Asus P5K3 Premium Black Pearl Edition Review

ccokeman - 2007-11-29 22:20:13 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: December 13, 2007
Price: $TBD

Introduction:

When the time comes to purchase a new system, one of the things that you will purchase is a new motherboard. The dilemma you face is which one to get, and how much will it cost. AMD or Intel? Chipset? Manufacturer? Features? Oooohh, so many questions that it makes your head spin. New technology always brings along new hardware. That leads us to the subject of this article. The Asus P5K3 Premium WiFi AP "18th Anniversary Black Pearl Edition." One of the things that sets the P5K3 apart from the rest of the P5K lineup is not just the DDR3 support on this board, but the fact that Asus has built the system memory onto the board. Not only is it built-in, but it is guaranteed to overclock beyond 1500 MHz. No more picking and choosing, hoping the set of memory you choose will give you the performance you want. The P5K3 is a full featured board that provides an on-board solution for sound with the 8-channel High Definition codec. Additional features include dual gigabit LAN, built-in wireless LAN, 8 phase power, all copper zero-failure heatsink design, Crossfire support, 45nm CPU support, onboard DDR3 memory, 10 layer PCB, Stack Cool technology, and native 1333MHz memory support through Asus' special tuning.

With all of these features and more, the Asus P5K3 Premium Black Pearl looks to be the complete package for the overclocker in you. Will it rise back to the surface or end up swimming with the fishes? Let's find out!

Closer Look:

The Asus P5K3 Premium Black Pearl Edition comes in a flashy metallic blue box resembling the shine of the deep blue sea. The front of the box identifies the board, as well as some of the features of the board, including 45nm support and RoHS compliance. The rear panel highlights more of the specifications and features, highlighting the guaranteed memory overclocking above DDR3 1500 and the 10 layer PCB. The package opens to details of the remaining feature set.

 

 

 

The metallic blue outer shell slides off to reveal a pedestrian sky blue inner box. The P5K3 Premium logo is prominently displayed. Once inside the package, the accessory bundle is shown to be pretty lavish. Since the "Black Pearl" editions are optimized for  water cooling, Asus had the foresight to provide a way to cool the heatsinks around the CPU socket with blower-style fans that mount directly onto the heatsinks. Two of these fans are included.

 

By removing the upper cardboard divider, the "Black Pearl" is visible encased in the heart of the packaging. The P5K3 is held securely in its shell by the cardboard divider. With the weight of the copper heatsinks, the board needs all the protection it can get during transport.

 

Closer Look:

The "Black Pearl" edition P5K3 Premium motherboard has several distinctive features that sets it apart from the crowd. First and foremost is the lack of DIMM slots for the system memory. The reason becomes evident when you take a closer look. The memory is actually built onto the board and is heavily heatsinked to reduce its operating temperatures and improve its ability to overclock. With speeds guaranteed at 1500MHz or above, it needs the help. The second distinctive feature is the "Stack Cool 2" method of using the specially designed ten-layered PCB to help cool critical electrical components by transferring heat directly through the PCB. Asus claims a 20 degree celsius reduction of operating temperatures on the critical onboard components.

 

 

 

 

 

The I/O panel features a tremendous number of connectivity options. One thing that is evident is the lack of a PS/2 port for a mouse. Asus has moved away from this option on this board. Not to worry, as most, if not all, of the input peripherals available today are USB. The P5K3 Premium has that avenue covered with six USB ports available on the I/O panel, along with four more available on-board. The remaining options include 1x1394 Firewire, Coax or Optical S/Pdif audio out, 2x E-SATA, Dual Gigabit LAN, 8 channel high definition audio and the Asus Wi-Fi AP. The Wi-Fi card is hard mounted onto the P5K3 instead of making it a removeable add-in assembly.

 

 

This board features two 16x PCI-E slots, one blue for 16x operation and the other, black, which runs at 4x and can run any card from 1x to 16x with a maximum speed of 2 GB/s. These two ports are Crossfire compatible. Three standard PCI slots and two PCI-E 1x slots are also available. If dual graphics cards are used with the stock or aftermarket heatsinks, accessing the PCI slots may prove difficult. However, by using the "Black Pearl" in a water cooled configuration, that is no longer a concern. The internal connectivity options are spread across the bottom and right side of the P5K3. Along the bottom of the board are the High Definition front panel audio header, the S/Pdif out header, the onboard 1394 Firewire, 2x USB ports, and a COM port.

