If you enjoy tinkering and getting the best performance from your hardware, then this premium board from Asus will be a delight. It's based on Intel's 975X chipset and natively supports DDR2 memory up to 800MHz - providing good headroom for overclocking. The board will work with Pentium D and Pentium Processor Extreme Edition CPUs and has support for next-generation 65-nanometre (nm) CPUs.
Cooling of the board's components isn't as extravagant as seen in other boards, but it is well thought out.
Heat sinks reside on the Northbridge and Southbridge chipsets, as well as on the fast-switching transistors around the CPU socket area.
Asus also implements its Stack Cool 2 technology, which dissipates heat from critical components through the circuit board itself.
We had no problems at all testing this motherboard. In fact, it is the most reliable Intel board we have seen in recent tests, even with the Asus non-delay overclocking feature enabled. Our tests finished a few seconds faster with this feature turned on, which adjusts the CPU speed depending on the system load. If you know what you're doing, you can adjust speeds and voltages manually, too. The CPU parameter recall feature automatically kicks in if the system becomes unusable during overclocking, and restores the user settings without you having to reset the CMOS.
The graphics card levers make the removal of large graphics cards awkward, but hardware installation is a breeze. Likewise, we had no problems with any of the board's drivers or settings. That's impressive considering we installed a brand new Extreme Edition 955 CPU and two ATI Radeon X1900XT cards in CrossFire configuration.
There's plenty of connectivity on this model including a complete set of legacy ports as well as an external, hot-pluggable Serial ATA (SATA) port.
Verdict: Plenty of connectivity, support for the latest CPUs and CrossFire, and reliable overclocking features make this an ideal choice for the enthusiast.
Specifications: Intel 975X chipset; Intel Pentium D and Extreme Edition CPU support; LGA775 CPU socket; 2x PCIe x16 slots; ATI CrossFire support; 1x PCIe x1 slot; 3x PCI slots; SATA RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 modes; 8x SATA ports; 2x IDE ports; 4x DIMM slots; 1x FireWire; 6x USB 2.0; serial, parallel and game/midi ports; 2x Gigabit Ethernet; 1x external SATA.
The product is distributed by Achieva Technology, Cellnet, Synnex and Ingram Micro.