ABIT AA8 DuraMAX and ASUS P5AD2 Premium- New Alderwoods From The Big Dogs
ASUS P5AD2 Premium Closeup
The ASUS P5AD2 is a board you could almost stare at for hours, perusing its various component-level features. This board is jam-packed with more new technology and features than we have seen on any new i925X- or i915-based product to date.
The back panel I/O connectors are set up similar to ABIT's AA8, with the notable exceptions in SPIF connectors and the addition of the Wireless Antenna jack, which is not just an "option" but is actually a feature that ASUS will be offering as standard equipment on many of their LGA775 boards, including their i915 boards. Incidentally, we asked ASUS about their Wi-Fi solution on this board, as we were sure readers would be interested in knowing if the board has been affected by Intel's recent recall of certain lots of ICH6 Southbridge chips, due to errata with their Wi-Fi functionality block.
As it turns out, ASUS uses Marvell's Libertas 88W8310/88W800G 802.11g Wireless Client chipset. This a two-chip MAC/Phy combo chipset that actually has an embedded ARM processor in the larger MAC chip (shown above). It incorporates full WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) encryption and claims longer range and better link stability over a 54Mb/s connection. ASUS also includes Wireless Access Point software in their bundle, which we'll cover in more detail in the following section. All told, this is a nice addition if you are in need of wireless connectivity or even wireless network management and access. It will certainly add to the cost of the product, but then again, this is a technology that will become much more pervasive in the average computing environment moving forward.
Then of course there is the P5AD2's new "Stack Cool" technology, with the microfinned copper sink on the top side of the board. This feature, ASUS states, includes a mini PCB that conducts heat away from the main PCB to enhance overclocking and stability. Finally, as we mentioned before,the P5AD2 bundles just about any external I/O plate you could ever possibly need, including an external SATA connector plate with an external power connector. Want to add another SATA drive and have it sit in a bracket outside your computer or on your desktop? This plate will allow you to do just that.
ASUShas put together a great total package with the P5AD2 Premium Wireless Edition. It's easily the most tricked-out motherboard we've seen come down the pipe here in a long time. All that technology will come at a price, for sure, but true enthusiasts will appreciate all that the P5AD2 Premium has to offer.