Asus P5E3 Premium WiFi-AP@n Review

ccokeman - 2008-03-18 05:57:18 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: April 24, 2008
Price: $369.99

Introduction:

As a full featured motherboard, the P5E3 Premium WiFi-AP@n Edition is equipped with the latest and greatest hardware and innovations. Supporting the latest Intel 45nm CPUs, 8GB of DDR3 memory at speeds of up to 2000MHz (overclocked, of course), dual 802.11n wireless LAN as well as dual gigabit capability, the P5E3 Premium is just a fully loaded motherboard. But wait, there's more! Additional features include the eight channel high definition sound, three 16x PCI-E slots, two for graphics and one for universal use, Express Gate for the ability to gain access to the Internet without going into the OS in as little as five seconds, new power control circuits for the CPU, and memory and northbridge chipset to enable the enthusiast to extract the most from their hardware. Wait, there's still more!! The P5E3 Premium features an EPU (Energy Processing Unit) that Asus says can save up to 80.23% in CPU power consumption. Pretty substantial if it can do it. In today's world of ever increasing energy costs, any place to save money makes the inclusion of this technology that much more attractive in an electronic device, in this case a motherboard, the P5E3 Premium WiFi-AP@n Edition.

Closer Look:

The front of the packaging highlights some of the main features of the P5E3 Premium. Since energy savings and being "green" are main selling points in today's energy conscious world, it is only fitting that these items are out front where they can be seen. The small chip seen in the bottom right corner signifies that this P5E3 Premium motherboard is equipped with an EPU (Energy Processing Unit) that helps minimize the amount of energy consumed while touting an 80+ percent energy savings. The rear panel includes the specifications as well as a brief explanation for some of the main features of the P5E3, including the Asus EPU, Express Gate, WiFi-AP@n and the newest iteration of Asus's eight phase power design. But wait, there is more. Flip open the lid and find a detailed desciption on the Asus EPU and some of the additional features. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The outer sleeve that contains the bulk of the information slides off to reveal a plain black box with the AI Life graphic. Opening the box, I was greeted by the usual abundance of accessories that Asus provides. The P5E3 Premium is located just under a divider panel that keeps the accessories from doing damage in transit.

 

 

After getting a glimpse of the bundle of accessories, let's see just what was included.

 

Closer Look:

The bundle of goods that Asus provides will get you started and then some. There are enough SATA cables - six - as well as an IDE and floppy ribbon cable, a 1394 Firewire/USB 2.0 expansion bracket, two omnidirectional antennas, the manuals and driver disc, the Q connectors, Q shield and two fans to mount on the cooling assembly if you will be passively cooling the CPU. The SATA, IDE and floppy ribbon cables are self explanatory and need no further review, but many of the other pieces warrant a closer look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Q connectors are a nifty little feature to have which I am glad to see still included. How many times have you been hunched over that latest build trying to get the little connections for the USB, Firewire and front panel connections mounted to the board? Well not anymore. Place the wires on the Q connectors and push an entire assembly on instead of doing the tiny wire shuffle hoping for a positive outcome. Each connector is clearly labeled so that the wires go on right the first time. The other Q is the Q shield. This I/O shield from Asus has something missing. Can you spot it? That's right, no small metal tabs to break out or push out of the way to use all of the connectivity the board has to offer, as well as no more cut fingers trying to remove the metal tabs.

 

 

The Q fan is used when the P5E3 Premium will be used in a passively cooled environment such as when the CPU is water cooled. These fans clip on to the heatsinks above the VRM circuits, providing additional airflow to cool these components down.

 

 

The omnidirectional antennas are used with the wireless 802.11n built in wireless network card. This gives you connectivity to the web in any room of the house. The Firewire/USB expansion bracket will allow for an additional two USB ports to be utilized on the back end of the PC.

 

 

You have seen how the P5E3 Premium WiFi-AP@n comes to the consumer and the accessories that it ships with, so now let's get up close and personal with the board.

