Board Design & Layout
Asus has managed to cram quite a lot into the Asus P6T Deluxe without taxing its overall size which is no bigger than a standard ATX motherboard measuring 30.5cm x 24.4cm. Despite of this, the design and layout is very good, as is often the case with Asus motherboards.
Given that the Intel X58 is a more efficient desktop chipset that generates very little heat, Asus has done away with their water-cooling features usually offered on their gaming boards. Rather, this is a passively cooled design, and while Asus has included an optional fan in the bundle, we found that installing it was unnecessary.
Furthermore, users will no longer require to inject more voltage into the north bridge to achieve impressive overclocks with the Core i7 processors. This is because the processor and north bridge no longer connect via a FSB (Front Side Bus) and the memory controller is housed on the processor.
This means that when overclocking the processor or memory, the chipset will remain untouched (and this is of course, great news). Although some Intel X58 boards we've seen thus far do include crazy on-board cooling, it seems to be completely unnecessary at this point.
That said, the Asus P6T Deluxe cooling setup is far from basic. It features a large north bridge heatsink which is connected via a single copper heatpipe to another series of heatsinks designed to cool the boards power circuitry. Although Asus included a small fan which can be attached to one of the sets of fins, we didn't find it necessary when using an air-cooled CPU heatsink.
Moving around to the six DIMM slots, we found miles of room between them and the primary PCI Express 16x slot to allow easy removal or installation of memory with a large graphics card installed. There are not one but two PCI slots separating the primary and secondary PCIe 16x ports, allowing for plenty of air flow between the graphics cards when using Crossfire or SLI technology.
The six SATA ports that are connected to the ICH10R south bridge chip are mounted on a 90-degree angle to avoid conflicting with long graphics cards. The additional two onboard SATA ports are not mounted on a 90-degree angle, but they are positioned where they cannot conflict with long graphics cards. Asus has also included onboard power and reset buttons.
Getting back to the board design itself, we were impressed to find so much free space surrounding the LGA1366 socket. Generally these high-end motherboards are quite crammed and leave very little room around the CPU socket to install large after market coolers. This is not the case with the Asus P6T Deluxe, and we found it possible to install the Thermaltake BigWater 760i water-block in all possible orientations, something that few of the older LGA775 motherboards could handle.
The true 16+2 phase power design is cooled via two large heatsinks, which are both individually connected to the north bridge heatsink using copper heatpipes. The 16+2 phase power design features 16-phase for vCore and extra 2-phase for QPI/Memory controller inside CPU. It is designed to provide the highest power efficiency possible and hence generates less heat to effectively enhance the overclocking capability.
With the high quality power components such as low RDS (on) MOSFETs, Ferrite core chokes with lower hysteresis loss, and 100% Japan-made high quality conductive polymer capacitors, the Asus 16+2 phase VRM design also ensures longer component life and minimum power loss. This certainly is an impressive feature of the P6T Deluxe, and we are keen to see how it handles a little Core i7 overclocking.
The I/O panel space has been well used, adding to the boards connectivity options right out of the box. Featured on the I/O panel are eight USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire port, eSATA port, six audio jacks, a coaxial, and S/PDIF port, along with two LAN ports and a PS/2 keyboard/mouse connector. Legacy connections that are absent from the I/O panel include a parallel printer port and two serial ports, none of which we miss in the slightest.