Physical Examination

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The physical design of the Asus P5GD2 Premium is fairly unique. First, there is a large copper heatsink situated over some MOSFETs near the rear of the board. It would have been better if all MOSFETs got this treatment, but it would have meant some incompatibilities with CPU coolers.

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Another interesting feature of the physical design is what Asus calls “Stack Cool”. This is basically another piece of PCB mounted (glued?) to the bottom side of the motherboard just behind the CPU socket. The idea is that this extra layer of PCB helps dissipate the heat generated by the CPU and the surrounding MOSFETs.  It’s all part of Asus’ initiative to help make their motherboards easier to cool. In practice, I did not notice much difference in temperatures compared with the other 915P boards I have here.

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The Stack Cool PCB helps spread heat.

These two features aside, the rest of the motherboard is well designed. Starting around the socket, there are low profile capacitors and two larger ones. Using our Zalman CNPS 7000A, with the LGA775 adapter graciously donated by Zalman, we had no problems clearing these components.

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The large Zalman CNPS-7000A has no problems on the P5GD2 Premium.

Like most Intel 915P motherboards, there is a large heatsink on the Northbridge chip. The cooler used by Asus uses two retention clips instead of pins. This will make using aftermarket coolers difficult. During testing the cooler did get very warm to the touch.

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x1 PCIe slot is placed above the x16.

Looking at the PCI Express x16 slot we can see a nice design decision on Asus’ part that shows that they’re really paying attention to the market – Asus placed one of their x1 slots above the x16 slot so you don’t lose it when using a video card with a large heatsink. What a brilliant and simple design decision.

The locations of the IDE headers are in an awkward location if you’re wiring up one or more optical drives in a tower case. You may need a longer cable or rearrange your drives to give enough slack.

Color-coding seems to be a thing Asus has mastered in their products. The RAM DIMMs are color-coded to indicate which slots are to be used in dual-channel, so are the front panel connections. This makes installation a lot easier as you don’t have to constantly refer to the manual.

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There is a 24-pin ATX connector on the middle-front edge of the board that also supports “old” 20-pin ATX power supplies. If using a 20-pin PSU, you’ll need to use the 12V connection located in an awkward spot just above the copper MOSFET cooler.

The rear panel is worth mentioning as it has everything you need without having to install the expansion brackets. Aside from your legacy PS2 and parallel connections, there is a IEEE1394a Firewire port, dual SPDIF output (coax and optical), and four USB 2.0. The wireless antenna (in the Wireless Edition package) connects on the back as well without the need of another add-in card like in older Asus boards.

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