Asus P5W DH Deluxe, 975X Core 2 Duo Ready Motherboard
The Board and Bundle
Probably one of the best looking motherboards to grace our labs in a long time, the P5W DH Deluxe is what some might call a "totally decked-out" design. Every square inch of the board is packed tight with technology from its Dual Gig-E ports, to its 8-channel audio jacks, and the board's three, that's correct, three RAID controller chips.
Dual X16 PEG slots are also available for support of ATI dual Graphics CrossFire setups in a dual X8 PCIe configuration. Heat-Pipe connected passive heatsinks adorn the board's MOSFET power array and Northbridge chip, while a stand-alone sink dissipates heat from the Southbridge. Also, as we noted earlier, the P5W DH Deluxe has three on-board SATA RAID controllers -- the Intel ICH7R Southbridge with three available connectors, a Silicon Image SIL4723 2 channel RAID processor with two connectors and a JMicron LBM363 SATA RAID controller that has one internal and one external SATA connector.
As you'll see in the pages ahead, the SIL4723 does offer decent RAID capabilities, along with the JMicron chip which is only really targeted for two single SATA connections though it too offers RAID functionality. However, we sorely missed that forth SATA connector off the ICH7R. For example, users looking for a 4-drive RAID 10 setup will need to configure three of the drives on the ICH7R's ports and one of the driver on the SIL4723's port. This is because the fourth ICH7R port is connected to the SIL4723 and split into two ports.
The P5W DH Deluxe also has an integrated 54g WiFi NIC installed with a proprietary connector on the PCB, as well as a unique header and backplate port called "MP3IN" that allows users to feed an MP3 player into the motherboard's integrated audio solution.
In addition, the P5W DH comes equipped with the a wide array of cabling and IO connector plates to support all available features on the board with the proper connectivity. Asus also bundles in an antenna for the WiFi NIC and a small remote control package (testing results later) that can operate some basic media control and even advanced stand-bye/power control functions of the board. Lastly, Asus documents the board nicely with an assortment of literature for all the board's integrated functionality and drops in their obligatory Media Launcher CD with WinDVD Suite Advanced from InterVideo as its core software component.