Asus – P5LD2 Deluxe WiFi-TV Edition review

feature-packed Intel-based board with Wi-Fi and HDTV
Photo of Asus – P5LD2 Deluxe WiFi-TV Edition
£160

The first thing that hits you when you open the Asus P5LD2 Deluxe box is, “How have they managed to fit a motherboard in this box?” Because this, the WiFi-TV Edition of the P5LD2 Deluxe, just has be one of the most highly equipped motherboards ever.

The basic P5LD2 Deluxe is one of the new ‘AI Life’ series of motherboards that Asus has introduced. The ‘AI Life’ series, to quote Asus, “brings lifestyle and computing” together. To achieve this, the boards in this series feature a higher feature spec along with new and improved noise- and temperature-reducing designs.

To this end, the P5LD2 Deluxe uses Asus’s latest Stack Cool 2 system. The original Stack Cool system used a small extra layer of PCB below the CPU to dissipate the heat; the Cool 2 has an extra layer that covers the entire motherboard, hence the two-tone PCB; black on top, blue underneath. Aiding in the dispersal of heat are the aluminium heatsinks on the power phase and both chipsets, however the heatsink covering the i945P Northbridge, big as it may be, got extremely hot when under test.

Although the P5LD2 Deluxe uses Intel’s popular i945P chipset, the layout of the board is unlike any other 945 board you are likely to see. The first item of note is a pair of x16 PCI-E graphic card slots, but this isn’t an SLI board even though Asus supplies an SLI bridge connector with the board. Instead, this board supports the use of two graphics cards for quad displays.

The chipset supports 1066/800/533 Pentium 4, Celeron and Pentium D CPUs with a maximum of 4GB of DDR2 667/533/400 being supported through four DIMM slots.

Another aid to keeping everything as cool as possible is the positioning of the single x1 PCI-E slot; between the two x16 slots, forcing the graphics cards apart and allowing air to circulate between them. For expansion cards there are three standard PCI slots.

There’s a wealth of possibilities when it comes to connecting drives to the P5LD2 Deluxe. First, it uses Intel’s RAID-supporting ICH7R Southbridge, which not only supports the ATA/100 port but also four SATA, 3Gb/s ports which can be configured into RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 arrays, and also uses Intel’s Matrix Storage technology. An ITE controller takes care of a pair of ATA/133 ports and finally a Silicon Image controller looks after a single SATA, 3Gb/s port which can also be used for an external SATA drive on the Go port.

There’s a single integrated Gigabit Ethernet controller, while a Realtek ALC882M chip provides 7.1-channel High Definition audio. What makes this version of the P5LD2 Deluxe stand out is the inclusion of a WiFi-TV PCI card with TV/Radio and Wireless antennas, which supports HDTV and 802.11a/b/g standards.

Right, back to the box contents. Deep breath and off we go; User manual, software CDs, a remote control complete with batteries and a USB receiver, five SATA cables, two ATA/133 IDE cables, an 80-conductor IDE cable (for an optical drive), a floppy cable and three SATA power cables. Four I/O brackets are included; a FireWire bracket, a SATA expansion bracket with two ports, a Serial port bracket and last but not least a game/USB port with a single game port and two USB 2.0 ports. Phew…

Company: Asus

Contact: 01908 217135


Verdict
One of the most featured-packed motherboards yet produced, the WiFi-TV edition of the P5LD2 Deluxe not only has everything you are likely to need in a single box, it is also an excellent performer.