 

 

The front panel connection header and IDE port are located along the bottom right hand side of the board. The main power LED is located just above the IDE port. The SATA connectors are located along the right hand side of the board. Six SATA connectors are available on-board. The red connections are for boot disk usage, or the "master" setting, while the black connections are for disk storage and are configured as the "slave" drive connections. The P5K3 Premium features 2GB of on-board DDR3 1333MHz, non-ECC, un-buffered system memory hidden beneath a set of large copper heatsinks. The chipset natively supports DDR2 1066 memory and due to Asus tuning the board, it is capable of native DDR3 1333 support.

 

 

The CPU socket area on the P5K3 Premium has little left in the way of room. Large air cooled heatsinks could prove interesting to install. The board uses an eight phase power design. This design runs cooler, reduces ripple on incoming current and outgoing voltage, providing increased stability. The heatsink system for this board is a zero failure design. Zero failure is easy enough to achieve when there are no moving parts. The heatpipe heatsinks used on the "Black Pearl" are 100% copper. By using all copper heatsinks, operating temperatures can be decreased for added stability.

 

 

 

Some of the heat generated by the chipsets and memory end up at these two heasinks. These two heatsinks  can be actively cooled by the included blower fans or through air from an air cooled heatsink. The plates on the under side of the board cover the second set of memory modules and the bottom of the P35 chipset.

 

 

 

Closer Look:

The list of accessories that comes with the "Black Pearl" is pretty sizable. Pretty much everything you need to get the board up and running is included. The list of items includes six SATA connectors, one SATA power adapter, a Wi-Fi solo antenna, Floppy and IDE cables, Firewire and USB expansion slot cables, blacked out I/O panel, two blower style fans, driver disc and the motherboard and Wi-Fi documentation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Black Pearl is designed to be used with both water cooling and air cooling. One of the problems with many socket 775 boards when water cooled is how to cool the power regulation circuits to the CPU. Sometimes a fan blowing over the heatsink covering these circuits helps. Sometimes it just creates extra turbulence in the airflow to or from the heatsink. Well, Asus has come up with a solution. It has included two blower style fans that mount directly onto the heatsinks to reduce temperatures of the vital components underneath.

 

 

 

The I/O panel that is included is blacked out instead of the usual chrome finish. A nice touch! The expansion slot cabling includes both USB and and Firewire connectivity.

 

 

To get connected to a wireless network, you will need to use the supplied antenna that screws onto the wireless LAN card. A neat little accessory that Asus included are the the Q-Connectors. They allow the user to make the front panel connections to the connector and then insert that onto the appropriate motherboard header. I found that the installation of the front panel wiring went much quicker using these connectors. The three that are supplied are for the front panel power and LEDs, Firewire and USB. Since the case that the P5K3 is installed in only has two unmarked switch wires, the Q connector is shown with the full compliment of wiring from a CM Stacker to show the added value of it.

 

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Now that all of the components have been seen, let's get the board installed.

 

Installation:

The installation of the P5K3 Premium into the chassis of your choice is not much different from the installation of a generic work station board. The first thing to do on a new build would be to prep the chassis for the board by installing the standoffs and I/O plate specific to the motherboard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next on the list would be to prep the motherboard for installation. Install the processor into the "Black Pearl" by carefully indexing it into the socket. Lock the retaining lever into place and mount the cooling solution of your choice. For this build I will be using a water cooling solution. In lieu of a massive heatsink, I will install a CPU waterblock. The installation is basically the same; slide the backing plate into position under the motherboard, line up the screw holes and tighten it down in a criss cross pattern until it is securely mounted.

 

 

At this point I usually install the system memory, but with the P5K3 Premium I don't have to as it's already built onto the motherboard. The board comes with two blower style fans that mount onto the heatsinks around the CPU socket. These cannot be used with a large air cooling solution for the CPU, but under a water cooling environment, they provide the additional airflow to these heatsinks. To mount the fan, push the tabs on the side in and slide the fan down into place and the "Black Pearl" is ready for the seas...errr...case!

 

 

Insert the motherboard into the chassis and secure it down to the standoffs. Insert the graphics card and any other peripheral cards. Make all of the wiring and drive connections, In this build I will install all of the liquid line connections, prime and leak check before powering up the system and complete any housekeeping and wire management before buttoning up the chassis.

Closer Look:

The BIOS is where we make the magic happen. The motherboard uses an American Megatrends BIOS. There are five main heading tabs to navigate with this BIOS. I will take a quick stroll through each tab and spend most of the focus on the Jumper Free configuration under the Advanced tab.

 

 

Main:

The Main tab allow the user to set the system time and date, as well as allowing for the configuration of the installed hard drives. Manual or automatic configuration can be done.

