Asus P5WD2 Premium i955X - HotHardware

Asus P5WD2 Premium i955X

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When Intel released their previous line of chipsets, namely the i915 and 925X, they got a luke warm reception at best. Performance gains over of the 865/875 platform were minimal, and there weren't many upgrade options available at the time of launch. On top of that, users were faced with the unenviable task of purchasing a new CPU, RAM, and video card, at the very least, to get up and running with one of these new chipsets. The 915/925 duo undeniably brought new technologies to the field, including, but not limited to, PCI-Express graphics, DDR2 memory and the LGA775 socket for Prescott and Extreme Edition processors.  And a later revision called the 925XE even added support for CPUs running on a 1066MHz bus, but the i915/i925 series of chipsets never gained the acclaim of the i875.

Almost a year has passed since then, and as usual technology presses ever onward, which brings us to Intel's latest offering, the i955X Express.  As of now, the 915/925 can be seen as a stepping stone to the 955X, as it helped usher in the new technologies that the 955X will be based upon.  However, the 955X aims to increase performance using Dual Core CPUs, more memory bandwidth, and a brand new South Bridge, the ICH7R, which will provide support for not only RAID 0 and 1 configurations, but 5 and 10 as well.  Our first look at a retail board based on the i955X comes to us by none other than Asus, and it's called the P5WD2 Premium.

        
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Specifications of the Asus P5WD2 Premium
Climb aboard the i955X Express
















Chipset
·
_Intel 955X + ICH7R

CPU
· Supports Intel Pentium 4/Celeron processors in LGA775 socket

· Intel Pentium Extreme Edition and Pentium D Processor ready
·_533/800/1066 front-side bus

Memory
·
_Four 240-pin DDR2 DIMM slots
·
_Supports ECC and non-ECC DDR2 800/667/533 DIMMs
·_Supports up to 8GB system memory
·_FNative DDR2 800 Support
·_Intel Memory Pipeline Technology

Audio
·
_Realtek ALC882D High Definition Audio 8-channel CODEC
·
_Supports Multi-streaming, Jack-sensing and re-tasking functions
·
_Optical and Coaxial S/PDIF out available on rear I/O panel
·_Features Dolby Digital Live Technology

LAN
·
_Dual Gigabit LAN controllers:
·_1x Intel PCIe Gigabit LAN
·_1x Marvell 88E8001 Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2

Storage/RAID
·
_Intel ICH7R South Bridge:
·_1x UltraDMA 100/66/33
·_4x SATA I/II ports (3GB/s) with RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 support

·_Silicon Image 3132 SATA controller:
·_1x Internal Serial ATA I/II
·_1x External Serial ATA

·_ITE IDE Controller:
·_2x UltraDMA 133/100/66















Expansion Slots
·
_3x PCI slots
·_1x PCI-Express (x1) slots
·_1x PCI-Express (x16) slot for graphics card·_1x Universal PCI-E Slot (x4 mode)

Universal Serial Bus
·
_8x USB 2.0/1.1 connectors (4 ports on rear panel)

FireWire
·
_Texas Instruments 1394 controller supports 2 FireWire ports

Rear-panel I/O
·
_PS/2 Keyboard and Mouse sockets
·
_4x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
·
_2x Gigabit LAN (RJ-45)
·
_8 channel audio out
·
_1x Optical S/PDIF Audio Out
·
_1x Coaxial S/PDIF Audio Out
·
_1x External SATA port
·
_Parallel Port

BIOS
·
_8Mb Flash ROM, AMI BIOS
·_Supports PnP, DMI 2.0, WfM2.0, SMBIOS 2.3
·_Crashfree BIOS 2
·_Asus Q-Fan2, MyLogo2
·_Multi-Language BIOS
·_AI NOS (Non-delay Overclocking System)
·_ASUS CPU Lock Free

ASUS AI Life Features
·_WiFi-TV PCI card (optional)
·_Digital TV (DVB-T only), Analog TV, FM
·_WiFi@home 802.11a/b/g
·_Stack Cool 2 patented fanless cooling
·_SATA on the GO External SATA connector
·_AI Quiet

Form Factor
·
_ATX Form Factor
·_12" x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.5cm)0







The Bundle:

As this is a Premium Edition product from Asus, we can expect to find a bundle that's probably head and shoulders above normal expectations. The relatively normal sized box housed a complete set of cables including no less than five SATA data and power cables as well as two IDE cables and one for the floppy drive.  A few brackets add some additional connection options, such as two additional USB 2.0 ports, FireWire and Serial ports, and finally a legacy Game/MIDI port.  Of course, no bundle would be complete without user's manuals and a driver CD, and Asus provides both of these for builders to refer to.  There's even a working version of WinDVD for those who need it.

Interestingly, there's a connector called the GT Soft Bridge that appears to be the same cable one would normally be used to connect two similar GeForce 6 cards in SLI mode for increased video performance, but as this board doesn't support such configurations, it will mostly go to waste or be used with another setup for now. In the future, should NVIDIA approve the i955X for use in SLI configurations, this connector would be necessary for full functionality. 

The real jewel of the bundle is the WiFi-TV card which allows for wireless connection to the Internet and home network, as well as letting users watch, record, pause and replay video.  We will get back to this a little bit later in the review, as it really deserves a little more attention of it's own.

 

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