It's now onto the board itself. ASUS has gone with its traditional black PCB which all their high-end and ROG boards are based on, while using a red, black and white colour scheme for the slots and expansion ports.
The layout is extremely neat and tidy. ASUS has placed the 24-pin power connector behind the four DDR3 memory slots on the left hand edge of the board. The 4/8 pin EPS power connector is located just above the CPU socket at the top edge of the board near the Mosfets. This does give easy access if you need to remove the cable. However, it does put an extra cable in the path of the heatsink as well.
Power for the CPU comes through a solid state 16 phase voltage regulation system for the CPU alone. ASUS has split the power for the QPI/UnCore off and given it a two phase voltage regulation system which also powers the DDR3 memory; keeping things as stable as possible leads to good overclocking. To keep things cool the Mosfets are cooled by a heatpipe assembly that also cools the P55 Northbridge chip.
At the lower right of the board ASUS puts all of its storage connectors. The first thing to mention is if you have any IDE drives you want to use with this board, you're completely out of luck unless you have an IDE to SATA converter of your own. There are no IDE ports on the board.
On the right hand edge there are six SATA ports coloured in grey. These are routed off the P55 single chip and support RAID 0/1/5/0+1 and JBOD. The two red ports at the bottom are controlled by one of the two JMB368 controller chips. The second JMB controller chip runs the eSATA port on the rear I/O.
On the rear I/O things are rather spartan. You have a single PS/2 port, nine USB ports, eSATA, Ethernet and a FireWire port. You can also see two switches; the one located near the PS/2 port is the BIOS reset switch. The lower one is for ROG connect. What this does is allows you to overclock your system and monitor it from another computer connected to your Ethernet port.
Last but not least are the expansion slots. There are in total five PCI Express slots. There are two PCIe x1 slots. The top most slot acts as a PCIe slot, but is also the slot you connect the audio daughter board into if you plan to use it. When it's connected it reverts to a proprietary audio interface slot.
The remaining PCIe slots are x16 video card slots; two red ones and a white. The two red ones run off the PCIe controller in the Lynnfield processor itself and work as either a full x16 slot when one graphics card is used or splits into two x8 slots if you want SLI or CrossFire. The last PCIe x16 slot coloured white is actually a x4 slot running on the P55's PCIe lanes. Lastly, for legacy connections there are two PCI slots.