 

 

 

Advanced:

The Advanced tab is where all of the processor and memory configuration is done. In fact, pretty much all of the system and device specific setup is done under this tab. Automatic settings work well for stock speeds, but to unlock the potential of the P5K3 , setting the parameters manually will definitely yield an increase in performance.

 

 

Power:

The power section allows for setting of the power management options. The ability to monitor the critical voltages on the motherboard, as well as fan configuration, are done in the hardware monitor section.

 

 

Boot:

The Boot menu allows for the selection of which order the installed drives are chosen as the boot drive. The setting of all of the boot options such as Logo screen enable and boot error configuration are managed here.

 

 

Tools:

The Tools section allows for accessing the E-Z Flash BIOS updating utility. Also available are the options for saving an overclocking profile or setup. AI Net allows for checking the condition of the LAN cables connected to the motherboard.

 

Closer Look:

Once you get past the basic settings in the BIOS, it's time to dig a little deeper into the Advanced section. Unlocking the potential of this board is accomplished under this tab. The Advanced tab contains all of the settings that the enthusiast needs to get the most from the board.

The Jumper Free section is where the processor and memory specific settings are made. The default settings leave just about all of the options set to auto. The good thing is that the base settings are pretty good right out of the box. There are several options available to the user here. You can use Auto to load optimal settings, Manual for manual settings, Standard to load the non-optimized options, or the N.O.S. (Non-Delay System overclocking) option to allow the system to make changes based on system load.

 

 

 

 

I have chosen to show the options available when set to manual mode. Why, you ask? This will allow me to show the options the enthusiast wants to know about. This is OverclockerClub, you know. Setting CPU ratio control to enabled allows the clock multiplier to be adjusted down or up based on the limitations of the processor installed.

 

 

The northbidge strap can be adjusted from 200 to 333 FSB. Making adjustments here can help or hinder your overclock. The FSB frequency is adjustable from 200 to 800 FSB. Incredible, if it can be achieved.

 

 

If you are looking for the last bit of bandwidth and clock speed, you can look at adjusting the PCI-E frequency. Adjustments are from 100 to 150. The DRAM frequency is tied into both the processor FSB and northbridge strap settings.

 

 

DRAM command rate can be set to Auto, 1T or 2T. Setting DRAM timing control to manual gives the user full control of the memory's primary and secondary timings.

 

 

Moving down further, the voltage options are available. Processor voltage can be adjusted from 1.100 to 1.70v. Not as high as some other enthusiast boards out there, but still enough to get the job done for most people. The voltage reference can be adjusted within a narrow range to keep the enthusiast from going too far off base. Finally, someone has managed to have an option available to help eliminate the droop in CPU voltage that most boards are plagued with. Options are auto, enabled and disabled.

 

 

The rest of the voltage options have varying effects that can only be tested on each individual system. The voltages are there to get the most from your hardware. Memory voltage has a maximum of 2.25 vdimm, a sustantial increase over the 1.5 volts that DDR3 is designed to run at.

 

 

 

Configuration:

Putting the hardware together is only part of the the installation and configuration puzzle. Once the operating system is installed, you will need to install the drivers specific to the motherboard. Motherboard manufacturers have made this a painless process by including a disc with the correct drivers for the on-board hardware. Many times, the disc will autorun and pop up an installation GUI. If not, the manual option for installation of the drivers is always an option. The GUI that pops up with the included disc is shown below. Each tab has a submenu to allow for the installation of the hardware specific to your build. You start the process by inserting the driver disc into the optical drive in the computer.

 

 

 

 

 

The Drivers tab contain just that. If all of the onboard solutions are used, you would choose each one in turn to install to complete the driver installation. The Utilities tab contains the motherboard utilities for monitoring vital temperatures and voltages with PC Probe II. The AI suite is a series of tools to allow you to view system settings and overclock through Windows.

 

 

The manual section contains the manuals for the storage controllers. Make disk is the section used to make an install disk so that the RAID option can be used when installing the operating system. The last tab shows all of the company's contact information. If a manual driver installation option is chosen, you can explore the disk and pick and choose the options needed that way.

 

 

 

Wi-Fi Solo AP Setup:

 

The Wi-Fi Solo interface has several adjustment and monitoring tabs. The Status tab gives basic top-line information about the setup of the device. The configuration tab allows for switching between AP and Station mode, as well as which wireless standard is used.

 

 

The statistics page show an analysis of packet transactions. The advanced page allows for detailed configuration of the device.The ICS tab is to allow for the configuration of the connection you wish to share when in AP mode.

