Though not as flashy as some boards from DFI or ABIT, the P5WD2-Premium features a very clean and well organized layout.
Starting with the area around the CPU socket, you will see a well planned design that leaves plenty of room for a wide variety of cooling solutions. I had no problem mounting a Zalman CNPS-7700, a Thermalright XP-90C, or a Prometiea Mach II on my board.
The passive cooling solutions for the northbridge chipset and mosfets are placed well outside the mounting assembly on the socket LGA 775 board. Also of note is the orientation of those heat sinks. Both are mounted in such a way that air drawn over your CPU’s heatsink also flows through them, dissipating heat without moving parts of their own.
The upper left side of the board houses the 4 pin 12V power connector, notice the four extra pins sealed off with a plastic cover, this supports botyh the standard ATX 12V 4 pin power connector as well as Intel’s 8 pin 12V power connector. Also of note is a single SATA port stuck in the strangest of places. You might ask why ASUS stuck a single SATA port here, in the middle of nowhere just like I did….. In fact this Silicon Image SATA port can be used either as the external SATA connector on the rear I/O port, or as part of a RAID 5 or 10 configuration with the boards internal SATA connectors.
Moving over to the upper right side of the board finds the four 240 pin DDR2 memory slots which support up to 8 Gb of 240 pin DDR2 memory at up to 800MHz (Though Nate was able to achieve speeds over 1 GHz utilizing Corsair’s DDR2 5400UL, the boards 24 pin power connector, an additional 4 pin molex power connector, and the boards floppy disk drive connector.
Moving on to the PCI-E/ PCI slots there are a few things of interest here. First, upon opening the box, right there on top of everything else, ASUS included an SLI bridge. Before you get your hopes up, Intel’s 955X chipset does not currently support SLI. There are rumors that once ATI releases their Crossfire solution, that it might be supported by this board. As it stands now, the second PCI-E slot only supports additional displays.
The lower right section of the board features four SATA ports which support the full range of RAID options, as well as a pair of PATA ports which also support RAID 0 and RAID 1. You might also notice that ASUS included passive cooling for the southbridge chipset, something you don’t see on many boards.
ASUS chose to place all of the USB, 1394, and external connectors along the very bottom of the board, further minimizing wires and clutter. Notice how aall the boards wiring, except the SATA connectors, are placed along the edges of the board.
What should be obvious by now is that ASUS placed all of the emphasis on cooling. From passive cooling all over the board to an extremely clean and well thought out layout, this board seems optimized for the enthusiast crowd.