 

Closer Look:

THe P5E3 Premium WiFi-AP@n edition is an ATX form factor motherboard using the Intel X48 northbridge chipset and the ICH9R southbridge. The board is manufactured using the Asus "Stack Cool" technology that allows the PCB to help dissipate the heat generated by the onboard components, providing an up to 20 degree Celsius drop in operating temperatures with this fanless design. The southbridge features an additional heatsink on the backside of the board, while an additional strap is used for the northbridge. The Express Gate and EPU features are pointed out front and center with stickers highlighting these features.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

The I/O panel allows for plenty of connectivity. PS/2 is still available for the keyboard, if needed. Available connections include six USB 2.0/1.1 ports, two e-SATA ports, one 1394 Firewire, Coax and Optical digital audio out, 8-channel High Definition sound, Dual Gigabit LAN ports (one Marvell and one Realtek) and Dual WiFi-AP@n jacks. More than enough to satisfy even the enthusiasts. The one thing I found not on this board was the clear CMOS switch that I have grown accustomed to seeing on higher end boards.

 

 

The WiFi card is hard mounted to the motherboard PCB and is just above the top x16 PCI-E slot. Expansion needs are met with one x1 PCI-E slot, two standard PCI slots and three x16 PCI-E slots. The two blue slots are designed for use with dual graphics cards while the third black slot is a universal x16 PCI-E slot that runs at a max of x4, though that is dependent on the type of device installed in the slot.

 

 

In between the bottom blue x16 PCI-E slot and the bottom PCI slot is the Express Gate module. This is not much more than a USB thumb drive taken to its bare components and installed onto the PCB. This module uses a stripped down Linux distro to allow for a quick connection to the Internet without going into the installed OS.

 

 

Moving along to the bottom of the P5E3, the available connections include the front panel audio, digital SPDIF for Asus HDMI capable video cards, a com port, a single Firewire connection, two USB headers, the clear CMOS jumper and last, but not least, are the front panel connection header and CMOS battery.

 

 

The right hand side of the P5E3 contains all of the drive connectivity. There are six SATA ports onboard, controlled by the Intel ICH9R southbridge; the single IDE port is controlled by the Jmicron controller and further up the board there is the floppy drive connection. Seen just above the floppy connection is the chassis intrusion jumper.

 

 

Power is supplied to the P5E3 Premium via a 24-pin EATX power supply connection as well as an 8-pin EATX auxillary 12 volt connection along the top of the board. The four memory slots support up to 8GB of DDR3 2000 (OCed), 1600(OCed), 1333, 1066, and 800 FSB memory. Intel X.M.P. (Extreme Memory Profile) is supported on the P5E3 Premium as long as a CPU with a native FSB of 1333MHz or higher is installed.

 

 

The P5E3 Premium is fitted with an all copper heatpipe assembly that covers the the nortbridge, southbridge and voltage regulation circuits. One thing you will notice right away is that the heatsinks are attached using screws and not push pins. The exception is the heatsink over the CPU voltage regulation circuit.

 

 

The CPU socket area of the P5E3 is pretty crowded with the capacitors and chokes to control the third generation eight phase power circuit. Even with space at a premium, I was able to install both a large air cooling setup as well as a universal fit water block during the testing of the board. Not only does the CPU get a new generation power circuit, but the P5E3 includes a three phase power supply circuit for the DDR3 memory while the northbridge gets a new two phase circuit. For a motherboard that is not squarely aimed at the gamer, this board has improved on the past generations of control circuitry to allow the enthusiast to better control power to the vital components, maximizing the overclocking of the installed components.

 

 

One of the special features of the P5E3 is the EPU (Energy Processing Unit). This small chip hides up under the heatsink assembly and is at the heart of the power saving features of the P5E3.

 

Now that we know what accompanies the P5E3 Premium to the user as well as having looked the board over in detail, it's time to get it installed and get to performance testing.

 

Configuration:

Finally, you have the buildup done and the hardware is ready to go. But wait there is that whole installing the operating system and drivers before playtime. Asus includes as part of the bundle a driver and utilities disc that includes not only the drivers for the operating system of your choosing but also a collection of utilities to get you started. After the OS is installed, the drivers will be needed to complete the installation of the software part of the build. Pop the driver disc into the optical drive and the auto run utility should pop up. Follow the instructions and soon enough the Asus support software GUI will open up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first tab in the GUI is the Drivers section. In this tab there is an "All in One" utility that allows the installation of all of the motherboard and peripherals drivers in one shot. Manually installing each driver on its own is possible as well. The second tab is the Utilities tab. This section gives the user the option of installing a suite of Asus specific monitoring /overclocking utilities.

