Intel’s new H57 chipset was introduced along with the H55 at the same time as the launch of Intel's new Clarkdale Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs
. Both new chipsets allow you to make use of these CPU's integrated GMA HD graphics
, but they're also backwards compatible with earlier LGA1156 CPUs.
The H57 is the more high end of the two, and that's reflected in the visual design of the P7H57D-V EVO. It's a fantastic looking board – the sharp looks and the variety of blue works well together. Its layout is generally very good with ports and sockets all easy to get to around the edges and with plenty of space to actually use them.
A full complement of six SATA 3Gbps ports that man the edge support RAID 0, 1, 10 and 5 (whereas the H55 chipset doesn't), and are sat parallel to the board so cable routing is tidier. However, the two extra SATA 6Gbps ports are relegated to the bottom of the board, facing outwards. Asus bolts these SATA 6Gbps sockets to a PLX PCI-Express chip that increases the bandwidth
, allowing the new SATA sockets to perform better. However, this also impacts on the board cost, so you’d have to really want a SATA 6Gbps upgrade in the future.
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Two PCI-Express x16 2.0 slots are included. These can be split into either x16-x1 or x8-x8 for CrossFire and SLI, although only Lynnfield CPUs support this multi-GPU arrangement. The memory slots are also placed high enough so they don’t interfere with the primary graphics card too. In conjunction to the PCI-Express x16, there are three PCI-Express x1 slots (the blue is 5GT/s and the grey are slower 2.5GT/s) and two PCI slots rounding off a full complement of expansion slots.
In addition to the usual Firewire, Gigabit Ethernet and 7.1 High-Definition surround sound, USB 3.0 is also included thanks to an NEC controller. The sockets are identified as the blue ones on the rear I/O, but there are none avaliable via pin-outs to be routed elsewhere.
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Around the CPU socket there’s plenty of space for large heatsinks, however for a £145 motherboard there’s relatively little in the way of CPU power VRMs: 8+3. The heatsinks cooling them are held down by push-pins too, and we found that during overclocking the area required an additional fan for stability at very high frequencies - something we haven't needed from any other Asus P55 board before. The ASUS P7P55D Deluxe for example can be found for the same price, but includes twice as many power phases (16+3).
On the rear I/O, we've already highlighted the blue USB 3 ports, but in addition to these there are four more USB 2, an eSATA 3Gbps, Firewire socket, PS2 keyboard and 3.5mm surround sound audio jacks plus optical S/PDIF! If this full complement of sockets wasn’t enough, there’s also HDMI, DVI and D-Sub too, for use with Intel Core i3 and i5 Clarkdale CPUs.