Somewhat less deluxe
We reviewed the Deluxe version of Asus' P6T back in November and recommended it over Intel's own DX58SO. At $309 online, however, the Deluxe is still a little rich for our blood. For about $70 less, you can get your hands on the vanilla P6T, which is still very well equipped for a high-end motherboard.
Given their shared model designation, one might expect standard and Deluxe versions of the P6T to be based on the same basic board design. However, the two layouts are actually quite different. Slots and ports have been moved, coolers swapped, and power phases juggled to set the vanilla P6T apart from its Deluxe predecessor.
Fortunately, this tweaked board design is free of awkward layout quirks. The P6T's power plugs are nicely located along the edges of the board where cabling can cleanly be routed away from hot spots like the processor. Those who prefer upside-down enclosures that put the power supply below the motherboard will need plenty of length in their PSU's auxiliary 12V line to reach the connector, though.
The P6T cuts its Deluxe counterpart's power phases by half, but that still leaves eight phases for the processor core and two more for the uncore components. That should be plenty for the sort of spirited overclocking that enthusiasts tend to prefer over more extreme, liquid-nitrogen-fueled record attempts. As is all the rage these days, the board is also littered with fancy electrical components, including low-RDS(on) MOSFETs, Ferrite-core chokes, and conductive-polymer capacitors.
I'm an, er, big fan of gargantuan processor coolers with massive and quiet 120mm fans, and the P6T's socket area leaves plenty of room for such monstrosities. Heatsinks cap the north bridge chip and power regulation circuitry, but they're low-profile affairs that stay out of the way.
Asus has arranged most of the P6T's storage ports along the right-hand side of the board. This placement ensures that even super-stretched graphics cards won't block off access to any of the SATA ports. The top two Serial ATA ports are located above the highest PCI Express x16 slot, so they're safe from obstruction, too. As you've probably guessed, the orange SATA ports are hooked into the board's JMicron controller, while the red ports are fed by the ICH10R.
The P6T makes the most of its three PCI Express x16 slots, supporting CrossFire and SLI in both two- and three-way configurations. Asus has nicely arranged the x16 slots to make it possible to run three double-wide graphics cards side by side. Two-way configs are certainly going to be more popular, and with those, you'll still have access to a standard PCI slot and a physical PCIe x16 slot with four lanes of bandwidth.
'round back, the P6T's port cluster offers a little bit of everything. Unlike most of Asus' recent motherboards, this one actually has PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports. In addition, you get six USB ports, Firewire and Ethernet jacks, and an eSATA port backed by a JMicron controller. If that's not enough connectivity for your needs, there are also onboard headers for one Firewire and six USB ports.
On the audio front, the P6T has analog and digital output options covered nicely. A full complement of analog input and output ports is included alongside TOS-Link and coaxial digital S/PDIF outputs. We'd like to see digital inputs make the port cluster, too, but for most folks, the S/PDIF output flexibility is probably more useful.
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