Asus P5Q Deluxe Review
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: June 18, 2008
It seems with each passing month, new tech is coming fast and furious. A new chipset here, a new video card there, new cooling designs - it's all just coming together into a steady stream of products. It was just a short while ago that the X48 chipset-based boards were released to the public, and now the P45 chipset is the next in line. Well, what I have here and now is a motherboard based on that latest P45 chipset from Intel. The Asus P5Q Deluxe uses the Intel P45 Northbridge and ICH10R Southbridge, and uses Intel's Fast Memory Access technology. Sporting features such as high-end graphics via 3 way CrossFireX with 3 PCI-E x16 slots, energy savings via the new EPU 6 engine, Express Gate for a quick way to the Internet without booting into the OS, and a true 16-phase power design, it seems like the P5Q is loaded with the latest and greatest from Intel and Asus.
Will the Asus P5Q Deluxe meet or exceed the performance bar set by the X48 boards just a few short months ago? Only time will tell if this is, indeed, a worthy successor - or just another one of many boards in the crowd.
Packaging on new motherboards has become quite flashy of late. The front of the package illustrates some of the features of the P5Q, including the EPU-6 Engine, Express Gate, and the FSB capabilities for both the RAM and CPU. The rear panel details the board's specifications, as well as giving more information on the EPU-6 Engine, the Stack Cool design of the motherboard, and the Drive Expert software.
How do you find more space to show the features of the motherboard? With a flip up panel on the front side of the package, of course. Lifting this tab reveals additional information about the features of the board. The 16-phase power design, EPU-6 Engine, Express Gate, the "Q" shield - it's all discussed right here.
Finally opening up the box reveals the typically large bundle of accessories that Asus includes with their motherboards. The P5Q is hidden underneath the accessories.
Checking out the bundle, it looks like Asus though of everything! Let's look at the items that are included.
The accessories that Asus includes with the P5Q Deluxe should be all you need to get started. There are enough SATA cables to fill every port on the board, floppy and IDE cables, Q-Shield, Q-Connectors, a fan for the PWM heatsink, a USB/ FireWire expansion slot bracket, and of course the all important case badge, driver disk, and manual. That's everything!
Asus has made an improvement to the mundane I/O shield. The Q-Shield, as it is called now, does not have all of the usual sharp metal tabs found on other I/O shields that need to be bent out of the way when the motherboard is installed. This helps in two ways - no more sliced fingers, and no more dead shorts when a metal tab contacts the inside of a port, ending your initial joy at starting up the system you just built. In addition to the obvious benefit, the Q-Shield also acts to isolate the board from any electromagnetic interference, as well as providing a better path to ground to protect against static electricity discharges.
The Q-Connectors have proved their worth time and again in my book. Attaching the front panel connections for the lights, Power and Reset switches, and USB and FireWire ports could not be easier. How many times have you struggled with the single-wire connections from the front panel for the USB ports? Putting those wires on the header has always been a nightmare, but no longer is that an issue. All the connection work can be done with the connector and wires outside the case. When you're done, just push the Q-Connector onto the motherboard header instead of using the single-wire method. The small blower fan is used when the CPU is passively cooled (or liquid cooled) to remove heat from the PWM heatsinks.
Eight SATA drive cables, one IDE cable and a floppy drive cable are included to connect the optical and hard drives. In fact, there are enough drive cables to populate every drive connection on the P5Q Deluxe. Two Molex-to-SATA power connectors are included as well, just in case the power supply does not have enough to do the job. Four of the SATA cables have a 90 degree connector for use in close quarters, or to make managing the cables easier.
Last, but certainly not least, is the expansion slot USB/ FireWire bracket. This allows the internal headers to be used when the chassis does not already have the capability to use them.
Let's see what the P5Q Deluxe looks like!
The Asus P5Q Deluxe is an ATX form-factor motherboard, built around the Intel P45 and ICH10R chipsets. This motherboard features support for the latest 45nm multi-core CPUs, Asus' Express Gate, and a true 16-phase power circuit to use with the EPU-6 Engine. All this comes packaged on the specially designed Stack Cool 2 PCB, to effectively reduce the operating temperatures of critical components on the motherboard.
Apparently, Asus has heard the cries from the masses about the mounting of the PWM heatsinks. Rather than use just push-pins to retain the heatsinks, Asus has used a backplate and screws on each of these heatsinks. This reduces board warping, and provides equal contact all the way across the assembly, instead of a little contact at the ends, which could cause temperatures to rise and affect the overclocking potential of the board.
