PCB Design and Functionality
Asus P7H57D-V EVO mainboard looks quite common and resembles its predecessors. Namely, you can notice a lot of similarities with Asus P7P55D Deluxe, which we have already reviewed before.
However, this common looks is in fact the uniqueness of the new Asus P7H57D-V EVO. The mere fact that it comes bundled with an SLI bridge suggests that it supports not only dual-card ATI CrossFire configurations, but also Nvidia SLI configurations. How is this possible, since the official specifications indicate that the new chipsets do not allow splitting the 16 PCI Express lanes assigned to the graphics card into two sets of 8 lanes? The explanation is connected with the PCI Express controller that is no longer in the chipset but in the CPU. We can’t change Clarkdale processor, but if we use a Lynnfield CPU, then we can have two ATI or Nvidia graphics cards working at 8x speed. It is an excellent solution that shows clearly Asus Engineers’ extreme professionalism as well as out-of-the-box thinking. Asus P7H57D-V EVO mainboard is a universal solution, it boasts much more diverse functionality than any other solution out there. If your system is equipped with a Clarkdale processor, you may use their integrated graphics or a discrete accelerator, while with Lynnfield CPUs you can tie two graphics accelerators into Nvidia SLI or ATI CrossFire configuration.
It is interesting that other manufacturers have solutions on the new chipsets with two graphics card slots on them, while Asus P7H57D-V EVO is the only mainboard like that, all others have only one graphics card connector. Why? It is not necessary to have all mainboards support Nvidia SLI, ATI CrossFire may be more than enough and it won’t require any special effort. Since we already had MSI H57M-ED65 mainboard at our disposal (which review will be ready shortly), we decided to try and answer this question. It is sad that the only thing you can find on MSI web-site and in the mainboard user manual is the fact that it features two second generation PCI Express x16 slots and supports ATI CrossFire, but there is no mention of the operational speeds when there are two graphics cards installed into the system. We managed to find some answers from Gigabyte. Unlike MSI, Gigabyte is not afraid to provide detailed information on their company web-site and in the mainboard manuals. It truend out that there is a good reason why Gigabyte calls their second graphics card slot PCIEX4_X1. If it is on an Intel H57 Express based mainboard, it works at x4 speed, while on Intel H55 Express based boards it is limited to x1 speed. Moreover, the first PCI Express 2.0 x16 connector will switch to x4 speed once you install the second graphics card.
Now it is clear why there is only one graphics card slot on all other Asus mainboards built around the new chipsets. Because only with one graphics card in the system, we can get it to work at a decent speed. In fact, two graphics card connectors on the new mainboards will mislead the users. These mainboards support ATI CrossFire technology only formally, because with serious speed limitations like that it will hardly ever be used. The only exception is our today’s hero, Asus P7H57D-V EVO, because it is the only one that can guarantee the same quality of ATI CrossFire and Nvidia SLI support as on Intel P55 Express based mainboards, if you are working with one of Lynnfield processors.
Numerous onboard controllers significantly expand the functionality of Asus P7H57D-V EVO mainboard. First I have to name Marvell 88SE9123 controller that adds two SATA 6 Gbps ports and a NEC D720200F1 controller that puts two USB 3.0 ports on the mainboard back panel. They use Marvell 88SE6111 controller to provide Parallel ATA support. The same controller implements eSATA (SATA on-the-go) port on the back panel. Besides, there is VIA VT6308P IEEE1394 controller, Realtek RTL8112L Gigabit network controller and Realtek ALC889 eight-channel sound codec. Speaking of additional onboard controllers we can’t help mentioning PLX PEX 8608 chip, of course. It ensures that USB 3.0 and SATA III controllers are all connected using high-speed interfaces and provides support for an additional PCI Express 2.0 x1 connector (the lower dark-blue connector). Contemporary hard drives do not really care much about the latest 6 Gbps SATA, but the performance of USB 3.0 devices does depend a lot on the implementation. In the future we are going to include the performance of available USB 3.0 ports into our mainboard testing suite.
The mainboard back panel has the following ports and connectors:
- PS/2 keyboard connector;
- HDMI, DVI-D and D-Sub connectors that can only work with Clarkdale processors with integrated graphics core;
- Six USB ports, including two USB 3.0 ports, eight more are laid out as four onboard pin-connectors;
- Six analogue audio jacks and an optical S/PDIF provided by eight-channel Realtek ALC889 codec;
- IEEE1394 (FireWire) port implemented via VIA VT6308P controller, the second port is available as an onboard pin-connector;
- eSATA port is provided by Marvell 88SE6111 controller that is also responsible for Parallel ATA devices support;
- Local network port (network adapter is built around Realtek RTL8112L controller).
Although there are quite a few additional controllers, the mainboard layout is very convenient, as you can see from the components layout chart below:
Asus P7H57D-V EVO, just like other contemporary Asus mainboards, retained its design peculiarities, such as wide lock latches on graphics card connectors or DIMM slot locks on only one side of the slot. We would like to conclude our discussion of the mainboard layout and functionality with the detailed list of its technical specifications:
Intel® Socket 1156 Core™ i7 Processor/Core™ i5 Processor/Core™ i3 Processor/ Pentium® Processor
Intel® H57 Express Chipset
4 x DIMM, Max. 16 GB, DDR3 2133(O.C.)*/1600/1333/1066 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (single at x16 or dual at x8/x8 mode)
Multi-VGA output support: HDMI, DVI-D, RGB
Supports ATI® Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Intel® H57 Express Chipset built-in
Realtek® 8112L Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2
Realtek® ALC889 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
VIA® 6308P controller supports 2 x 1394a port(s) (one at mid-board; one at back panel)
NEC® USB 3.0 controller:
ASUS Unique Features
Unique PCIe X4 Bridge Chip for Ultra Performance
Precision Tweaker 2
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x DVI
Internal I/O Connectors
4 x USB connectors support additional 8 USB ports
64 Mb Flash ROM , AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
WfM 2.0,DMI 2.0,WOL by PME,WOR by PME,PXE
ATX Form Factor