A Closer Look
The P6T Series comprises several motherboards, with this one being the basic model. The others range from $40 to $150 more than the P6T. Price differences are due to what you’d imagine, onboard niceties, bundle items, etc.
Looking at the board, you can see it is pretty basic, there is a heatpipe between the NB and power supply coolers, but the SB cooler is pretty simple. Everything is where it is supposed to be, all connectors are located along the edges of the board, etc.
Located around the CPU cooler are the typical solid capacitors and ferrite chokes, , though there are many more chokes than normal, which leaves little room for the MOSFETs that are normally located in this area.
A very notable item in this area is the two sets of CPU cooler mounting holes. The LGA 1366 cooler has a larger footprint than the LGA 775, and the two will not interchange. Asus has placed holes for both LGA 1366 and LGA 775 coolers, for those people that would like to use the nice LGA 775 cooler or waterblock that they already have on their new i7 motherboard. This is a nice addition from Asus, and I’m sure that many upgrading from a nice LGA 775 rig will greatly appreciate it.
The P6T supports three video cards in both nVidia’s SLI and AMD’s CrossFireX. As supported by the X58 chipset, the upper two PCI-E slots run at x16, and the lower one runs at x8. There is also a pair of PCI slots, and one PCI-E x1 slot. Note the two jumpers immediately forward of the lower PCI slot, I’ll be mentioning them later.
As with most recent motherboards, most of the SATA slots face the edge of the board. There isn’t enough room for all of them due to one of the screwholes. Eventually I suppose the motherboard manufacturers will do away with the floppy and IDE ports, which will make a lot of extra room for other stuff on the board’s edge. The odd colored SATA ports are for Asus’ Drive Expert, which I’ll mention later.
I suppose the only other thing of real interest in this area is the CCMOS jumper, located just behind the bottom forward screwhole. It normally isn’t needed with Asus’ excellent crash-free BIOS utility, CPR (CPU Parameter Recall). I have occasionally needed to CCMOS due to too tight memory timings, but never due to a failed CPU overclock.
The P6T supports up to six DDR3 modules running triple-channel, up to 24 gigs, as supported by the X58. If you wondered, you can also run a pair of modules in dual-channel. The board is capable of running up to DDR3-2000, but memory clocks DDR3-1600 and above are dependent on the CPU’s ability to achieve higher QPI. More on that in the overclocking section.
Due to the internal memory controller in the i7, Intel recommends that you do not run memory over 1.65v. There are limits in the BIOS to prevent accidentally overvolting the memory and CPU memory bus. If you want to take the voltages farther in the BIOS, you use these jumpers to enable it.
Also in this area are onboard I/O and Reset buttons. These come in pretty handy when doing bench tests, or needing to restart/reset while you are peering into the side of the case.
The I/O panel is pretty complete, with a pair of PS/2 ports, 6 x USB ports, Coaxial and optical S/PDIF, an IEEE 1394 port, an eSATA port, one LAN port, and HD Audio. I never thought I’d miss a second (or third or fourth) LAN port, but lately I have been using the second one on my main rig. There are more LAN ports on the more expensive models.
There are a few components on the rear of the motherboard to aid in keeping things cooler, Asus calls this Stack Cool 2. The baseplate behind the CPU socket is common to all LGA 1366 motherboards.
The bundle is pretty basic, what you need to get started, to keep costs down. Included is a 3-way SLI bridge and a CrossFire bridge. The latter is nice, I have received a few ATI video cards that did not include one.