Articles: Mainboards

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PCB Design and Features

Comparing the P8P67 Deluxe with the P8P67 Pro mainboard we tested earlier, we can see a number of common traits between them. The similarity might be expected since these are top-end and midrange products in the same series from the same manufacturer. On the other hand, we can see some significant differences in their PCB design.

The most notable difference is the additional heatsink in the middle of the P8P67 Deluxe. We’ve already seen LGA1156 and LGA1155 mainboards with this cooling system design which may be used for two reasons. One and the more rational reason is that there is some hot onboard controller, like an Nvidia NF200, underneath the heatsink. The second reason is that this is just a means of increasing the total heat dissipation area of the cooling system. Here, we've got the second reason because the heatsink is not installed above some chip. The only thing that strikes me as odd is that the presence of such a heatsink on the Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD5-B3, for example, can be explained by unification. Gigabyte's product range includes the GA-Z68X-UD7-B3 model which has the same cooling system and really needs the central heatsink to cool an Nvidia NF200 controller. So why not use the same cooling for the Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD5-B3, especially as the heatsinks are all fastened with screws, combined into a single whole with heat pipes and deliver high cooling performance? When it comes to ASUS, there is no other mainboard that would actually need that central heatsink. Moreover, it is securely fastened with screws right to the PCB whereas the two heatsinks on the CPU voltage regulator have spring-loaded plastic locks only. A heat pipe connects the central heatsink to only one of the additional heatsinks whereas the other ones have to do their duties on their own. Thus, the usefulness of the central heatsink is rather questionable even though it cannot be counted among the mainboard's shortcomings.

Going further in our comparison of the P8P67 Deluxe with the P8P67 Pro, we can see that the Deluxe version has a more advanced CPU voltage regulator. It represents a 16+2 formula instead of the Pro's 12+1. The memory subsystem specs seem to be identical: four slots, up to 32 gigabytes, dual-channel architecture. However, the available frequency range has been expanded in the BIOS and now stretches from 800 up to 2400 MHz. The selection of expansion slots is the same: two PCI, two PCI Express 2.0 x1 and three PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots. The first graphics slot works in full-speed PCIe 2.0 x16 mode or shares the 16 lanes with the second graphics slot (8 lanes for each). The third graphics slot has only 4 PCIe lanes. The two mainboards have about the same number of onboard controllers but the controllers themselves are different. The P8P67 Deluxe has two Renesas (NEC) D720200F1 chips, one of which implements the two back-panel USB 3.0 ports and another allows to put two such ports onto the front panel of your system case by means of the included 3.5-inch unit. Besides the two SATA 6 Gbps and four SATA 3 Gbps ports provided by the chipset, there are two SATA 6 Gbps ports supported by a Marvell 88SE9128 controller. The two eSATA 3 Gbps ports on the back panel are based on a JMicron JMB362 chip. One of them is Power eSATA and can power up the connected device. A VIA 6315N chip is responsible for the mainboard’s two IEEE1394 (FireWire) ports. There is now a second LAN connector and a Clear CMOS button on the back panel.

Here is a full list of the mainboard’s back-panel elements:

  • PS/2 connector for keyboard or mouse;
  • Eight USB 2.0 ports, four more USB ports are available as two onboard pin-connectors;
  • Two USB 3.0 ports (blue connectors) implemented via Renesas (NEC) D720200F1 controller, the second controller like that provides support for two more internal USB 3.0 ports;
  • Coaxial and optical S/PDIF and six analogue audio-jacks provided by eight-channel Realtek ALC889 codec;
  • IEEE1394 (FireWire) port implemented via VIA 6315N controller, the second port is available as an onboard pin-connector;
  • Power eSATA 3 Gbps ports (green connectors) and eSATA 3 Gbps ports implemented via JMicron JMB362 controller;
  • Clear CMOS button
  • Two local network ports (network adapters are built on Gigabit Intel WG82579 and Realtek RTL8111E controllers).

We can spot a number of ASUS-exclusive features on the mainboard. For example, the highlighted Power and Reset buttons are complemented with a MemOK! button which ensures that your system boots up even if there are problems with your memory modules. There are handy and wide locks on the graphics slots whereas the memory slots have locks on one side only. The Q-LED system will indicate you the step on which the boot-up process has halted. The TPU switch (TurboV Processing Unit) serves to overclock the CPU automatically whereas the EPU switch (Energy Processing Unit) enables energy-efficient features. The P8P67 Deluxe also has a POST code indicator which is missing on the Pro version.

The capabilities of the ASUS P8P67 Deluxe are listed in the following table for your reference:

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