ASUS P5MT Board Review
At first look, the P5MT seems pretty
plain compared to a full featured desktop board. Well, its designed that way.
Unlike desktop boards, server ones are designed to do what its intend to and do
it well, thus unnecessary features don’t find their way to the board. We will
take a closer look at this board and highlight the key differences between
desktop counterparts. The board layout is rather unique. The position of the RAM
slots, Northbridge and CPU socket is different from a conventional desktop
This board is designed to operated in
a 1U server chassis. Due to space constraint (1U is limited to just 1.75″ tall),
it is not feasible to have a separate fan to cool the CPU, the chipset and the
RAMs. This arrangement allows a large passive heatsink to be installed onto the
CPU and the fans mounted in front of the board to cool both the CPU and chipset,
as well as the RAM. The hot air will exhaust from the rear of the chassis. This
unique configuration also allows the HDDs to be cooled as well, all from the
same fan! Another point to take note is that our
usual desktop boards will not fit into a 1U chassis. The height of the audio
ports causes it to be protruding out and as a result, the chassis cover will not
be able to close properly. This problem does not affect 2U or taller chassis
As a sever board, stability and
reliability are of paramount importance. Here you can see the high quality
Fairchild capacitors used around the CPU socket to provide clean power to the
CPU. The whole board is populated with capacitors from Matsushita and Rubycon.
The I/O ports at the
rear is pretty much a minimalist affair providing what is necessary for server
usage. You don’t see numerous USB ports, no game port, sound
or Firewire. Instead, you see 2 gigabit LAN ports. The onboard VGA connector is
visible as well.
The 2 long white slots are 64bit 133MHzPCI-X slots. They have a bandwidth
of over 1GB/s and are meant for devices such as SCSI RAID controllers. Do not
confuse them with PCI-E though. The PCI-E slot is right beside.
Here is the ATI Rage XL VGA chipset.
It is one of the oldest graphics chip in use around but it is more than adequate
for server usage. You will see this on numerous different models.
The Rage XL graphics
chip is coupled with onboard 64MB Samsung SDRAM graphics memory working at
P5MT comes with two
Broadcom BCM5721 GbE controllers onboard, each having PCI Express 1x host
interface enabling 2Gbps throughput. The BCM5721 supports the Intelligent
Platform Management Interface (IPMI) 1.5 manageability standard that allows
servers to be remotely managed. The BCM5721 utilizes a fully integrated
10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet MAC, on-chip buffer memory, and integrated
PHY in a single-chip solution fabricated in a low-voltage, 0.13-micron CMOS
process that provides low power consumption.
There is a Mini-PCI slot
for optional Mini-PCI ASMB 2 card for server management supporting SOL, 128bit
MD5 authentic encryption, FRU data management, remote power on/off & reset,
remote BIOS reflash/modify.
Intel E7230 MCH supports
Pentium 4, Pentium D and even Pentium Extreme Edition on 800/1066MHz FSB. It
also supports Hyper-Threading , EM64T, Execute Disable Bit, Enhanced Intel
SpeedStep Technology (EIST) as well as Intel Active Management Technology. It
allows up to 8GB memory addressing as well as ECC memory support.
E7230 MCH is connected to ICH7R Southbridge through the Direct Media Interface
of 2GB/s interconnect bandwidth. The ICH7R supports 8 Hi-Speed USB 2.0 ports, 6
PCI ports, Legacy ATA-100, 2 PCI Express x1 ports, 1 PCI Express x1 port, 4
Serial ATA ports at 3Gbps each. The E7230 MCH is also connected to 6702PXH 64-bit PCI-X Hub
through PCI Express x8 I/O port providing two PCI-X 64-bit slots at 133MHz.