Inside the Box
First off it's the box and presentation. The box itself is the black high performance scheme that ASUS uses for its Premium boards in its portfolio. The front has very limited info on the board - just the model number.
The back of the box contains all the information on the board, its features and picture of the board layout.
Now to the documentation. ASUS provides a single user manual that covers all of the hardware, BIOS settings and software settings that they provide.
Software comes on two CD's. The first is the driver CD that contains all the setup drivers you need for the board as well as pre load drivers for XP, XP64 and 2000. The extra CD pack has Intervideo software on it that ASUS now bundles with its board - includes WinDVD and WinPVR for recording to PC.
Now it's onto the cables and the extra little features that make the package. First off the ribbon cables are a single IDE and FDD cable along with the SLI bridge cable.
ASUS provides two PCI backplane risers. One is a single port Firewire port bracket and the other is a 2 port USB 2.0 port bracket. You will also see there are three jumper blocks. ASUS now provides these so you can connect the cable up if you have to wire the USB, Firewire and front panel LED/switches externa to the board. This means you only have to plug this block into the board once you have managed to wire up the LED's and switches along with front panel USB and Firewire, an extremely helpful feature.
ASUS also takes the liberty of including a SoundMAX 2 stage microphone with the bundle. This means if you want to use software VOIP or playing games that have voice, you can without having to go out and buy a separate mic setup.
ASUS provides for the water cooling user in their premium bundles. There are two sets of fans that plug onto the top of the heat pipes surrounding the CPU. When you install water cooling, there is no air flow from the CPU fan, as this gets removed from the equation. In order to keep the air flow going to cool the Mosfets, these fans need to be installed to the top of the heat blocks.
Also included for the Wireless network feature is an omni-directional antenna with a 6dBA gain rating that will let you pick up wireless throughout the most obstructed household setup or office environment.
Last in the features is the Audio riser board. Since ASUS ran out of room on the rear I/O port, a separate daughter board that plugs into a slot at the top of the board that resembles a PCI Express x1 slot is used to put all 6 Stereo audio, Front panel audio header and CD input headers. The codec chip is also moved to the board itself, so if you prefer a discrete audio card like an Audigy card, simply leave this board out of the system and the onboard audio will not function.
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