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Asus P6T

X58 Roundup: Seven $200-300 Core i7 Boards
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Features and Layout

The P6t represents Asus’ attempt to cut cost without reducing quality. Most visible of its cost-saving measures is the simplified heatpipe with aluminum sinks, but like most other sub-$300 motherboards it also has reduced bandwidth to its third x16-length PCI-Express 2.0 slot.

The X58 northbridge features 36 PCIe 2.0 lanes, which Asus divides into two x16 and one x4 pathway set to feed three graphics card slots. An x4 slot using this second-generation bandwidth-doubling technology has the same performance as previous x8 slots, so it’s probably barely adequate for a single-GPU Radeon HD 4870 graphics card and nothing more. Other, more practical uses for this slot include PCIe x8 RAID controllers or an even faster x4 Fusion-io ioDrive.

The most disconcerting problem for us is that Asus didn’t put its x4-bandwidth PCIe 2.0 slot between the two x16 slots. By separating the two full-bandwidth slots by only two spaces, Asus leaves only the tiniest of room for airflow between two double-slot graphics cards when both are installed in the “proper” slots. This airflow reduction is significant enough to severely limit the first card’s overclocking capability.

We also took issue with the bottom-rear-corner floppy and front-panel audio header placement, which complicates cable routing to middle and upper bays of tower cases. Floppy drives may only be useful when installing Windows XP in AHCI or RAID disk modes, but front-panel audio connector placement affects a great number of case designs. Both of these problems are typical of current products from other vendors as well.

Anyone who can look past those few quirks will be pleased with the P6T's other features. One particularly notable addition is its ability to support either LGA-1366 or LGA-775 CPU coolers--a feature that opens the board to a great number of enthusiasts who already own top cooling solutions and have little desire to spend large sums of money on similar hardware.

Four of the ICH10R’s six SATA ports point forward, along with two from an add-on controller. This popular design makes room for extra-long expansion cards, but also requires additional space between the motherboard’s leading edge and any nearby drive cages. The other two ICH10R ports face outward, avoiding any such clearance issues.

Power and reset buttons have become common on enthusiast-class motherboards in most price ranges, but the P6T is one of only a few to move these to the top of the front edge. That makes them easier to reach once the motherboard is installed in a case.

Asus P6T (Revision 1.01G)

Northbridge

Intel X58 Express

Southbridge

Intel ICH10R

Voltage Regulator

Eight Phases

BIOS

0306 (02/03/2009)

133.3 MHz Base Clock

133.6 MHz (+0.20%)

Clock Generator

ICS 9LPRS918JKLF

Connectors and Interfaces

Onboard

3 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (Modes: x16, x16, x4)

 

1 x PCIe x1

 

2 x PCI

 

3 x USB 2.0 (2 ports per connector).

 

1 x IEEE-1394 FireWire

 

1 x Floppy

 

1 x Ultra ATA (2 drives)

 

8 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s

 

1 x Fan 4-pin (CPU)

 

3 x Fan 3-pins (Chassis, Power)

 

1 x Front Panel Audio connector

 

1 x CD-Audio In

 

1 x S/P-DIF Out

 

1 x Power Button

 

1 x Reset Button

IO panel

2 x PS2 (keyboard and mouse)

 

6 x USB 2.0

 

2 x Digital Audio Out (Coaxial + Optical)

 

1 x IEEE-1394 FireWire

 

1 x External SATA (eSATA) 3.0Gb/s

 

1 x RJ45 Ethernet

 

6 x Analog Audio Jacks (8-ch. out, 4-ch. in)

Mass Storage Controllers

Intel ICH10R

6 x SATA 3.0Gb/s (RAID 0, 1, 5, 10)

JMicron JMB363 PCIe

1 x Ultra ATA-133 (2-drives)

 

1 x eSATA 3.0 Gb/s

 

1 x SATA Interface for JMB322 Hub

JMicron JMB322 Port Multiplier

2 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s

Network

Realtek RTL8111C PCIe

Gigabit LAN

Audio

Realtek ALC1200 HD Audio Codec

Eight-Channel (7.1 Surround) Output

IEEE-1394 FireWire

VIA VT6315N PCIe

2 x FireWire 400 (1x Internal, 1x I/O Panel)


The JMB363 controller supports up to two Ultra ATA 133 drives, an eSATA 3.0 Gb/s port, and two internal SATA 3.0 Gb/s drives via a JMB322 port multiplier. Performance should drop dramatically during multi-device access, since the JMB363 uses only a single 2.5 Gb PCIe pathway.

Conversely, independent PCIe links provide over twice the required bandwidth to the RTL8111C network and VT6315N FireWire controllers.

Check prices for Asus' P6T

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