 

 

Next on the list is the Make Disk tab. In this section you will be able to make a driver disk to make installing a RAID array a painless process. The Manual tab features soft copies of additional manuals that may be needed. Last, but not least, is the Contact tab that gives contact numbers for both the Asus home office and of course, the numbers to contact tech support if, or when, needed.

 

 

 

To install the drivers, you can choose the "Install All" option to install all of the drivers needed by the OS to operate the hardware on the motherboard, such as the sound, LAN and X48 chipset drivers.

 

 

The same "Install All" option is available under the utilities tab. Choosing to install all does just that. Manually installing these options takes just slightly longer than the "Install All" option, but by allowing the "Install All" utility to run gives you some time to do other things while it completes.

 

The utilities that Asus has included cover the whole spectrum of usability. PcProbe II to monitor the critical voltages and temperatures, Asus Update to save, download and flash the BIOS, and AI Suite to allow overclocking from the Windows environment.

 

 

The WiFi-AP software can be configured to be used in client mode (connection to a wireless access point) or in AP mode where the board becomes the access point to the WAN. It can be configured to suit your wireless network needs.

 

 

The SoundMax software is fully able to be customized to your listening tastes. The options are there to change many of the features. The screen shots below are just the beginning of what can be adjusted.

 

 

Some of the included programs are Corel's Snapfire Plus photo editing tool and Norton's Internet Security. Both useful tools to have.

 

 

On to exploring the BIOS on the P5E3 Premium WiFi-AP@n Edition!

 

Closer Look:

The BIOS can make or break an enthusiast grade motherboard. Many times the initial BIOS is a compromise to get the product out the door and into the hands of the users. Of course, then there are the countless revisions to fix the little things that crop up. The BIOS that came on the P5E3 Premium was version number 0151. The only reason to flash the BIOS should be to fix a problem. The 0204 version has a fix to increase the compatibility of some DDR3 modules with this board. I had no issues, but flashed it anyhow. The BIOS contains many adjustments and features and I will look through each section to see what is available. The Extreme Tweaker section will be covered in detail on another page due to the wealth of information.

 

 

 

 

Main:

The Main section gives the time, date and some basic system information. The installed drives, optical, hard and floppy, can be accessed and checked in this section.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advanced:

The Advanced section contains the main CPU setup options, including the clock multiplier and the energy saving features such as C1E support . The onboard peripherals can be configured in this section of the BIOS.

 

 

Power:

The Power section contains the suspend mode selection, as well as the hardware monitoring section. In the hardware monitoring section, the main voltages and temperatures can be monitored.

 

 

Boot:

The Boot section contains the adjustments relevant to the boot sequence. Device boot order, hard drive boot order and the basic boot configuration are here.

 

 

Tools:

This section seems to be tailored for the enthusiast. Under the Asus OC Profile, you have the ability to save overclocked profiles that work for you so that when that bad batch of settings just won't work, you can fly back to this section and reset to a known performance profile, be it mild or wild. Asus EZ Flash 2 makes flashing the BIOS a simple process. The program looks for BIOS files on removable media, so it's a simple choose and click process.

 

Closer Look:

The AI Tweaker section of the BIOS is where all of the hardware specific settings can be adjusted. For a board that is not targeted specifically toward the gamer and overclocker, one look into the BIOS sums up the capability to adjust just about anything that impacts performance. Extreme Tweaker 2 is a process where the adjustments can be made in small steps, whereas in the past, large jumps were the only option available. Voltage adjustments can be changes in increments of .02 volts rather than the .05 commonly seen. Time to dig a little deeper into what makes the P5E3 tick.

The top of the page starts out with the AI Overclock Tuner. Manual, Auto and X.M.P. are the options. CPU ratio setting is dependent upon the CPU that is installed. The FSB strap can be left at Auto or set to one of four options to maximize performance based on the FSB speed you happen to be running.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CPU clock frequency can be adjusted from 200MHz to 800MHz. PCI-E can be tweaked from 100 to 180. Memory speed is dependent on the core clockspeed you have chosen to run. 2000 and 1600 are available if your CPU can handle to 500MHz FSB clock speed needed to get there. Command rate for the memory can be set to 1 or 2T. So far, this board likes 1T.

