ASUS P6X58D-E Motherboard ReviewRHKCommander959 -
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With the motherboard out of the box we can get a look at the layout. Everything seems like it is intelligently placed except perhaps the front panel audio connection in the bottom left corner. The power circuitry has heat sinks, the Northbridge and Southbridge both have decent heat sinks on them as well. Adding fans to all but the Southbridge heat sink should be pretty easy. The Northbridge heat sink has a piece that comes down into the PCI Express x1 slot area and reads "Xtreme Phase", with this piece of heat sink in the way and the closed-end x1 slot people will be limited to using x1 lane-length cards in this slot without modification, it is possible that with some modding on the end of the x1 slot that a x4 length card could be added. This is only significant if the x16 slots are being used for triple video card configurations or other items. The EPS 8-pin power connection is located at the top of the motherboard near the PS/2 port, and the 24-pin connection is at the edge next to the memory slots, both fairly standard positions for LGA 1366 motherboards. The CPU socket area is fairly open and the few capacitors remotely close are low profile and should make mounting large heat sinks, phase, Peltier, dry ice/liquid nitrogen pots, or other large based cooling blocks easy. Checking the back side we see that there is a back plate for the longer of the two upper heat sinks, it is important to have these as without a back plate typically the PCB will bend and cause the middle chips to not get cooled down. Other than that the standard Intel processor back plate is there, and we see that the chipset doesn't have a back plate either but it isn't nearly as important here since only one piece needs cooling rather than a row of parts and is thus easier to make contact with.
Since Intel decided to go with a pin-less processor, they forced motherboard manufacturers to put them in the socket and this created the need for them to add protective caps to keep the pins from being damaged. Personally I found it easier to fix or unbend processor pins but I have yet to bend any motherboard pins so the idea might be working! The area around the socket is fairly open and should allow large based cooling solutions to readily mount to the processor even if it has been lapped. The memory slots are spaced normally, with three sticks of memory it should be easy to mount more extreme versions of memory cooling such as water. At the top of the motherboard is the MemOK! button that sets the memory to fail-safe speeds.
The motherboard I/o panel is similar to other motherboards with PS/2 port for mouse and keyboard, push-button CMOS clear switch, USB 3.0, SPDIF, USB 2.0, IEEE 1394 Firewire, LAN, and six ports for surround sound audio. The motherboard has eight SATA ports - six on 90° connections and two standing connections. The two white ones are the SATA 6.0Gb/s ports.
The Southbridge heatsink looks like anodized aluminum and uses plastic clips to attach to the motherboard. Next to the CMOS cell on the left is the TurboV chip. Two USB front panel ports are next to the two separate SATA ports. The front panel wires are at the very corner. An IEEE 1394 front panel port sits directly underneath the last PCI Express x16 slot, to the left is a patch where a buzzer could be installed. Further left is the on board power button - handy for testing the board without the case buttons hooked up or in a test bed. The left corner has the front panel audio which is a stretch for most cases to make. The board has three PCI Express x16 slots, one PCI Express x1 slot, and two PCI slots all of which are staggered to allow triple graphics card use while the top slot can be used with a RAID card, LAN card, or sound card.
The P6X58D-E had plenty of heatsinks installed - two for the power circuitry, one for the Northbridge and one for the Southbridge. All of it seems to be anodized aluminum and the two middle heatsinks are the only ones to use bolts, the other two use plastic push-pins. One of the two VRM heatsinks also gets a backplate to help stiffen the PCB from flexing and keep the middle electronics cool.
On to the software to get the board running!