Asus P5E-VM HDMI: A microATX C2D board for gamers?

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The packaging is extravagantly glossy but a standard size. There are many accessories within.

The P5E-VM HDMI box shines like a freshly waxed sports car.

The package contents: Included among the standard accessories are a HDMI to DVI adapter and a three block set of Q-connectors, which makes hooking up a case's front panel, USB, and FireWire connections easy as pie.

From the side. Clearance around the socket is excellent.

From below.


Overall, the P5E-VM HDMI is a beautiful looking board and it carries with itself with a swagger that you just don't see in mATX boards. The use of copper (or copper-colored) chipset heatsinks gives it a look of regality. The layout is efficient. Power and drive connectors are all on the edges, reducing clutter. The use of short solid-state capacitors not only improves the reliability and lifespan of the board, but also helps make the overall appearance cleaner and more sophisticated. There is a 4-pin fan header in the top right corner labeled CPU_FAN and two additional 3-pin headers are located between the northbridge and the USB ports — the higher one is dubbed CHA_FAN1 (even though there is no CHA_FAN2) and the one below it PWR_FAN.

Generally systems that support two case fans will have one in the front and one in the rear, so it would have been better for one of these headers to be located on the right side for better accessibility. In addition, the PWR_FAN header won't accommodate a 4-pin fan as there is a capacitor directly above it. Our only other concern is the placement of the CMOS jumper — it is hidden away between the front panel connectors and the SATA ports. Inside the majority of cases, the bottom of the board will almost touch the floor, making this spot incredibly difficult to get to once it's been installed. There is also a strange component just above the first PCI-E 1x slot perpendicular to the rest of the board with two sets of pins soldered to the bard. In the manual they are designated "ASM_2" and "ASM_1" — no further explanation is given.

A closer look at the chipset heatsinks. The northbridge heatsink stands 36mm high.

The northbridge heatsink is very long with lots of surface area, and plenty of distance between the fins. The southbridge heatsink is similar but with an odd tunnel design in the middle that serves little purpose unless air is directed through it. Though it could use some improvement, it's still far better than the standard black Asus southbridge cooler utilized over the years. Both heatsinks are attached to the board with push-pins.

Back panel.

The back panel offers both VGA and HDMI connections (DVI can be used via the included HDMI to DVI adapter), as well as analog and digital coaxial audio. Both video outputs can be used simultaneously.

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