ASUS P6X58-E WS ReviewRHKCommander959 - September 6, 2011
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With the board exposed out in the open you can see five PCI Express x16 slots, eight SATA ports, six memory ports, and a bunch of pins at the bottom! Four heat sinks cool the chipsets and MOSFETs, these heat sinks are shown in higher detail further down. The board is mostly blue, black, and white/chrome and should fit in well with most systems. The area around the processor is open enough to allow for most cooling possibilities. The back of the board is standard, nothing special here and no back plates used other than the required one for the CPU socket. That means all of the heat sinks are held on with push-pins. The overall layout of the board is standard fair for x58 motherboards.
The CPU socket region is clear enough to mount pretty much any cooling system. The only components nearby are low-profile capacitors and chokes. Sub-ambient cooling solution users should have plenty of room for insulation with the retention mechanism removed, otherwise they may have some small trouble with the top four capacitors. The stock Intel heat sink used on i7 processors is round with a copper slug in the center and aluminum fins. The shape of the heat sink and its push-pin mounting system is outlined on the motherboard. A small CPU diagnostic LED sits about half an inch below the bottom left heat sink mounting hole. Moving on to the memory slots, these use a single-clip style memory socket. To use this you open the clip and slide the memory in — the notched clip doesn't move. There is an auxiliary-power Molex connection at the top of the memory and nearby it is a jumper to increase the BIOS limitation of voltage to the CPU for enthusiast overclockers. Two PWM fan headers are near the bottom left (CPU Fan) and top right (Chassis Fan 2) in this picture. The tiny blue diagnostic LED sits near the sixth memory slots' notched clip and the end of the 24-pin ATX connection. One oddity shows here — the ATX connection is very off-white and sticks out next to the white components.
The I/O panel at the rear has a combined PS/2 port that can use either a mouse or keyboard and two USB 2.0 ports. Next are two S/PDIF digital audio connectors: the orange slot is a RCA connection and the lower is a TOSLINK optical fiber connection. The next 'tower' is one of the two Intel Gigabit LAN ports stacked on to two USB 2.0 outputs. A Firewire 1394 port and two USB 2.0 ports sit between both LAN ports, the second of which sits atop the two USB 3.0 ports that are blue to help distinguish them from the 2.0 ports. Last for the I/O port is the audio module with outputs from top-left going down and then from the top right going down: Center/Subwoofer, Rear Speaker, Side Speaker, Line In, Line Out, and Mic In. Six more USB 2.0 ports are supported by the motherboard by three pin-outs at the bottom of the board. The Intel chipset provides six blue SATA 2.0 ports and ASUS has elected to include another chipset to add two grayish SATA 3.0 ports that are backwards compatible.
There are five PCI Express x16 length slots, the ones in blue are true x16 slots while the black ones provide x8. There is also a white x1 slot at the bottom. The first Chassis fan header is in front of the first x16 slot while the PLL chip is next to the 3rd and 4th PCIe x16 slot. A VGA diagnostic LED sits under the first x16 slot at the bottom right corner. The very bottom of the motherboard has many different pin-outs. Starting from the left is a S/PDIF output and front panel audio. Next is a Firewire 1394 and three USB 2.0 outputs in black and blue respectively. Following that is where the TPM diagnostic module would plug in and the third Chassis fan header. Above the fan header is a jumper with instructions saying "1-2:3 Pin DC Fan, 2-3:4 Pin PWM Fan" meaning when the jumper is positioned on pins 1 and 2 the headers are setup for standard 3-wire fans, and when jumping pins 2 and 3 is setup for PWM 4-wire fans. Jumping over the CMOS battery are two more jumpers: one for clearing the CMOS and is labeled D with instructions to the right of the 4th and 5th PCIe x16 slots. Last is the front panel wiring — this is made much easier when installing the wires directly to the Q-Connector device and then plugging them in as one group! Not far up and between the SATA ports and Workstation heat sink there is a small LED for diagnosing drive errors. Two jumpers labeled C sit right above the SATA 3.0 ports, these are for raising DRAM Bus voltage and QPI voltage limits for extreme overclocking when combined with the CPU voltage pin in paragraph 2! The "Workstation" heat sink cools both the ICH Southbridge and NF200 chipsets while the second heat sink that reads "ASUS" cools the IOH Northbridge.
The third heat sink is the last of the three connected by heat pipe. This is designed similar to CPU and VGA heat sinks where the fins are thinner and locked together, then soldered to the base. The last heat sink is solid aluminum and thicker, similar to lower end basic CPU cooling. It is interesting to see all of the different heat sink styles used on one board. Hopefully this amount of cooling will be enough to handle the NF200 with decent temperatures, as this chipset is notoriously hot.
With the motherboard examined it is time to install it and take a look at the software and BIOS!