ASUS P5K-E/WiFi-AP is a top mainstream motherboard for the socket LGA775 platform from ASUS, based on Intel P35 chipset and featuring a 802.11g (54 Mbps) WiFi access point, allowing you to share your Internet connection wirelessly without a wireless broadband router. This motherboard also features passive heatsinks, solid aluminum capacitors, eSATA ports, two x16 PCI Express slots, coaxial and optical SPDIF outputs and more. In this article we will explore the main features from this motherboard. Check it out.
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Figure 1: ASUS P5K-E/WiFi-AP motherboard.
P35 is the latest mainstream chipset from Intel. There are three main differences between P35 and the previous mainstream chipset from Intel, P965: support for the 1,333 MHz external bus (P965 goes only up to 1,066 MHz), support for DDR3 memories (if your motherboard has DDR3 sockets, which isn’t the case of P5K-E) and the use of the new south bridge series, ICH9 (P965 uses ICH8). The difference between the plain ICH9 chip and the plain ICH8 chip is only on the number of USB 2.0 ports: ICH9 has 12 of them, opposed to 10 on ICH8. The main difference is on the “R” (which stands for “RAID”) variation, which is the version used by this motherboard. ICH9R supports six SATA-300 ports, while ICH8R supports only four.
The main difference between P35 and the latest high-end chipset from Intel, X38, is the support for the new PCI Express 2.0 on the later, which doubles the maximum theoretical transfer rate of the add-on video card you are using, if it is also PCI Express 2.0 (at this moment the only PCI Express 2.0 video card available is GeForce 8800 GT). Two other differences between the two is the unofficial support for the 1,600 MHz external clock rate on X38 and the support for DDR3 memories up to 1,333 MHz on X38 (P35 supports DDR3 up to 1,066 MHz). Both chipsets are paired with the same series of south bridges: ICH9.
We are talking about DDR3 but you have to keep in mind that the decision of supporting DDR3 memories on a given motherboard is up to the motherboard manufacturer. Since DDR2 and DDR3 sockets are different, the manufacturer is who chooses which technology will be used on a given model. As mentioned, P5K-E only supports DDR2 memories, up to 8 GB and up to DDR2-1066 – even though P35 chipset officially supports only up to DDR2-800, non-officially it supports DDR2-1066.
On this motherboard DDR2 sockets 1 and 3 are yellow and 2 and 4 are black. In order to enable dual channel feature, which doubles the maximum theoretical transfer rate from the memory system, you need to install two memory modules on sockets with the same color (or four modules, which will use all available sockets). By the way, P35 chipset features Fast Memory Access Technology, which allows dual channel feature even if the memory modules have different capacities. So if you install a 1 GB module together with a 512 MB module they will run under dual channel module. On chipsets without this feature dual channel mode is automatically disabled if you have two modules with different sizes. This should help future upgrades.
This motherboard has two PCI Express x16 slots, one (blue) truly running at x16 speed and the second one (black) running at x4 speed. This motherboard supports CrossFire, but since the second slot has a limited bandwidth this isn’t the best platform to run such configuration. We see the second x16 slot more like a way to expand the maximum number of video monitors you can have (two per video card). This board also has two x1 PCI Express slots and three standard PCI slots.
P5K-E WiFi/AP has six SATA-300 ports controlled by the ICH9R south bridge, supporting RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10, plus two eSATA-300 ports, controlled by a JMicron JMB363 chip, which also controls the single ATA-133 port present on this product.
The audio section from this motherboard provides 7.1 audio, produced by the south bridge chip with the aid of an Analog Devices AD1988B codec, which provides a 92 dB signal-to-noise ratio for its inputs and 101 dB SNR for its outputs and a maximum sampling rate of 192 kHz for both inputs and outputs. These specs are terrific for the mainstream user.
This board has one coaxial and one optical SPDIF output soldered directly on the motherboard, which is great as you can easily connect it to your home theater receiver.
Although ICH9R south bridge provides 12 USB 2.0 ports, this motherboard has only 10 ports available, as two of them are used by the onboard WiFi access point. This motherboard has six USB 2.0 ports soldered on its rear panel and the other four ports are available through headers available on the board, and this motherboard doesn’t come with any I/O bracket for using these ports.
P5K-E WiFi/AP also has two FireWire ports controlled by an Agere L-FW3227 chip. One of the ports is located on the motherboard rear panel, and the other is available through an I/O header and unfortunately this motherboard doesn’t come with an I/O bracket for you to use this port (but can be used by the FireWire port available on the frontal panel of your case, if your case has one, of course).
In Figure 2, you can see the motherboard rear panel with PS/2 keyboard connector, six USB 2.0 ports, coaxial and optical digital audio (SPDIF) outputs, one Gigabit Ethernet port, one FireWire port, two eSATA ports, complete set of 7.1 audio jacks and one antenna connector for the on-board WiFi access point (more about this feature in the next page).
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Figure 2: Motherboard rear panel.
As you can see, this motherboard does not have a PS/2 mouse connector, so you have to use a USB mouse with this motherboard. This board also doesn’t have parallel and serial ports, although one serial port is available through an I/O bracket that doesn’t come with the product.