 

Specifications:

 

 

 

CPU

LGA775 socket for Intel® 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 Multi-Core CPU

Chipset

Intel® P35 / ICH9R with Intel® Fast Memory Access Technology

Front Side Bus

1333 / 1066 / 800 MHz

Memory

Onboard Memory, 2GB ,DDR3 1333, Non ECC unbuffered

Dual Channel Memory architecture,DDR 1500MHZ (OC)The chipset officially supports DDR3 1066. Due to tuning by Asusexclusive technology this motherboard supports up to DDR3 1333. It is recommended that you install a Cpu with fsb 1066 or 1333 to garantee memory overclocking above DDR3 1500.

 

Expansion Slots

2 x PCI-E x16 (blue @ x16 mode, black @ x4 or x1 mode) supports CrossFire Technology
2 x PCI-E x1
3 x PCI

Storage

Southbridge
- 6 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports
- Supports RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10
JMicron® JMB363 PATA and SATA controller
- 1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices
- 2 x External SATA 3.0 Gb/s port (SATA On-the-Go)
- Supports SATA RAID 0,1 and JBOD

LAN

Dual Gigabit LAN controllers, featuring AI NET2
Marvell88E8056® PCI-E Gigabit LAN controllers
RealtekRTL8110SC® PCI Gigabit LAN controller

Wireless LAN

ASUS WiFi-AP Solo
54 Mbps IEEE 802.11g and backwards compatible with 11 Mbps IEEE 802.11b
- Software Access Point mode
- Station mode : Infrastruceure mode and Ad-Hoc mode

Audio

ADI® AD1988B 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
- ASUS Noise Filter

IEEE 1394

EEE 1394a controller supports 2 x 1394a ports (one at midboard; one at back panel)

USB

10 x USB 2.0 ports (4 ports at mid-board, 6ports at back panel)

ASUS AI Lifestyle Features

ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution:
- ASUS Fanless Design: Heat-pipe solution
- ASUS Fanless Design: Stack Cool 2
- ASUS AI Gear2
- ASUS AI Nap
- ASUS 8-Phase Power Design
- ASUS Q-Fan 2
ASUS Crystal Sound:
- ASUS AI Audio 2
- ASUS Noise Filter
ASUS EZ DIY:
- ASUS Q-Connector
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS AI Slot Detector
ASUS WiFi@Home
- ASUS WiFi-AP Solo

Other Features

ASUS MyLogo 3
Multi-language BIOS

Overclocking Features

Intelligent overclocking tools:
- AI NOS™ (Non-delay Overclocking System)
- ASUS AI Booster utility
Precision Tweaker:
- vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.0125V increment
- vDIMM: 16-step DRAM voltage control
- vChipset: 4-step Chipset voltage control
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
- FSB tuning from 200MHz up to 800MHz at 1MHz increment
- Memory tuning from 667MHz up to 1333MHz for DDR2
- PCI Express frequency tuning from 100MHz up to150MHz at 1MHz increment
Overclocking Protection:
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)

Back Panel I/O Ports

1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x S/PDIF Out (Coaxial + Optical)
2 x External SATA
1 x IEEE1394a
2 x RJ45 port
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
1 x WiFi-AP Solo antenna jack
8-channel Audio I/O

Internal I/O Connectors

2 x USB connectors support additional 4 USB ports
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector
1 x COM connector
6 x SATA connectors
1 x CPU Fan connector
4 x Chassis Fan connector
1 x Power Fan connector
1 x IEEE1394a connector
Front panel audio connector
1 x S/PDIF Out Header
Chassis Intrusion connector
CD audio in
24-pin ATX Power connector
2 x 4-pin ATX 12V Power connector
System Panel(Q-Connector)

BIOS

16 Mb Flash ROM, AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, 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

O/S Compatibility

Windows Vista/XP

Accessories

UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
FDD cable
6 x Serial ATA cables
1 x 2-port Serial ATA power cable
I/O Shield
User's manual
ASUS WiFi-AP Solo manual
3 in 1 Q-connector
1 x 2-port USB2.0 / 1-port IEEE1394 module
ASUS WiFi-AP Solo omni-directional antenna

Support CD

Drivers
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS Update
ASUS AI Suite
ASUS WiFi-AP Solo Wizard
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Image-Editing Suite

Form Factor

ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.4cm)

 

Testing:

I will be running the "Black Pearl Edition" P5K3 Premium through our benchmarking suite to see what kind of performance the motherboard delivers. 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 Asus offering against another of Asus' performance offerings to see how well the "Black Pearl" compares. Testing will be a direct comparison of our stock speed benchmarking; all clock speeds and memory timings will be the same on each of the boards to eliminate any variables. All motherboard and video card settings were left at setup defaults, again to eliminate any variables.