The I/O panel features many of the connectivity options that we all know so well - six USB 2.0 ports, two Gigabit LAN ports, 8-channel High Definition sound, coaxial and optical S/PDIF ports, an E-SATA port, 1394 FireWire connectivity, and last, but not least, a dual-purpose PS/2 port. Missing from this equation is a clear CMOS switch. The connectivity should be everything you need to get started, and then some.
Expansion capabilities include two PCI-E x1 slots, two PCI slots, and three PCI-E x16 2.0 slots that support CrossFireX at x8 speeds. The lower PCI-E x16 slot runs at a max of x4. Even though the x16 slots run at x8 in CrossFireX, the PCI-E 2.0 bandwidth is higher, negating any effect the x8 speeds have. Quad CrossFireX is supported! In between the bottom PCI slot and the second PCI-E slot lays the Asus Express Gate SSD. This little assembly is basically a flash drive with a small Linux distribution that allows for quick web access without going into the OS.
Along the bottom of the P5Q Deluxe PCB is where all the front panel connectivity takes place. From left to right, we see the front panel audio, optical drive sound-in, the digital audio above the drive sound-in, 1394 FireWire in red, a serial port connection, and two USB headers for a total of four additional ports and the front panel header. Between the USB and front panel connections are the dual BIOS chips. The Die Hard BIOS uses two chips so that a corrupted BIOS can easily be restored. The on-board Power and Reset switches come in handy when testing on a tech bench - no more screwdriver shuffle to get the motherboard to power up! Last, but not least, is the clear CMOS jumper.
Moving up the right side of the board, you find the IDE, SATA and floppy drive connections. The P5Q Deluxe has six SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports controlled by the ICH10R Southbridge. The two orange SATA ports are for use with the Drive Expert utility, and only function in this capacity as data-only drives.
The P5Q Deluxe support up to 16GB of DDR2 1200/1066/800/667MHz memory in a dual-channel configuration. Are 16 gigs of memory needed now, or by upgrade time in a year? Probably not, but the capability is there for those who choose to use it. Asus uses a "true" 16-phase power design with lower RDS MOSFETs and ferrite chokes to increase power efficiency into the 96% +/- range. Japanese made high-quality conductive polymer capacitors are used as part of the power package. Room looks pretty scarce around the socket, but I had no troubles installing aftermarket heatsinks or water blocks onto the board.
The heat generated by the chipsets and power management circuits has to be managed somehow, and Asus has done this with an interconnected group of heatsinks. The individual heatsinks are connected by a series of heatpipes used to transfer the heat from the chipsets to the heatsink over the PWM circuit. This heat load is then exhausted out the rear of the case.
This little chip here is at the heart of the power saving features of the P5Q Deluxe from Asus. The EPU or Energy Processing Unit works with the EPU-6 software to reduce the power consumption of the system. As energy costs continue to skyrocket, this feature cannot be overlooked. Just how well does it perform? Keep on reading.
Some people never look at their computer's BIOS - they rely on the technicians they take it to for that chore. Those are the folks that walk into the big box store and plunk down their hard-earned cash for a computer with less than stellar performance. Fortunately, that's not the way we do things, so let's take a trip through the BIOS of the P5Q Deluxe.
The Main tab in the American Megatrends BIOS shows some basic information about the system, date and time, and attached storage devices. Under the System Information sub-section the processor type, speed, and amount of system memory can be viewed.
Under the Advanced Tab, we find the settings for Intel's EIST and Virtualization Technology, which can be enabled or disabled. The on-board peripherals, such as the LAN ports, audio codecs and Drive Expert technology can be turned on and off under this sub-section.
This section allows a type of power profile to be set up. In the Hardware Monitoring sub-section, temperatures of the CPU and motherboard can be checked. The voltages available for monitoring include the three rails on the power supply, as well as the CPU Vcore. Fan profiles can be set up with the QFan control; monitoring of the fans can be turned off as well.
Setting the boot priority of the drives installed in the system is done here, and additionally, the configuration of the boot settings. Things such as quick boot, disabling error messages, and disabling the full screen boot logo can be accomplished here.
