The ASUS P7P55 WS Supercomputer board is a full sized ATX motherboard with dimensions of 12 inches by 9.6 inches. The PCB is colored black like most ASUS branded motherboards. The top right hand corner of the board has a series of capacitors, followed by an 8-pin power connector. The orientation of the 8-pin is sideways to the MOSFET heatsink.
The MOSFET heatsink on top of the CPU socket is connected by a heat pipe to the X58 Northbridge chip which is further connected by heatpipe to the ICH10R Southbridge chip. It is an efficient setup that ASUS uses on many of their motherboards. The CPU Socket itself is surrounded by 19 PWMs that form the 16+3 Hybrid Power Phases on the board with 3 dedicated to the onboard memory controller on the CPU. The CPU area is clear to allow the installation of after-market cooling solutions.
Below the CPU socket is the four DIMM Slots for up to 16GB of ECC/non-ECC DDR3 memory. The board is rated up to 2200MHz when overclocked, as the memory controller on a Core i7 LGA-1156 CPU is only rated for 1333MHz speed. There are three overvoltage switches on the right hand side of the memory DIMMs allowing the user to overvolt the DRAM, the integrated memory controller and the CPU. The bottom of the board starts off with a Winbond chip to control the temperature readings.
A COM1 header is next. The next item is a MemOK button, which is used with memory compatibility issues, as there are memory modules that might have issues, and MemOK sets the memory to a default compatibility mode. The 24-pin power connector is next on the board with two fan headers above it. One thing of note is that the CPU fan header is on top of the board instead of the side as on many boards along with the Chassis fan header due to the orientation of the CPU Socket.
Storage options on the board consist of six SATA 3Gb/second ports that are sideways oriented to the board itself. The ICH10R Southbridge chip controls the SATA ports in RAID 0, 1,5,10 modes. The Intel Matrix Storage manager is one of the easiest to work within the industry, simply hit Ctrl+I on prompt and you will be brought to the RAID setup menu once it’s set in the BIOS. The Clear CMOS jumper is located below the battery which is above the SATA ports on this board.
The left side of the board starts off with the Front Panel I/O which is designed to work with the ASUS Q-Connector package to easily connect the wires to the FP I/O. A Chassis Fan header is next followed by the TPM header. Interestingly enough, there are two USB ports next on the board. This is followed by two headers for four further USB ports, then the Firewire port, the CD-In, the S/PDIF and the AAFP header.
The board has an interesting expansion layout with no less than five PCI Express x16 slots. This is organized as two PCIe 2.0 X16 slots that operate at x16 or x8 mode, two PCIe 2.0 X16 slots that operate at x8 mode, a PCIe x16 that operates at x4 mode, a PCie x1 slot and a PCI slot to round it all out. The inclusion of a NF200 chip means that the motherboard has enough bandwidth among its PCIe lanes to offer up to three cards at x16, x8, x8 bandwidth which is 32 PCIe lanes, more than the 16 found on the P55 chipset.
The onboard audio is provided by a Realtek ALC1200 CODEC which is the newest audio solution from that company. This supports Multi-Streaming, Jack Sensing, Front Panel Jack Retasking, and Coaxial/Optical S/PDIF out ports and ASUS Noise Filter. The rear I/O on the board comes with a PS/2 mouse, a PS/2 keyboard, eight USB 2.0 ports, two LAN ports, a Firewire port, a Optical S/PDIF Out port, a Coaxial S/PDIF Out port, and six audio jacks for the onboard audio solution. ASUS includes two Realtek 8112L Gb LAN PHYs which support teaming, allowing the motherboard to use the LAN ports as a single connection.