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Review: ASUS P5W64 WS Professional

by Ryszard Sommefeldt on 7 September 2006, 10:41

Tags: ASUS P5W64 WS Professional, ASUSTeK (TPE:2357)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qagpl

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While i975X doesn't support NVIDIA SLI (yet!), it does support ATI Crossfire and it's the 8-layer and 8-phase power board's 16-0-4-0 mode that ASUS apparently recommend for optimal Crossfire performance. In 8-8-4-8 mode it seems to work fine with boards in slots 1 and 3 (8 and 4 lanes, and tested with X1950s), but we've not had the chance to check ultimate performance versus the 16-0-4-0 mode.

Other than the stacked PEG slots, next to each other with no gaps, there's seriously little that the P5W64 does wrong layout wise, in our opinion at least. We justify that opinion by pointing out that the power (EATX + SSI) connectors are on board edges and away from the CPU socket area, the SATA connectors are almost completely free from massively long VGA boards in PEG slots 3 and 4, pin header connectors are on the bottom board edge and all the heatsinks on the board are either very low profile and don't foul on anything, or are outside fenced-off areas enough to not matter (i975X northbridge).

Floppy and ATA connectors are placed pleasingly on board edges, and the passive heatpipe cooler for i975X IC and CPU VRMs doesn't impinge on anything crucial. What else, honestly, should a high-end board do better in terms of layout? There may be flaws for some chassis layouts, depending on where disks are situated, and you might install very long VGA boards that block the use of some SATA connectors, but really there should be very little to complain about.

The DIMM slots are close enough to PEG slot 1 so as to possibly necessitate the removal of a board in that in order to change memory configuration, but our experience is to the contrary. Indeed, with a long graphics card with backside PCB area that's free of components beneath the DIMM slot catches, you can reasonably change all the memory modules without removing said board. Sweet.

Get your 16-0-4-0 Crossfire on and both PCIc slots remain free for use, which pretty much rocks. We'll talk about that a bit more shortly.

The backplane holds no real surprises, given the spec on the previous page at least. Dual GigE LAN and at least a few USB2.0 ports had to end up somewhere! They're joined by the eSATA connected to the Marvell controller, and the optical output from the Analog Devices 8-channel HD Audio CODEC, as well as the analogue outputs too of course.

The rear of the board takes the familiar appearance of a board made by ASUS and employing its StackCool PCB layering system. StackCool supposedly works to more effectively cool the board by removing heat at rearward hotspots, mostly around the CPU, VRM and memory module areas.


We don't usually comment on board appearance, what with one man's good looking mainboard being one man's Liberace suit copy, but when we're talking about a board so high-end we feel obliged to say something. This board should be black. Black like the night. With black slots, black heatsinks, black anodised CPU socket and black capacitors. Yes, we go overboard on the dark stuff, but our preference would definitely lean to a 'signature' P5W64 WS Pro that's largely "#00000";, with possibly some silver highlights and the definite removal of the cheap and (on our sample at least) peeling stickers for "Quartet" and "ASUS Workstation", should such a thing come to pass of course.

That'd look awesome, right? Right? Just our two cents, but after the good looking -- and we realise that everyone's aesthetic taste is different -- Intel D975XBX, we wish the P5W64 WS Pro had gone down the same dark and moody path towards looks.

Let's figure bundle and whatnot before we go nuts on performance.