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Asus P5WD2 Premium i955X mobo

The best 955X-based board on the market?

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The P5WD2 Premium also comes with dual Ethernet: one Gigabit Intel PCI Express controller and one Gigabit Marvell PCI controller. Add to this Firewire, 7.1-channel Intel HD Audio with optical and coaxial S/PDIF outputs, and this is a well-featured board. The board I/O consists of two PS/2 ports, a parallel port, four USB 2.0 ports, six audio connectors, the two S/PDIF connectors, a Firewire connector, the two Ethernet ports and finally the SATA connector. There are three PCI slots and a separate x1 PCI Express slot for add-on cards.

Asus P5WD2 Premium mobo

One of the PCI slots will be occupied by the Wi-Fi TV card. This is something I've never seen as part of a motherboard bundle, although I can't remember ever having seen a similar product in any shape or form. The card itself is non-descript, but at least the dark PCB follows the theme of the motherboard. But it's the features that matter here and Asus has combined an 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi card with a dual tuner analog/digital TV card with built in FM radio.

A sturdy desktop aerial for the Wi-Fi functionality of the card is supplied as part of the package and with a magnetic base this can be placed on the side of your case - unless you have an aluminium one. The antenna can also be rotated and angled at 90 degrees which means that the aerial can be positioned almost anywhere and still achieve a good range.

The digital part of the TV tuner works with DVB-T so it works with Freeview in the UK as well as other free-to-air DVB-T channels where available. The card also features video and audio input via a break-out cable. This has an S-video and a composite video connector alongside two RCA connectors for the audio. Finally, you get an infra-red remote control with a receiver that connects via USB.

The rest of the accessories in the box consist of a Firewire bracket, a serial port bracket, yet another bracket with a game port and two USB 2.0 ports, five SATA cables, three SATA power adaptors - two with two power connectors - three IDE cables and a floppy cable. You also get a copy of interVideo WinDVD Suite as well as a copy of CyberLink PowerCinema - to be used with the TV tuner card.

As this board is part of Asus' AiLife series of boards it has some special features to reduce noise and improve heat dissipation. The bottom of the motherboard features Asus' Stack Cool 2, which the company claims will reduce the temperature of the PCB by up to 20°C. It's hard to validate this claim, but the passive MOSFET cooler and the two passive chipset coolers certainly seem to indicate that it works.

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