The Tools tab has a couple of very functional items in it. EZ Flash is a utility that can be used to flash the BIOS. It can be used with a USB flash drive, or you can pull the BIOS file from the hard drive of the computer; not once has this utility failed me. Sorting overclocked profiles makes switching back and forth between maximum performance and everyday performance profiles a breeze - no more guessing if the settings are correct. The Express Gate menu can be turn on or off in this section as well.
The AI Tweaker section holds all of the true performance increasing features, so that section gets a more in depth look.
On most motherboards produced today there's usually a section of the BIOS that is reserved for adjusting performance, via tweaking voltages, skew rates, memory timings for the CPU, memory and board. The AI Tweaker section of this BIOS is reminiscent of the BIOS seen in the ROG (Republic of Gamers) series of boards from ASUS. With that kind of adjustability, getting performance out of this board should be pretty straight forward. A plus I found while working through the BIOS is that values can be manually input, or selected through a menu - which is, in my opinion, much easier. Let's look and see what's available.
The menu items are set to Auto by default. Setting the items to manual will allow performance to be increased from the stock baseline settings. The CPU ratio can be modified based on the available multipliers for your particular CPU. In this case, its' a Q9450 - so x8 is the maximum. The FSB strap setting for the Northbridge can be adjusted to help increase the FSB potential of your overclock, as well as the performance of that overclock. DRAM frequency is based upon the strap setting and FSB speed of the CPU. Skew rates for each DRAM slot are available to help increase memory overclockability.
The memory sub-timings can be left at Auto to let the BIOS choose what is best, or you can take the plunge and manually set the timings for increased performance. There are three memory sub-sections, so finding the best balance between all out performance and stability could take some time. The Memory OC Charger can also be enabled for maximum memory performance. Just make sure your memory can work with the changes this setting makes.
Voltages can be the key to solving the instability of an overclock, but that sword cuts both ways - you can also make your overclock worse by adjusting the wrong voltage or series of voltages. Asus has given us the tools to reach for the stars, and they made sure the lack of overvoltage capability would eliminate issues with this motherboard. Without adjusting the voltage jumper for the CPU voltage, the maximum possible Vcore is 1.70 volts. By moving the jumper to the overvoltage side, the maximum Vcore bumps up to 2.1 volts. Maximum CPU PLL voltage is reached at 2.78 volts. The GTL reference voltages are adjustable up and down, and are shown as a percentage of the FSB VTT voltage. These settings can provide a measure of stability, but dialing them in just right is a time consuming task.
FSB termination voltage is limited to 1.90 volts - plenty to get the job done. In most cases, this voltage can help increase the FSB potential of the installed CPU, but adjusting the GTL reference voltages can allow this voltage to be set much lower. DRAM voltage is available to 3.08 volts - definitely the death zone for DDR2 memory. But, if you can get one run and validate it, you may just get yourself a new world record.
The rest of the voltages can be adjusted to meet the various needs of each individual system. The Northbridge voltage is capped the same way the CPU voltage is. By moving the jumper to the overvoltage pins, 2.06 volts to the P45 chipset is possible. Northbridge GTL voltages are trial and error for each individual chipset, what works for one may not work for all.
Now, let's see what kind of performance the P5Q Deluxe can generate.
By inserting the driver and program disk, you are started on the path of getting the system operating as it is intended. After the Autorun menu pops up, you are presented with the installation GUI. This GUI has five separate tabs. The first is drivers - under this tab, you will install all of the drivers needed for the system. The second tab is utilities - under this section, all of the included monitoring and overclocking programs can be installed. Tools such as Asus Probe II, Asus Update, the AI Suite, and the Express Gate updating software are located here.
The Make Disk tab allows for the creation of a driver disk to use when setting up a RAID array. The Manual tab contains additional information about the Intel Matrix storage capabilities, as well as an installation guide for the P5Q Deluxe. The contact page is just that - the contact numbers for Asus are listed so that contact can be made across the globe.
The AI Suite utility contains many functions and additional utilities in an all in one wrapper. From the ability to control fan speeds with the Fan Xpert, to the ability to do some Overclocking with the AI Booster, you get a lot of functionality here - and all from within the Windows environment. The EPU-6 Engine is part of this application, and will be looked at later in this review.
Asus Update is a tool that is used within Windows to update the BIOS - a handy utility for the uninitiated into the dark arts of flashing the BIOS. The Express Gate Updater allows the Express Gate program to be updated. The Sound Max software allows for the fine tuning of the HD sound experience - there are enough features here to get the job done. Asus PC Probe II monitors some of the more critical voltages and temperatures.
