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Intel's 955X Dual-Core Chipset Better For Business Users Than NVidia's nForce4

ASUS P5WD2 Premium

The ASUS motherboard gave us no grounds for complaint. Our DDR-2 RAM modules from Corsair functioned perfectly after initial installation with ideal timing values of CL3-2-2-8 for the entire duration of our tests.

The outfitting of this premium motherboard is very good, even if the price per feature ratio could be lower. This ASUS board is actually one of the most expensive offerings of its kind available. But everything important is included : 2 x16 slots for SLI with software on/off controls. Did we really just say "2 PCIE slots ?" Yes, you read it right. ASUS uses four PCIe lines from the Southbridge to enable a second x16 slot and thus offers a type of asymmetrical SLI.

In addition, you’ll also find another x1 PCIe slot, three PCI slots, an Ultra-ATA RAID chip from IE, a FireWire chip from Texas Instruments and an extra SATA-controller with two additional ports available through the motherboard’s back panel (ASUS calls this last feature "SATA on the go").

Even though all components on the motherboard are passively cooled, and some of them get downright hot, we were impressed by the smart layout. You’ll also find that memory modules of up to DDR2-667 speeds are supported on this motherboard.

In our overclocking tests we maintained stable operation even when running the FSB clock at 300 MHz (FSB1200). Starting from a base rate of FSB800 (which means an FSB clock rate of 200 MHz) this is pretty remarkable. Once we pushed the clock to 310 MHz the system wouldn’t boot without errors any longer. This might actually be attributed to the Pentium 4 processor, which wouldn’t run any faster than 4.3 GHz.