 

Testing Setup:

Comparison System:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

In OverclockersClub's review of the P5K Premium "Black Pearl Edition" performance was found to be even across the board in comparison to to the other boards tested. Where it did shine was in the overclocking tests. Will the P5K3 Premium match up performance wise?

Overclocking Quad core processors has met with mixed reviews. Many of the early limitations have been worked on and are no longer an issue. With that said, the highest FSB that was achievable with my particular CPU was 440FSB on the P5K3 Premium. Working to find the highest stable overclock for both the memory and CPU was fairly simple. 400x9 on the CPU and 800MHz on the memory were the two points where the performance maxed out. At this point I was able to complete seventeen hours of Prime 95 without failing. If it's stable that long, it is stable enough for day-to-day use.

 

DDR3, at this time, runs with latencies that are loose when compared to DDR2. Memory timings at 800MHz were 9-7-7-20. At 400MHz, the onboard memory was good for timings of 5-5-5-15 1T. To get the highest speed out of the memory, 2t was required to get to 800MHz.

 

Testing:

The system tests we will be using are listed below:

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 and test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Testing:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CacheMem: This benchmark is another tool we use to gauge memory read-write performance.

 

 

Higher is Better

 

The P5K3 appears to have better system and memory performance on these two benchmarks.

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 key areas of the motherboards.

 

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

 

Multi-Core Efficiency

 

Memory Bandwidth

 

Memory Latency

 

Cache and Memory

 

File System

 

Physical Disks

 

Power Management Efficiency

 

The results for Sandra are split almost 50/50 for each board. The Formula pulls ahead in the file and disk system testing.

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

 

 

Testing:

Crysis is a new addition to the gaming benchmark suite used 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 Maximus outperformed the P5K3 at the lowest resolution, but it was a dead heat at the higher resolutions.

Testing:

PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new DX10 title that features its 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:

 

 

 

 

 

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:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 U.S. Marine or British S.A.S. 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:

   

 

 

 

 

 

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:

 

 

 

 

 

Testing:

Call of Juarez is a DirectX10 First Person Shooter set in the Wild West of the late 1800's. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Testing between the two boards showed the level of performance by each board to be similar.

Testing:

Company of Heroes is a Real Time Strategy game set during World War II. The object is to occupy and control the ground you capture while forcing the opponents to capitulate. We will use the in-game performance test to measure the performance of the system.

 

The settings used in this test are listed below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 P5K3 falls just short of the Maximus at the higher resolutions.

Conclusion:

Is the onboard memory all that it's cracked up to be? Sure it is! Asus has provided a well thought out package that satisfies the need to overclock. With overclockable DDR3 memory selling for somewhere in the neighborhood of $375 and up, the onboard memory that is guaranteed to overclock sounds like a good idea. In reality, it actually worked quite well. At DDR 800, the onboard was capable of 5-5-5-15 timings with a command rate of 1T. These timings were good until about DDR 1000, after that the timings needed to be relaxed as the memory scaled higher, finally topping out in this instance at DDR 1600, or 800FSB. At this speed the timings were set to 9-7-7-20. Adding voltage or tweaking the timings produced no increase in the FSB I was able to achieve. The maximum overclock on the CPU that was achieveable with my chip was 440FSB, again, voltage and tweaking produced nothing higher. In the end, a good stable overclock of 400x9 on the Q6600 and 800MHz on the memory, was Prime 95 stable for 17 plus hours and has been crunching work units for our folding@home team now for the past week at these settings with no failures.

The feature set that the P5K3 Premium is equipped with will cover probably most, if not all, of the consumers looking for a high-end solution that, in reality, just needs a processor and video card to be ready to use. By choosing to use an all copper solution for the cooling of the heat generating components, Asus has made the cooling of the board components a top priority, even including two blower style fans to mount onto the heatsinks when a non-traditional cooling setup is used (Liquid or Phase cooling). One downside I see with the P5K3 Premium is also one of its strong selling points, the onboard memory. If technology advances and higher performance DDR3 memory is available, there is no way to upgrade the modules by just swapping out the DIMMS. The second downer may well be the price point on the P5K3. Looking online for pricing has several high dollar figures pointed in the close to a thousand dollar range. For a full featured, highly overclockable platform that includes the system memory, it may well be a little much to swallow. If an almost all-in-one, guaranteed to overclock platform is what you are looking for, then this would be it. Performance, feature set, ease of use, it has it all.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: