Performance Analysis and Our Rating
System Performance Analysis: The Asus P5WD2 was matched rather evenly with two nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition boards, including Asus' own P5ND2-SLI. It also routinely outperformed a reference Intel i955x board and the improved memory bandwidth led it past another reference board based on the previously high-end i925XE chipset.
The Asus P5WD2 Premium Edition's feature set is almost unmatched, with the ICH7R and other on-board controllers combining to offer almost any drive configuration thinkable, including RAID 5 and 10 setups. Although it doesn't support SLI like the nForce 4 boards, there are two graphic card slots available that can be used for quad-view display setups. And who knows, SLI support could be coming in the future. As with other i955X boards, the P5WD2 supports dual-core processors and DDR2-800 memory speed, which should show some measurable performance gains that we hope to be showing you in the months to come. Asus has really jumped out of the stalls here, offering one of the first boards that showcases all that the i955X has to offer.
The AI Life philosophy is one we would like to see permeate into other products. Heat dissipation remains a recurring issue with today's high-powered systems, and the P5WD2 handles this with efficient, quiet measures. Heatsinks over the North and South Bridges as well as over the VRM are worthwhile ideas, although obviously used before, but the Stack Cool 2 layer really comes across as thinking on a different level. In the same vein, providing WiFi connectivity and a TV-Tuner (in the Premium Edition only), on the same card no less, helps make the P5WD2 stand out. Like its namesake, the P5WD2 Premium does come at some cost, currently about $275 in the US market, but we feel that the package and features justify the price (the standard edition without WiFi should list for only $225). We're pleased to award a 9.5 on the HotHardware Heat Meter to the Asus P5WD2 Premium Edition.