ASUS P5B Deluxe
Our first board on the chopping block is the ASUS P5B Deluxe which sits at the top of the list of boards in the ASUS P965 range of boards. While P965 is a mainstream chipset, ASUS has gone all out and fitted this board up to the performance level of things. The board is a black full ATX sized PCB, which is what ASUS uses for its performance boards; they all come in the black/brown colour. Connector placement, ASUS has gone all out here and done a fantastic job.
ASUS has a clean CPU socket with an 8 phase power distribution system which should aid CPU overclocking quite nicely. The Mosfets on the left side of the board are cooled by a heat pipe that also cools the Northbridge chip; all this goes a long way to keeping the system as quiet as possible. The Southbridge has only a heat sink on it and is cooled passively again aiding in quiet computing.
The rear I/O for ASUS has slightly changed. There is the inclusion of a COM port above 2 SPDIF ports, the e.SATA port now has a Firewire port above it and at the end there is the new WiFi module that ASUS is now shipping with its deluxe models. This module is actually a USB controlled system that plugs onto a header on the board, so it doesn't take up any PCI or PCIE buses.
Now we hit the last stop on our ASUS tour, the expansion slots and additional features the ASUS board provides. There are 2 PCI Express x16 slots which are used for Crossfire support or multiple monitors if you want to use nVidia graphics cards. There is a single PCI Express x1 slot and 3 PCI slots.
For additional features there are 2 Marvell PCI Express Gigabit LAN controllers. A JMicron Controller that runs the e.SATA port and the IDE channel on the board and a Texas Instruments Firewire controller chip which rounds out the extensive features list.