Articles: Mainboards

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Mainboard Functionality

At first glance ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe has somewhat strange PCB design. The thing is that ASUS engineers for some reason moved all memory DIMM slots to the center of the PCB lower than usual, so the traditional layout got messed up. However, this non-traditional location of the DIMM slots only affected the second and third PCI Express slots that appeared next to one another. As a result, the third slot cannot accommodate any graphics cards with massive cooling systems at all, while a card with a dual-slot cooler in the second slot will block the third slot completely. Other than that, assembling a system on ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe mainboard should be problem-free. All connectors are very smartly placed. Besides, those connectors that could potentially be blocked by the graphics card are turned parallel to the PCB.

So why did they move the DIMM slots? Maybe ASUS engineers decided to implement a three-phase memory voltage regulator that took all the free room above the DIMM slots. I have to say that this complex DDR3 memory voltage regulator circuitry is still very rare nowadays. In fact, we only saw something similar on an ASUS P5E3 Premium mainboard based on Intel X48.

In fact, ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe design suggests that the number of phases in voltage regulators of various mainboard knots turned into a sort of fetish for ASUS engineers. For example, Intel P45 chipset North Bridge has a triple-phase voltage regulator, although no one ever used anything like that for MCH before. We hope these sophisticated engineering solutions are serving not only marketing purposes, but can also affect the mainboard stability and overclocking potential.

However, the cherry on top was actually the processor voltage regulator on ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe: it consists of 16 phases. We have never seen so many phases in CPU voltage regulators on LGA775 mainboards. According to ASUS, it reduces the MSFET load, their heat dissipation and energy losses dramatically. I also have to add that the processor voltage regulator circuitry is managed by ASUS EPU chip (Energy Processing Unit) that dynamically reduces the number of active phases to four under low electrical load.

In fact, we are eager to question the need for processor voltage regulators with such huge number of phases. There are a lot of boards out there that do perfectly fine with six-phase regulators, and still offer great stability and overclocking potential. It is much more important in this case to make sure that only high-quality electrical components are used. However, we cannot complain about any of that on ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe. The board uses solid-state Japanese capacitors with polymer electrolyte and high-frequency MOSFET.

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