Asus P5Q Deluxe
Asus fans looking for better value in a high-end motherboard might consider the P5Q Deluxe. A Web price of around $200 gets buyers all the major features of the more expensive Maximus II Formula but far less bling.
Some users might even say that the P5Q Deluxe has more features than the Maximus II Formula, with a third PCI Express x16 graphics card slot and the “Asus Express Gate” SSD which comes pre-loaded with the Splashtop OS. But a few minor features are lost.
For example, the same AD2000BX audio codec is used, but it’s located onboard rather than on a riser card. P5Q Deluxe owners get back a slot this way, since the top PCI Express x1 slot is no longer serving as a chipset link for the codec card. And the gain of a third PCI Express x16 slot isn’t anything to brag about either, since the slot is limited to a maximum of x4 transfers and will drop to x1 mode if any of the other x1 slots are occupied.
The two PCI Express 2.0 slots still share 16 pathways, automatically switching between one by x16 or two by x8 modes depending on the number of cards installed, and other features that bolster the Maximus II Formula’s specifications, such as its sixteen-phase CPU voltage regulator and dual BIOS chips, can also be seen on the P5Q Deluxe.
The power and reset buttons still light up, although not in the showy way of the P5Q Deluxe’ more expensive sibling, and the same third-party SATA/Ultra ATA controller serves the same functions.
The P5Q Deluxe loses nothing to the Maximus II Formula in layout, with its memory slots being mounted too low being forgivable, since it allows shorter pathways to the northbridge for added high-speed stability. The primary PCI Express x16 slot has been moved southward in the same manner, to make extra room for DIMM latch clearance, with a PCI Express x1 and a legacy PCI slot above it. The biggest “unsolvable” issue with having the two major x16 slots located so far towards the bottom of the motherboard is that the third slot will become unusable if two graphics cards with double-thick coolers are installed.
Four of the eight internal Serial ATA connectors face forward, which will prevent them being used whenever an ATX chassis has a drive bay in close proximity to the motherboard’s front edge, but the four outward-facing ports have no such issues. One of the outward facing ports may however be blocked by the end of a long graphics card.
Located near the bottom of the motherboard’s front edge, anyone using the Ultra ATA connector may find it impossible to stretch the cable to the upper bay of taller cases. We sincerely believe that the majority of high-end builders won’t need Ultra ATA anyway.
The floppy connector has become slightly more important as many gamers cling to Windows XP, which requires a floppy drive for installing AHCI or RAID drivers. Asus had carefully considered this software issue, and has placed the cable header directly behind the typical location of an ATX tower’s 3.5” external bays.
Our constant complaint about front panel connectors being placde in the bottom rear corner applies to the FP audio header of the P5Q Deluxe, as the cables of some cases simply won’t reach that far. The Maximus II Formula had avoided the audio problem by putting this connector on a riser card, but instead had an IEEE-1394 FireWire port in the same location. Asus moved the P5Q Deluxe’ FireWire port slightly forward, easing, but not eliminating, the data connector issue.