Articles: Mainboards

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Mainboard Functionality

ASUS P5Q Pro is a typical Intel P45 Express based mainboard. It doesn’t surprise us with its PCB layout or unique functionality. According to the chipset specification, it features 4 DDR2 DIMM slots paired according to the supported channel and two PCI Express x16 2.0 slots working as x8 + x8 in a CrossFire configuration. Besides, the board offers two traditional PCI slots and three PCI Express x1 slots.

The chipset delivers support for 6 SATA ports at 3Gbps. Two more ports are provided by Silicon Image SiI5723 supporting Drive Xpert technology. The only PATA-133 interface is implemented via an additional Marvell 88SE6111 controller.

The chipset also provides support for 12 USB 2.0 ports - six of them are laid out on the connector panel. However, ICH10R used on ASUS P5Q Pro as a South Bridge doesn’t support IEEE1394 ports. Therefore, there is an additional dual-port Firewire controller – LSI L-FW3227.

Add-on chips also provide Gigabit network connector (Atheros AR8121) and 8-channel integrated sound tract (Realtek ALC1200). Both these chips are pretty interesting. Atheros AR8121 is the smallest PCI Express Gigabit network controller, while Realtek ALC1200 codec is manufactured specifically for ASUS. ASUS has finally decided to replace the sound solutions from Analog Devices they have used all along with more popular Realtek codecs. However, since it is a pretty exclusive solution, we couldn’t find any technical details about it. Instead we can offer you the test results for this codec in 16bit 44kHz mode:

Since ASUS P5Q Pro has no unique functions, its connector panel is pretty common too. There are six USB 2.0 ports, six analogue audio-jacks, coaxial SPDIF Out, Gigabit network port, 6-pin IEEE1394 connector and PS/2 connectors for keyboard and mouse.

Another IEEE1394 connector, 6 USB 2.0 ports and a serial COM-port are laid out as pin-connectors on the PCB.

The processor, memory and chipset voltage regulator circuitry is laid out pretty commonly, too. While top P5Q mainboards use a 16-phase CPU voltage regulator and triple-phase voltage regulators for the memory and MCH, our today’s hero P5Q Pro is designed in a much simpler way. The processor voltage regulator has 8 phases, while the memory and chipset North Bridge use dual-phase regulators. However, this limitation didn’t touch upon the quality of the components. Just like expensive ASUS boards, ASUS P5Q Pro uses solid-state Japanese capacitors with polymer electrolyte and high-frequency Low RDS(on) MOSFET.

Of course, the brand name ASUS EPU (Energy Processing Unit) chip is also there. It switches the processor voltage regulator circuitry into dual-phase mode upon a signal from the corresponding managing utility. Therefore the board is bundled with ASUS Six Engine utility, which is also responsible for switching the processor voltage regulator into a more economical mode under low workload.

However, unfortunately, this utility doesn’t do its job too well. Namely, it doesn’t work if the CPU is overclocked.

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