 

 

 

The number of memory timings that can be tweaked are just incredible. The settings can be set to auto or manual. Manual is, of course, for the tweakers.

 

 

AI Clock Twister and AI Transaction Booster can affect system stability as well as increase performance. Both items can be manually adjusted to help reach the maximum overclock or maximum performance of the hardware that is installed.

 

 

The bottom of the AI Tweaker page has the voltage options. The available items adjustment include the standard CPU, memory, northbridge voltage, but there is actually much more to be looked at with the P5E3. CPU voltage can be adjusted to 2.1 volts, memory can go as high as 2.78 volts, CPU PLL volts to 2.78, Northbridge to 2.21 volts. The voltage is there if you need it and want to play on the extreme side of the fence.

 

 

 

 

 

One more thing that can be adjusted is the Load Line Calibration. This option is effectively used to help minimize the vdroop that many boards exhibit. Auto, Normal and Performance are the available options.

 

After seeing how extensive the BIOS options are, I am eager to see how the board performs.

 

Specifications:

CPU

Intel Socket 775 Core™2 Quad/Core™2 Extreme/Core™2 Duo/Pentium® Extreme/Pentium® D/Pentium® 4 Processors

Compatible with Intel® 05B/05A/06 processors
Support Intel® next generation 45nm CPU
Chipset
Intel X48
Intel ICH9R
Intel Fast Memory Access Technology
Front Side Bus
1600/1333/1066/800 MHz
Memory

4 x DIMM, Max. 8 GB, DDR3 2000*/1800*/1600/1333/1066/800 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory

Dual Channel memory architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
* Overclocking speed

** For the X.M.P. support, CPUs with FSB 1333 or above are recommended.

*** Refer to www.asus.com or this user manual for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors List).

Expansion Slots

3 x PCIe x16 (blue @PCIe2.0 x16 mode, black @PCIe x4 or x1 mode) supports CrossFire Technology

1 x PCIe x1
2 x PCI
Storage
Southbridge

6 xSATA 3 Gb/s ports Intel Matrix Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10

JMicron® JMB363 PATA and SATA controller
1 xUltraDMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices
2 xExternal SATA 3.0 Gb/s port (SATA On-the-Go)
Support RAID 0,1,JBOD
LAN

Dual Gigabit LAN controllersMarvell 88E8056® PCIe Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2

Realtek RTL8110SC® PCI Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2
Wireless LAN
ASUS WiFi-AP @n

- 300Mbps* IEEE 802.11n (Draft) and backwards compatible with IEEE 802.11g / b

- Software Access Point mode

*300Mbps is IEEE 802.11n draft specification. Actual throughput will vary depending on the wireless environment and other parameters

Audio
ADI® AD1988B 8 -Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
Support Jack-Sensing, Enumeration, Multi-streaming
AI Audio 2
IEEE 1394

Agere® L-FW3227 1394a controller supports 2 x 1394a ports (one at midboard; one at back panel)

USB
10 USB 2.0 ports (4 ports at mid-board, 6ports at back panel)
ASUS AI Lifestyle Features
 
ASUS Power Saving Solution
- ASUS EPU (Energy Processing Unit)
- ASUS 3rd Generation 8-phase Power
- ASUS AI Nap
ASUS AI Lifestyle
- ASUS Express Gate
 
- ASUS WiFi-AP @n
- ASUS AI Direct Link
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution
- ASUS Fanless Design: Pure Copper Heat-pipe solution
- ASUS Fanless Design: Stack Cool 2
- ASUS Q-Fan 2
- ASUS Optional Fan for Water-cooling or Passive-Cooling only
 
ASUS Crystal Sound
- ASUS Noise Filter
- ASUS AI Audio 2
ASUS EZ DIY
- ASUS Q-Connector
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS AI Slot Detector
Overclocking Features
Intelligent overclocking tools
- ASUS AI Booster Utility
Precision Tweaker 2
- vDIMM: 65 -step DRAM voltage control
- vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.00625V increment
- vChipset (N.B.): 49-step voltage control
- vFSB Termination: 16-step reference voltage control
- vCPU PLL: 65-step CPU PLL voltage control
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
- FSB tuning from 200MHz up to 800MHz at 1MHz increment
- Memory tuning from 800MHz up to 3200MHz

