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Asus P6T Deluxe Palm OC Edition
Hard on the heels of the Core i7 Asus Rampage II Extreme motherboard we've got the Asus P6T Deluxe Palm OC Edition. The model name is a bit of a mouthful but in essence the P6T Deluxe is a conventional Intel X58 chipset design with six memory DDR3 slots and support for CrossFire and SLI. The Palm OC Edition part of the name refers to the external LCD Palm OC device that allows you to monitor the system and to overclock without entering the BIOS.
You can buy a P6T Deluxe without the Palm OC for £239 but if you want it included you'll pay £30 or £40 more. Comparatively this makes the basic model reasonably priced but the Palm OC version is pushing into the realms of expensive. That said, the Rampage II continues to be horrendously pricey at £330.
The layout and specification of the P6T Deluxe have their roots in the enormous range of Asus Intel Core 2 motherboards that came before, with passive coolers on the chipset and 16+2-phase power regulation hardware. That's 16-phases for the CPU core and two phases for the memory controller. The coolers are linked with a single heatpipe, unlike the system on the MSI X58 Platinum that deliberately separates one part of the cooling system from the other.
Asus has used a new design for the passive cooler on the Northbridge of the chipset that is called the Wind-Flow Design Concept. The cooler is a slab of finned aluminium with radiating fins that guide the airflow as it is blown across the Northbridge by the CPU cooler.
The arrangement of the ports and connectors marks the P6T Deluxe as a high end design that doesn't quite make it to the same level as a Republic of Gamers motherboard but the essentials are all present and correct. There are three PCI Express 2.0 slots that support both CrossFire and SLI with 16+16+1 or 16+8+8 configurations but the second and third slots are so close together that it seems unlikely you will use three graphics cards.
In addition to the three long PCI Express slots there is one PCI Express x4 slot and two PCI slots with SATA, SAS and IDE connectors arranged along the edge of the board.
Across the foot of the board there are Power and Reset micro buttons, three USB headers and a Firewire header along with a crusty old floppy connector. There are eight USB 2.0 ports and a Firewire port on the I/O panel and Asus supplies a bracket with two more USB ports and a mini Firewire, leaving enough headers to power four more USB ports on your PC case. All told that seems like plenty of USB connectivity to us.
The other ports on the I/O panel consist of a single PS/2 port that can be used either for a mouse or a keyboard, audio connectors with coaxial and optical S/PDIF, one eSATA port and dual Gigabit LAN. That's a decent list of features and the layout of the P6T Deluxe is mostly very good but there are a couple of areas that let it down.