And we haven’t even got to the I/O panel, which consists of two PS/2 ports, a parallel port, optical and coaxial S/PDIF output, four USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire connector, the second Ethernet connector, discrete 7.1-channel audio outputs with a line in and microphone connector and finally the connector for the wireless networking antenna.
The P5GD2 Premium does of course come with Intel’s new High Definition audio and the codec is from C-Media and offers a wide range of features, including re-configurable audio jacks. This means that even if you plug something into the wrong socket, you can change the functionality of the audio socket in the sound drivers.
The layout of the slots is unusual, with the top slot being an x1 PCI Express slot and the second one down being the x16 PCI Express slot. Next to this is a gap, which means you won’t lose a slot if you have a graphics card with a big cooler on it. Below this are the two PCI slots and then a further two x1 PCI Express slots. ASUS has fitted four memory slots which support up to 4GB of PC4200 DDR2 SDRAM in dual channel configuration.
Apart from the four-pin CPU fan connector, there are a further three fan connectors spread around the board, although one is hidden between the memory slots and the ATX power connector – not an ideal position in my opinion. ASUS has placed one of the IDE connectors at an angle, making it easier to route cables inside the case. There is also a spare USB 2.0 header for those with a case that has front mounted USB ports.
I almost forgot to mention the serial port, as it comes on a bracket, but the physical connector on the motherboard seems to be in the wrong place as it is all the way up at the front of the motherboard. As long as you don’t make use of it you won’t have any issues with the cable routing, but that’s hardly ideal. That said, since the board is already cramped, there might not have been any other suitable location to fit the connector.
The only thing that seems to be missing is S/PDIF input, but this is only a minor complaint on an otherwise very well featured motherboard. ASUS supplies a copy of interVideo WinDVD Suite in the box, which consists of WinDVD 5, WinDVD Creator Platinum 2 and WinRip 2, it’s a shame that the copy of WinDVD 5 is only 5.1-channel, but it’s not a bad software bundle to get with a motherboard. A copy of PC-cillin 2002 is also thrown in for good measure, but this anti-virus software is getting a bit long in the tooth now.
The manual is well written and covers all of the features of the motherboard as well as the BIOS setup screens and some of the drivers and RAID utilities. It could however, do with some better instructions on how to install the motherboard and some colour pictures.
ASUS has also supplied a range of its own overclocking tweaks in the BIOS and the latest one is referred to as N.O.S which stands for Non-delay Overclocking System and allows your CPU to be instantly overclocked by up to 30% under load. Anyone into performance cars will know just why Asus has called its overclocking utility N.O.S. Other handy features include the built-in network cable tester, that will detect and report damaged network cables – this can be handy when trying to track down problems on your network.
In terms of performance there is no way I can fault the P5GD2 as it’s nearly as fast as the Intel 925XCV board based on the 925X chipset in SYSmark 2004 and PCMark 2004. The Asus even out performs the Intel board in some of the 3D tests.
The biggest downside of the ASUS P5GD2 Premium Wireless Edition is the high retail price of £152.39 – but you do have to remember that the amount of features you’re getting for that price is staggering. The P5GD2 also performs on a par with 925X based motherboards, so it really is worth every penny.
The ASUS P5GD2 Premium Wireless Edition is a cutting edge, feature packed monster of a motherboard. The performance is superb and there are more bits in the box than you could possibly wish for. If you can swallow the high asking price, you’ll have a very high class motherboard in your PC.