- PCI Express frequency tuning from 100MHz up to 150MHz at 1MHz increment

Overclocking Protection
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Special Features
Multi-language BIOS
ASUS MyLogo 3
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
2 x External SATA
1 x S/PDIF Out
1 x IEEE 1394a
2 x LAN(RJ45) port
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
8 -Channel Audio I/O
2 x WiFi-AP @n antenna jack
Internal I/O Connectors
2 x USB connectors support additional 4 USB ports
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector
6 x SATA connectors
1 x IEEE 1394a connector
1 x CPU Fan connector
1 x Chassis Fan connector
1 x Power Fan connector
1 x COM connector
1 x S/PDIF Out connector
2 x4-pin ATX 12V Power connector
24 -pin ATX Power connector
Front panel audio connector
Chassis Intrusion connector
CD/AUX audio in
System Panel Connector
BIOS
16 Mb Flash ROM
DMI 2.0
AMI BIOS
PnP
WfM 2.0
SM BIOS 2.3
ACPI 2.0a
Multi-language BIOS
ASUS EZ Flash 2
ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
Manageability
WfM 2.0,DMI 2.0,WOL by PME,WOR by PME, PXE
Accessories
UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
FDD cable
6 x Serial ATA cables
1 x 2-port Serial ATA power cable
ASUS Q-Shield
User's manual
ASUS WiFi-AP @n manual
3 in 1 Q-connector
1 x 2-port USB2.0 / 1-port IEEE1394 module
2 x Optional Fan for Water-Cooling or Passive-Cooling only
ASUS WiFi-AP @n omni-directional antenna
               
Support Disc
Drivers
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS AI Suite
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
ASUS Update
ASUS WiFi-AP @n Wizard
Image-Editing Suite
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x24.4 cm )

 

Features:

CPU, Chipset and Graphics features

 

Memory Features

 

ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution

 

ASUS EZ DIY

 

ASUS overclocking tools

 

ASUS Crystal Sound

 

Other Innovative Features

 

Interface Features

 

ROHs

All information listed here gathered from Asus website at http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=11&l3=640&l4=0&model=2069&modelmenu=1

Testing:

Testing of the Asus P5E3 Premium will include both scientific as well as gaming benchmarks to see what kind of performance the motherboard can deliver and how it compares to other motherboards. The OverclockersClub series of benchmarks include both system tests and gaming benchmarks to verify the performance of this product. I will be comparing the performance of the P5E3 against the Gigabyte X48-DQ6, Foxconn MARS and Abit IX38 Quad GT. The tests will compare performance against P35, X38 and X48 chipped DDR2 boards to see if the new tech can outshine the old. Testing will be a direct comparison of our stock speed benchmarking; all clockspeeds and memory timings will be as close as possible to offer a fair comparison on each of the boards. All motherboard and video card settings were left at setup defaults, again to eliminate any variables.

 

Testing Setup:

Comparison Motherboards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

450 x 8 was a pretty strong start to the overclocking part of this test. By dropping the clock multiplier to 7 and raising the FSB frequency in 5MHz increments, I was able to get into Windows at a speed of 492 x 7 with my Q6600. 500MHz was bootable, but my CPU just would not have any part of it going into Windows at that speed. FSB is nice, and with a DDR3 motherboard there is the ability to run the memory at a 1:2 ratio with just about any CPU out as long as the memory can handle the speed increase. What I wanted to see was just how high the Q6600 would run reliably. After maxing the FSB, the multiplier was increased back to 8 and I started at the 450MHz mark again. 475 x 8 was easy enough to get into Windows, but it just was not stable enough to complete the benchmark suite. I finally settled down to 470 x 8, or 3.76 GHz for the final overclock. At this speed, I easily completed the whole benchmark suite as well as continuing to run the F@H SMP client without a failure. Just in case you go a bit too far, the recovery from a failed overclock is just a shutdown away. Not once in the testing of the P5E3 did I need to hit the clear CMOS jumper for a fresh start. What was surprising was that the voltages required were less than what was needed on the P35 and X38 based motherboards I have tested. Less voltage means less heat and increased longevity of the parts that are installed. A win all the way around.

