The cooling system is pretty massive and takes a lot of room on the PCB. That is why you may have hard times installing massive CPU coolers on Asus P5E. However, we still managed to fit the Scythe Infinity cooler in, although it took a lot of effort, I have to admit.
We cannot complain about the efficiency of this cooling system, it copes well with cooling all major mainboard components. By the way, the Maximus Formula cooling system features almost the same configuration, with that only difference that the heatsinks feature pin-arrays instead of ribbed ones.
For the first time Asus North Bridge heatsink is fastened with spring screws. That is why you can see an aluminum plate on the reverse side of the PCB right beneath the chipset North Bridge. It serves as a backplate in this case.
Luckily, Asus didn’t follow into Gigabyte’s footsteps, and this plate is pretty small, so it will not hinder the installation of any processor cooler featuring a backplate of their own. Although, you will have really hard time trying to remove this simply screwed cooling system from the North Bridge. The thermal pad between the chip and the heatsink is extremely sticky, so it may be a real challenge to tear the heatsink off the chip without damaging the mainboard.
Processor voltage regulator on Asus P5E boasts traditional 8-phase design. However it works on a new ADP3228 controller that is actually called EPU (Energy Processing Unit).
The peculiarity of voltage regulator circuitry on Asus P5E is the dynamic switching between 8 phases depending on the processor voltage consumption. In case of low CPU utilization its power consumption is also low and the four-phase algorithm is employed. All eight phases get involved only in aggressive work modes, when the processor power consumption increases. Asus engineers hope that this trick will help them reduce the power losses in the processor voltage regulator circuitry thus reducing the power consumption of Asus P5E based platforms. However, you shouldn’t think that this will save you a lot of power. The marketing promise of 56.8% is nothing but a rosy myth working to catch unsophisticated users.
The overall PCB design is very good. All connectors are located very conveniently, SATA and PATA ports are even turned parallel to the PCB. The only thing I have to point out is the location of the Clear CMOS switch (yes, it is a switch indeed, not a jumper), as the installed graphics card will prevent you from reaching it.
The mainboard rear panel carries 6 USB 2.0 ports, Firewire connector, Gigabit network port, PS/2 keyboard connector, a coaxial and optical sound output ports. All six analogue sound connectors are laid out on SupremeFX II card. There are so few connectors on the mainboard rear panel, because most of the space there is taken by the air exhaust for the chipset cooling system. I have to point out that all recent Asus mainboards, including P5E, have no second PS/2 connector for the mouse, so keep it in mind when putting your system together.
By the way, I would like to draw your attention to one more “brand name” peculiarity of the P5E mainboard design: DIMM slots shifted away from the PCB edge. They did it because of the dual-phase memory voltage regulator located right above the DDr2 slots. However, it didn’t affect the convenience of working with the mainboard since there is enough room between the DIMMs and the graphics card.