On the memory side ASUS P5B Premium Vista Edition has four DDR2-DIMM sockets, supporting up to 8 GB officially up to DDR2-800 and unofficially up to DDR2-1066 (we installed four DDR2-1066 modules and they worked just fine at 1,066 MHz). On this motherboard sockets 1 and 3 are yellow and sockets 2 and 4 are black. Configuring DDR2 dual channel on this motherboard is pretty easy: just install each module on a socket with the same color.
On the storage side, this motherboard has a total of eight SATA-300 ports and one ATA/133 port. The south bridge chip, ICH8R, controls six of them. As this motherboard uses the ”R“ variant of the south bridge chip, it supports RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10. An external chip, Jmicron JMB363, controls the other two SATA-300 ports and the ATA/133 port. One of these two ports is an eSATA port, found on the rear panel of the motherboard. This port is different, as it is a port multiplier connector, so you can’t use a regular SATA cable on it. This JMicron chip also supports RAID (0, 1 and JBOD), so you can set RAID1 and mirror everything that is inside your internal hard drive automatically to an external drive, for example.
This motherboard has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one controlled by a Marvell 88E8056 chip connected to the south bridge chip through a PCI Express x1 connection, and the other controlled by a Marvell 88E8001 chip connected to the south bridge chip through the standard PCI bus. Since PCI has a maximum transfer rate of 132 MB/s – which translates to 1 Gbps – achieving 1 Gbps on this second port is very unlikely, as it would be working at the PCI maximum transfer rate.
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 better signal-to-noise ratio than AD1988A, used on several other ASUS motherboards: 92 dB for its inputs and 101 dB for its outputs and a maximum sampling rate of 192 kHz for both inputs and outputs.
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.
This motherboard has eight USB 2.0 ports (four soldered on the motherboard and four available through I/O brackets – this motherboard comes with only one I/O bracket featuring two USB ports) and two FireWire ports controlled by Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A chip (one soldered on the motherboard and another available through an I/O bracket that comes with the motherboard).
This motherboard has an on-board 512 MB flash drive soldered to the USB ports 9 and 10, as you can see in Figure 5. This memory chip is used to provide on-board support for ReadyBoost technology, available on Windows Vista – i.e., at least in theory this feature will improve the performance of your PC. That is why even though Intel P965 chipset provides 10 USB 2.0 only eight are available on this motherboard.
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Figure 5: 32 MB flash memory used by ReadyBoost.
On the rear panel (Figure 6) you can find the two Gigabit Ethernet ports, four USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire port, analog audio inputs/outputs, one eSATA connector, coaxial and optical SPDIF outputs, serial port, PS/2 mouse and PS/2 keyboard connectors. This motherboard doesn’t have a parallel port, not even through the use of an I/O bracket.
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Figure 6: Motherboard rear connectors.
As you can see in Figure 6, ScreenDuo and the remote control receiver must be connected to the USB ports with the orange sticker.
ASUS is using a new connector called Q-Connector to make the installation of the wires coming from the case frontal panel easier. You connect the wires to this Q-Connector and then install the connector to the motherboard header. What we liked about this feature is that it speeds up the assembling process, as you can position this connector near your eyes, not needing to position your eyes near the motherboard (usually bending the whole body) to read what is written. This motherboard comes with three Q-Connectors, one for the standard case frontal panel connections, one for two USB ports and another for one FireWire port.
All capacitors on this motherboard are solid aluminum capacitors, which is terrific. The coils used on the voltage regulator circuit are ferrite coils, providing a 25% less power loss compared to iron coils used on regular motherboards.
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Figure 7: Voltage regulator circuit with solid aluminum capacitors and ferrite coils.
In Figure 7 you can also see that this motherboard features an EPS12V power connector that comes with a cover closing half of it, allowing you to use a regular ATX12V power connector in case your power supply does not provide an EPS12V connector.