Make no mistake about it; the P3C-E is a big motherboard! Remember back when the BX6 2.0 and BX6 were considered large motherboards? Well, the P3C-E is larger than both of them! Those of you with small cases may run into problems installing the P3C-E inside your system case.
The reason the motherboard is so large is because it shares the same basic platform as all of the ASUS P3C series of motherboards. (With the exclusion of the SMP-ready P3C-D and to a lesser extent the P3C2000)
Believe it or not that's
a BX6 on top of the P3C-E!
Cutouts for the Adaptec 7892 Ultra 160 SCSI controller and Intel 82559 10/100Mbps LAN used on other ASUS P3C motherboards are present on the P3C-E as well as the necessary cutouts for the connectors.
Cutouts for components present
on other ASUS P3C boards
While sharing the same platform cuts costs for ASUS, in the case of the P3C-E it leaves a lot of wasted space.
Unfortunately, even with this added size, we had to use the standard Intel retail heatsink/fan during FC-PGA testing. Our homemade oversized heatsink/fan combination was too large to fit comfortably with the RDRAM module or even the RIMM continuity module installed in the first RIMM socket.
Not much space left between
the heatsink and RDRAM module
One feature that stands out is the AGP Pro slot. While most motherboard manufacturers have chosen the universal AGP slot, the entire P3C line uses AGP Pro. These new slots are fully compliant with conventional AGP 4X/2X cards and operate at the same transfer rate. The difference is the additional power; AGP Pro slots can power video cards up to 110W.
With video cards consuming more power with each generation the AGP Pro slot is built for the future. In fact, Nvidia's reference Quadro DDR board requires an AGP Pro interface.
AGP Pro slot
Just pay careful attention when installing conventional AGP graphics cards, incorrect installation could damage the card and the slot itself.
One of the nice features of the P3C2000 was the power LED; unfortunately our P3C-E didn't have this feature. With all the empty space on the P3C-E we were disappointed to see it go as we believe it's a nice feature that should be implemented on more motherboards.
As an added backup (and an option for OEM's) the P3C-E ships with DIP switches. By default, the motherboard is set to Jumper Free mode, which can be disabled by system jumpers. The DIP switches are in an easy to access location at the bottom of the motherboard, which is the perfect spot once the motherboard is housed inside a case.