Benchmark Summay and Conclusion
Benchmark And Performance Summary:
The Asus P5W64 WS Professional offered virtually identical performance to its more mainstream counterpart, the Asus P5W DH and held a slight advantage in most of our benchmarks over the Intel BadAxe motherboard. In our testing with the P5W64 WS configured with the Areca Hardware RAID controller, the combination put up some of the fastest RAID performance numbers we've seen in our labs to date.
The P5W64 WS Professional from Asus can be thought of as an extremely high-end solution for the workstation professional, enthusiast or power user. The key feature this board offers over all other 975X chipset-based boards on the market currently, is its integration of the IDT 24 lane PCI Express chip in the design. This switch offers an additional 8 lanes of connectivity in a full length X16 slot, beyond the 22 lanes offered in the 975X chipset. Asus also populated these connections with four full-length X16 style slot connectors, so the potential for running up to four graphics cards is there. However, we'd offer that there is a better use for this extra available bandwidth and connectivity.
Hardware RAID cards haven't become all that popular in the enthusiast or do-it-yourself market mainly because many of the more capable solutions have only been available in a PCI-X flavor. While these slots can be found on many high end workstation and server boards, desktop boards rarely make use of them. And obviously highly integrated software RAID solutions have made much more of an impact in the desktop motherboard market, where price points are critical. We'd suggest that moving forward the game could change somewhat with availability of PCI Express-based RAID cards in the market from the likes of 3Ware, Adaptec, Promise, Areca and others. Frankly, in our opinion, a hardware RAID processor on board offers immediate and tangible performance gains in multi-drive configurations and let's not forget that the storage volume is still by far the slowest subsystem in your workstation, game rig or family computer.
Yes it will run four PCIe graphics cards at once but unless you work on Wall St, what's the point?
Go RAID, Hardware RAID we say...
The Asus P5W64 WS professional we're told will have an MSRP of around $309. Hopefully street prices will fall somewhere south of this. Obviously this is one of the more expensive motherboards on the market right now supporting Intel's Core 2 Duo processor family. We think the cost is warranted somewhat when you consider that there are no other solutions like this motherboard on the market currently. If you're an Intel chipset purist for Core 2 Duo, no other motherboard currently will provide the same expansion capabilities this motherboard does. That's not to say that motherboard manufacturers couldn't flesh out a similar offering based on NVIDIA's nForce 590 SLI Intel Edition or nForce 4 SLI X16 Intel Edition chipsets. However, those boards don't exist on the market today, with anything larger than a X4 slot beyond a pair of X16 PEG slots. Gigabyte's Quad Royal motherboard offered a similar configuration to the Asus P5W64 WS but currently doesn't support Core 2 Duo processors. One other possible option would be Intel's D975XBX "BadAxe" motherboard. This board comes equipped with three PCIe X16 slots and the third slot is connected with a X4 link electrically. You could run either the ARC-1210 RAID card we tested or another PCIe RAID card in that slot and still have room for a pair of graphics cards if you so choose.
In terms of the P5W64's value/performance ROI, when you consider how fast true PCI Express-based hardware RAID is, it's hard not to be impressed regardless of cost. That is of course if your looking for other areas of performance enhancement beyond just throwing more GPUs at your gaming requirements. In the end we're going to give the Asus P5W64 WS Professional a solid 9 on the Heat Meter and our Editor's Choice award for innovation and product excellence but that's not without the caveat of cost in our finally analysis.