The most exciting feature of ASUS P5W DH Deluxe is the implementation of Serial ATA interfaces. The first thing that catches your eye is that there are only three SATA-300 connectors that lead directly to the ICH7R South Bridge, while the chip clearly supports four ports. The explanation of this phenomenon lies with the Silicon Image 4723 chip that is none other but a dual-port Serial ATA-300 controller connected to one of the Serial ATA-300 interfaces of the board. In other words, one of the ICH7R ports is allocated for the controller offering two additional ports. This two-level connection has one very important advantage: the RAID arrays built with Silicon Image 4723 controller do not require any driver installation, thus making initialization very simple and quick. This is how ASUS implemented EZ-Backup function: if you connect two identical hard disk drives to the SATA-300 ports of the Silicon Image controller, you will automatically get a RAID 1 array. In fact, this controller also supports RAID 0, however, the use of this array type will not be the most optimal solution in this case. If you connect two hard disk drives via the same single Serial ATA interface, it will limit their performance.
There is another Serial ATA controller onboard ASUS P5W DH Deluxe: JMicron JMB363. This chip supports one PATA-100 interface and two SATA-300 ports. One of the ports has been laid out on the mainboard PCB, while another one is available on the mainboard back panel as eSATA connector. This way, the mainboard offers the total of 7 SATA-300 ports and 2 PATA-100 ports. And you will be able to create RAID 0, 1, 5 and 0+1 from the hard disk drives connected to this mainboard.
Of course, it was a hard task for the designers to conveniently locate all these controllers on the mainboard PCB. However we should give them proper credit for they have done a great job: we don’t have anything to criticize about the PCB layout. On the contrary, there are a few evident advantages that deserve our special mention.
First of all, we would like to stress the convenient location of all expansion slots. Although there are quite a few PCI and PCI Express slots on the PCB, the DIMM slots latches do not catch on the installed graphics cards. Moreover, PCI Express x16 slots are placed at quite a distance from one another, thus ensuring better thermal conditions in case of two graphics cards installed.
The second advantage of ASUS P5W DH Deluxe is a high-quality eight-phase processor voltage regulator built with Nichicon electrolytic capacitors.
The third great feature is the smart heat dissipation scheme for all high-heating components of the mainboard. The chipset South Bridge is covered with a low-profile copper heatsink. The chipset North Bridge is equipped with a much larger copper heatsink. Besides they used a heatpipe to connect it to the copper heatsink of the processor voltage regulator circuitry. In order to avoid using any active cooling (and the i975X chipset starts heating up quite noticeably when working with 266MHz FSB), the heatsink of the CPU voltage regulator is positioned in such a way that the airflow from the processor cooler reaches it and cools down. ASUS even took care of those users who have passive CPU cooling solution or a liquid-cooling system installed. The mainboard is bundled with an additional fan that can be installed onto the heatsink behind the processor socket if needed.
The back panel of the ASUS P5W DH Deluxe mainboard is pretty standard for contemporary solutions. It carries four High-Speed USB ports, two RJ45 network connectors, FireWire port, PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse, six audio-jacks, a coaxial and an optical SPDIF outs, one serial port and a WiFi antenna connector.