Continuing the feature list:
- 8-layer PCB with "Platinum Circuit Layout" for what Asus refers to as "Best Layout Design for Extreme OC Record" (we'll wait to see the end result for that one)
- A "Unique Wind-Flow Thermal Design" - basically the northbridge heatsink acts as a duct for air off the CPU heatsink, that is, providing you use a normal top down heatsink design and not a heatpiped one like most of us use. Even if we're sceptical about how well this works, it looks really very good.
- It has eight USB 2.0, eSATA, optical and digital S/PDIF and 7.1 channel surround sound including DTS "Surround Sensation UltraPC" features unique to Asus - Virtual (5.1) Surround, Bass Enhancement, Dialogue Clarify and Soundstage Expansion
- Two channel SAS (serial attached SCSI) RAID from the Marvell 88E6320-TFJ2 controller, as well as six SATA ports (that should not be interfered with when using long graphics)
- Six DIMM sockets with three phase power regulation, for tri-channel DDR3 with a maximum support for 24GB of memory.
- ExpressGate hardware with fast booting Linux OS on an in-built USB stick.
- "5000 hour" Fujitsu capacitors, ferrite core chokes and Low RDS(on) MOSFETs.
There's more, but we'll cover it next week when we actually get a board into our labs proper for a first look!
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The proprietary DTS sound extras are already featured, albeit by the competition, as Dolby Home Theatre
that's already available on a number of motherboards. The DTS supporting includes Virtual Surround, Bass Enhancements, Dialogue Clarity and Soundstage Expansion.
The 16-phase power and EPU also look very similar to what's currently available on Asus' P45 boards too, as is the ExpressGate hardware and "5000 hour" Fujitsu capacitors.
Whether SAS will make a difference to many, we don't know. We suspect it will be a tick-box feature that very few will actually use given rampaging advancement of high performance SSD SATA drives that cost somewhere in the region of a good SAS drive. However for the future workstation "WS" models of its X58 board, SAS will no doubt be beneficial. If you don't need SAS, it is backward compatible to SATA as the connectors are identical.
The board certainly looks very tasty and the new heatsink designs look particularly professional, however we're naturally waiting for the Republic of Gamers choice to tip up and show us if Asus has any more tricks up its sleeve.
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One key thing we are particularly excited about is the OC Palm
that's essentially a Vista sideshow device (although it should work in XP too) that doubles as a real-time overclock controller and hardware monitor for your desktop - you don't have to sacrifice screen real estate and it will always be in view to warn if something goes out of sorts. This device isn't the first of its type - for those of you that can remember the Abit 3rd Eye hardware it was perhaps too far ahead of its time, however the OC Palm with its 2.4" LCD screen looks to have far more potential. We're clear on the "potential" part, because last time we used the ScreenDuo it turned out to be a big bag of crap. We hope there has been significant effort put into it this time around and there will be an SDK available for enterprising users help develop a few awesome applications.
Availability is cited as "Q4"; Asus were not at liberty to give us dates, even though we've heard from other sources everyone is still on for Week 40-44, which is very end of Q3 into Q4.
We'll have one in the labs next week, so does anyone have a Nehalem CPU we could borrow for a bit? Pretty please? Any (other) comments - drop us your thoughts, in the forums.