ASUS P7P55D Deluxe Previewccokeman - August 16, 2009
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As Intel's upcoming launch of the Core i5 processors rapidly approaches, the P55 chipset board previews are coming out of the woodwork. Whereas the i7 is aimed squarely at the hardcore enthusiast, the i5 is aimed more at the midrange since that's really where you make your money anyhow. This time around I have the ASUS P7P55D Deluxe to take a quick look at. ASUS will have three versions of this board available at launch with more depending on market segments. From early indications, pricing will be much better than the $200 and up price points we have seen with the socket 1366 X58 chipset based boards. One thing you notice about the naming scheme of the board is that instead of the naming scheme we have been used to in the past, such as on the P5 and P6 series, the P7 also includes the chipset in the name to prevent any confusion as to what chipset this board is packing. P7= series, P55= Chipset, D= Extreme Design and of course the Deluxe model means you get one step down from the Hardcore ROG series, if one is made for this platform! Time for a quick 360 view to see what this board has for features.
The P7P55D Deluxe is the top board in the series of P7 boards that will be available at launch. The hierarchy, lowest to highest, is the P7P55D, P7P55D EVO and the P7P55D Deluxe, so you have a board that fits for just about everyone, each one feature packed. The Deluxe version features a build philosophy labeled Extreme Design that focuses on three key areas, Reliability, Saftey and last, but not least, Performance. This is not just a catchphrase but a way to offer more value as well as a higher performing, easier to use product. Things such as additional ESD protection, Stack Cool 3/+ with two 2oz copper layers, Xtreme Phase, T-probe and Turbo V/EVO. From the front view you can see something missing right off the bat. The northbridge, as it has been known, is no longer used as some of the functionality has been shifted to the Lynnfield processor. The traditional southbridge has been replaced by what is now known as the PCH. The back of the PCB features additional heatsinks for the 16+3 phase VRM circuit. The heatsinks are not attached with push pins but rather spring loaded screws.
The IO panel offers pretty much standard connectivity for boards of this caliber. PS/2 ports for both the mouse and keyboard, a clear CMOS button, the optical and Coax digital sound output, eight USB ports, dual Gigabit LAN, 1394 and ten channel sound. Moving on down there are three x16 PCI-E slots with support for both Crossfire and SLI, two x1 slots and two PCI slots to round out the expansion capabilities.
Along the bottom of the P7P55D Deluxe is where you will find the additional 1394 and USB connectivity for a total of two IEEE 1394 connections and fourteen USB 2.0 ports, so you can say goodbye to that hub. There are also analog sound input and digital output headers, as well as onboard start and reset switchs, so there is no need for jumping the front panel connections. The last item to the right would be your front panel header; ASUS has included its Q connector to make hookup of the wiring a breeze. The eSATA connections are in line between the USB headers, and the front panel connection ESD (Electro Static Discharge) is a way we kill our hardware not really knowing why all of a sudden it stopped working. ASUS has a series of Anti ESD Diodes spread throughout the board mainly at the point of connection where an external plug is attached such as the USB ports, headphone and speaker inputs and LAN ports. All areas we can send a jolt of current into the computer. One of these is visible right above the front panel header.
Moving to the right hand side you have six SATA 3Gb/s ports, the IDE connection, the 24-pin ATX power connection and the Com port. Between the power supply connection and the Com port is a little red button. No, it's not the "Easy" button, but it could be. This is the Mem Ok button. This allows the system to boot by running through a series of algorithms to make the memory stable enough to boot the system by adjusting speed, timings and lastly voltage. This looks to be a feature I can't wait to try out. There are only four memory slots for use with DDR3 DIMMs as only single and dual channels configurations are supported.
Popping around to the top you have a series of switches that are mainly for use by the enthusiast. These switches enable extreme over voltages that are available in the BIOS to help you push your combination as hard as you can. The three items that these switches provide the extra juice to include the memory, the IMC (Integrated Mem Controller) and the CPU. The last item around the top is the 8-pin power connection. This rounds up the outside edges of the board.
A couple of the special features of the board are the Turbov EVO chip, which is basically an overclocking processor much the same way the EPU chip is used to manage the energy consumption of the P7P55D Deluxe. Some of the ESD Diodes are seen behind the rear I/O panel connections.
Last, but not least, you have the CPU socket area that looks pretty tightly packed. The 16+3 power phases can be seen as well as the two heatsinks to help rid the area of heat from the MOSFETs. The retention method used is a whole new animal and only uses three bolts to hold it in place.
That's about all I can show at this point as of course all benchmarks and real details will have to wait. If ASUS has this gem priced right along with the pricing of the i5, this could be the combination to take over from the Core 2 series. Stay tuned for the full review and performance test!