 

Benchmarks:

  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. SpecviewPerf 10
  4. PCMark Vantage Professional
  5. Sandra XII
  6. ScienceMark 2.02 Final
  7. Cinebench 10
  8. HD Tune 2.54
  1. Crysis
  2. Knights of the Sea
  3. Bioshock
  4. Call of Duty 4
  5. World in Conflict
  6. Call of Juarez
  7. 3DMark 06 Professional

 

Testing:

The first part of our testing regimen will be the system specific benchmarks.

 

Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:

 

 

The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower is Better

 

WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 10MB, 100MB, and 500MB files, as well as test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds.

 

ZIP:

 

 

 

RAR:

 

 

 

The Apophysis testing did not show the X48 chipped P5E3 to be any faster than the other boards. The WinRAR testing was another story. When compressing the 10MB files, the performance was equal across the board. Once the file size increased, the P5E3 Premium took a the lead in all but one of the tests.

 

 

 

Testing:

Specview 10 is a benchmark designed to test OpenGL performance. I will be using the multi-threaded tests to measure the performance when run in this mode. The tests used for comparison are listed below. The default multi-threaded tests were chosen to be able to compare across platforms. In these tests, higher scores equate to better performance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is Better

 

Higher is Better

 

 

 

Higher is Better

 

PCMark Vantage is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual board to see which board, if any, rises above the others.

 

Performance was pretty similar across the board. The largest deficit was in the Vantage testing. In the Maya testing, the P5E3 fell a bit short in the dual thread test while in the four thread test it performed better than the older chipsets and fell just short of the competitor's X48 offering.

 

Testing:

Sisoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of the key areas of the motherboards.

 

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multi-Core Efficiency

 

Memory Bandwidth

 

Memory Latency

 

Cache and Memory

 

File System

 

Physical Disks

 

Power Management Efficiency

 

Performance across the chipsets was fairly similar in all of the tests completed. Strong points for the P5E3 were the memory specific tests. Hard drive performance is equal across all of the boards.

 

Testing:

Sciencemark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is Better!

 

Cinebench is useful for testing your system, CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

 

Higher is Better

 

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

 

Higher is Better

 

 

Lower is Better

 

The P5E3 Premium outperformed the comparison boards outright in 16 out of 35 tests. When you add the tests where performance was identical to the comparison boards, the number blossoms to 25 out of 35 tests. A number that is quite a bit more respectable. Let's find out if it performs any better in the gaming tests.

 

 

 

Testing:

Crysis is a new addition to the gaming benchmark suite use at OverclockersClub.com. This game is one of the most anticipated and system intensive games to be released to the market right now. The Crysis single player demo includes a GPU benchmark to test the performance of the video card installed in the system. 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The X48 chipset is just noticeably quicker in this game than the previous generation chipset equipped boards.

Testing:

PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new DX10 title that features it's own proprietary graphics engine currently in development. The game is a combination of real time strategy and simulation. You have the ability to control the entire crew, or just a single member. Play as the German, Russian or Allied navies, and prove your mettle on the open seas.

 

The settings we will use are below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The P5E3 Premiums performance was similar to the comparison X48 boards in all of the resolutions tested. At the higher end of the spectrum, the X38 and P35 based boards outperformed the P5E3 by 3FPS.

 

Testing:

Benchmark: BioShock

BioShock is one of the newest games on the market. It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This first-person shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played.

 

Settings:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comparable performance and repeatability with the X48 chipped boards is what I see here in Bioshock.

Testing:

Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare is the successor to the Call of Duty crown. This iteration of the game is fought in many of the world's hot spots with modern armaments and firepower. You can play as either a US Marine or British SAS trooper. SInce this game does not feature an in-game test, I will run through a section of the game and measure average FPS using Fraps 2.9.3.

 

The settings used are listed below:

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Call Of Duty 4, the P5E3 fell a bit short of the performance of the other boards in this benchmark.

Testing:

World In Conflict is a newly released DX10, real-time strategy game that simulated the all out war that the world hopes never comes. The difference in this RTS game is that it is not the typical generate wealth and build type of game. You advance by conquering your foe.

 

The settings we will use are listed below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The X48 boards fall to the older chipsets in every resolution.

Testing:

Call of Juarez is a DirectX10 First Person Shooter set in the Wild West of the late 1800s. The game is inspired, in part, by the movies of the Wild West genre of the seventies and eighties. The game can be played as both single player and multiplayer. The game focuses on realistic graphics and gameplay designed to take advantage of the latest video cards on the market.

