Asus P5Q3 ReviewRA1D -
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If you are a regualr OverclockersClub review reader, you'll recognize the layout of the P5Q3 as it is almost identical to the P5Q Pro motherboard I reviewed earlier this month. In fact, the only aesthetic difference between the two boards is the color of the DIMM sockets while the rest of the components are indistinguishable. And just as I said in the P5Q Pro review, the board has a great layout. Asus continues to use black PCB which looks absolutely fantastic. The majority of the data and power connection ports are placed along the edge of the board which provides easier installation and removal of cables and aids in cable management. I would like to see a couple more fan headers on the P5Q3, preferably near the SATA ports and another one by the memory sockets. As it stands now, if you were to use a memory cooler, the nearest fan header is located by the rear panel connectors.
The P5Q3 gives you four memory sockets that support 512MB, 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB of unbuffered non-ECC DDR3 modules each. You'll be able to use a total of 16GB of DDR3-1800 memory which would come in handy in RAM intensive tasks. Just don't forget to utilize a 64-bit operating system if installing more than 4GB of memory. Asus recommends installing RAM in the orange slots for increased overclocking ability.
The CPU socket area provides enough open area to make use of aftermarket heatsinks. The capacitors found near the socket are low lying and should not present any compatibility issues.
The P5Q3 supports ATI's CrossFireX technology and gives you two PCI Express 2.0 slots. Each slot provides 16 lanes individually but reduces down to 8 lanes in CrossFire mode. You also get three PCI-E x1 slots and two PCI slots to increase your expansion options.
Asus used vertically positioned SATA ports on this board which may cause a headache down the road. If a long, dual slot graphics card is installed in the black PCI-E slot, you will lose the use of four SATA ports. Additionally, if the expansion card used in either PCI slot is very long, then the loss of more SATA port availability may arise. I wish all motherboards used the right angled SATA ports placed along the edge, like the ones found on the high end motherboards that Asus manufactures.
The rear panel sports every port you could possibly need. You get both a coaxial and optical S/PDIF connector, an eSATA, and six USB ports among others. Its nice to see the eSATA show up on the P5Q3 as it was missing on the P5Q Pro model.