe x4. We shall see how PCIe x8 performs when we test it with our Quadfire dual 3870x2 setup. Also worthy of note is the onboard power and reset switches allowing the board to be powered on and reset without the use of case buttons. This feature is usually only seen on ROG motherboards, so it is nice to see them being incorporated across the range.
That pretty much rounds up the P5Q Deluxe's physical attributes, so let me indulge you with a brief run down of the motherboard's feature set...
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