 

The settings we will use are listed below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The performance across the resolutions shows the graphic limitations imposed by this game.

Testing

Benchmark: Company of Heroes (Opposing Fronts)

Company of Heroes (Opposing Fronts) is the latest chapter in the Company of Heroes series. The scene is WWII. The mission is Operation Market Garden, the first allied attempt to break into the Third Reich. Play as the British or Germans. This real time strategy game is brought to us by Relic Entertainment.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Performance is similar regardless of board. The maximum difference in FPS is two at the lowest resolution.

 

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The P5E3 Premium finished in front of the comparison boards in two out of four resolutions. The overclocked performance numbers provide a glimpse into the performance potential with the installed components.

Testing:

Express Gate:

Express Gate is a handy little tool that is basically a small Linux distribution on the Express Gate module. What can this do for you and how can it make your life a little easier? Well, suppose you have thoroughly hosed up the operating system, rendering it useless and need to get online and get some info to attempt a fix. Express Gate can help you in this instance. By choosing the "Web" Icon, you can go directly to the Internet to get that fix. The other option available is to use Skype. Both features are easy to use and in reality, provide much quicker access than booting into the traditional OS. On top of that, there is an update program that is included, so that as the OS on the Express Gate module is updated, there is a way to upgrade the OS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Energy Savings:

As energy costs continue to skyrocket most, if not everyone, is scrambling for ways to reduce the financial burden of these energy costs. $100+ to fill up that full size pickup is getting to be too much for most people. With that thought in mind, Asus has included a small chip located under the MOSFET heatsink, so it really is not noticeable. To make this chip, or EPU (Energy Processing Unit), do its thing, a driver is included on the driver installation disc. Install it and the AI Suite of tools and you will be ready to take advantage of this feature. To verify that the EPU is doing its job, you must not be running any settings overclocked or it will pop up an error message alerting you to this fact. Testing this feature required running with all of the Intel specific energy savings features running, as well as the AI Gear 3 utility. By allowing the sytem to remain idle with just the normal system processes running, the idle power usage can be measured. This was done with the power saving features enabled and disabled, as well as taking these measurements under load as shown in the following graphs.

 

Measured Wattage:

 

It looks as though the energy saving features do actually work. The Gigabyte board overall used less current, but the Asus P5E3 had a larger reduction in usage under loaded conditions.

 

Conclusion

Performance-wise, the P5E3 is a mixed bag. Running DDR3 memory at the same timings as comparable DDR2 kits did not really cause a performance loss per se, but once the memory speeds and CPU clockspeeds are increased, the board just comes alive with performance increasing at leaps and bounds. If you count the overall wins and losses, the board does not fare as well as some of the boards tested. Performance against another X48 board shows comparable performance, so on that front repeatability is a big factor. Overclocking on an X48 chipset comes with its own set of rules despite the fact that it's cousin, the X38, offers similar performance. For one thing, the voltages needed were significantly less than what was needed for the same clockspeed on the P35 and X38 based boards. I found that lowering the volts worked well for me. After that it was pretty much point and shoot. Using this approach, I was able to reach 3.76GHz on my trusty Q6600.

The first glimpse of the AI Tweaker section of the BIOS had me thinking that this was a DFI LANParty board with the amount of tweaking options. Thankfully, everything is laid out quite well. The ability to adjust the performance level and having the GTL tuning for the CPU makes overclocking, trying for that last little bit of performance a truly fun time. One of the targeted selling points of the P5E3 Premium is the inclusion of the Energy Processing Unit. As tested, it did what it is supposed to do, which is save energy during system operation. During the testing phase of the review, I was surprised to see a reduction of 37 watts under load during the test. The idle savings were not as significant, but there was still a savings of 17 watts. While priced at $369, the performance potential is there. The price, although high, does reflect on the "premium" status of the board. As such, the expectation is that there is a benefit with that status. The features that Asus has included on the P5E3 are substantial and I could not see myself looking for a more feature-rich board. It has everything included: wireless and wired LAN, eight channel High Definition sound, all the USB connectivity you could need, energy saving features and so much more. During testing, things went as planned without usual intricacies to work through, which was a nice change of pace. If you want a "green" motherboard that comes with everything you need to get started, keep the P5E3 Premium WiFi-AP@n on your short list.

 

Pros

 

Cons