The Express Gate software is a small Linux distribution that is included on the Express Gate module on the P5Q Deluxe. This small program packs a ton of functionality into one little app - web surfing, managing your photos, using an IM client, and using Skype to talk to your friends are all things you can do from within the environment. After the initial setup dialog, you are off and running - getting to the web was no problem at all, and the LAN ports were already configured so that no setup was needed.
As I said, getting to the web is not all you can do now that Asus has expanded the capabilities of the Express Gate application. The IM client is Pidgin, and requires an account to be set up as well as one with Skype. The photo manager is there for use as well; it will pull the information directly from the hard drive, as though it was just a storage drive. All in all, the Express Gate set of applications can be a big help to the enthusiast that hoses up the OS install, and needs a set of drivers or a program to complete a repair. No Windows OS needed!
After looking through the BIOS and seeing the included applications, I am anxious to see how well the P5Q Deluxe performs.
LGA775 socket for Intel® Core™2 Extreme/Core™2 Quad/Core™2 Duo/Pentium® dual-core/Celeron® dual-core/Celeron® Processors
Intel P45/ICH10R with Intel® Fast Memory Access(FMA) support.
Front Side Bus
4 x DIMM, max. 16GB, DDR2 1200/1066/800/667MHz, non-ECC, un-buffered memory
2 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots, support ATI CrossFireX™ technology at x8 link
Support ATI CrossFireX™ technology, up to Quad CrossFireX
Dual Gigabit LAN controllers
ADI® AD2000B 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC
LSI®L-FW3227 controller supports 2 x IEEE 1394a ports(one at mid-board; one at back panel)
Max. 10 USB2.0/1.1 ports(4 ports at mid-board, 6 ports at back panel)
ASUS AI Lifestyle Features
ASUS Exclusive Features:
ASUS AI Booster
ASUS MyLogo 3
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse combo port
Internal I/O Connectors
2 x USB connectors support additional 4 USB ports
16MB AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.4
WOL by PME, WOR by PME, WOR by Ring, Chasis Intrusion, PXE
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
ASUS PC Probe II
ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.4cm)
CPU, Chipset and Graphics features
- LGA775 Intel® Core™2 Processor Ready: This motherboard supports the latest Intel® Core™2 processors in LGA775 package. It also can support Intel® 45nm Multi-Core CPU. With new Intel® Core™ microarchitecture technology and 1600/1333/1066/800MHz FSB, Intel® Core™2 processor is one of the most powerful and energy efficient CPU in the world.
- PCIe 2.0: Double Speed; Double Bandwidth:This motherboard supports the latest PCIe 2.0 devices for double speed and bandwidth which enhances system performance.
- ATI CrossFireX Technology:ATI´s CrossFireX boosts image quality along with rendering speed, eliminating the need to scale down screen resolutions to get the high image quality you want. CrossFire ignites with the higher antialiasing, anisotropic filtering, shading, and texture settings you desire. Adjust your display configurations, experiment with your advanced 3D settings, and check the effect with a real-time 3D-rendered preview within ATI´s Catalyst™ Control Center to rule your CrossFireX system.
- Dual-Channel DDR2 1200: The motherboard supports DDR2 memory that features data transfer rates of 1200/1066/800/667 MHz to meet the higher bandwidth requirements of the latest operation system, 3D graphics, multimedia, and Internet applications. The dual-channel DDR2 architecture doubles the bandwidth of your system memory to boost system performance, eliminating bottlenecks with peak bandwidths of up to 19.2GB/s.
ASUS Exclusive Features
- ASUS True 16-Phase Power Design:Unprecedented Innovation with the best quality component for best performance The breakthrough technology of 16-phase VRM design is bringing to the ASUS motherboards. 16-phase power design can reach the power efficiency up to 96%+, and dispel heat generated by VRM module effectively, and lower more temperature compared to other VRM solution. With the high quality power components such as low RDS (on) MOSFETs, Ferrite core chokes with lower hysteresis loss and 100% Japan-made high quality conductive polymer capacitors, ASUS 16-phase VRM design also ensure longer component life, minimum power loss, and help to reach the superior overclocking score ever than before.
- Best Quality Power Components: 100% High-quality Japan-made Conductive Polymer Capacitors!(5000 hrs VRM) Low RDS (on) MOSFETs with min. switching loss & lower temperature, Ferrite Core chokes with lower hysteresis loss, and 100% Japan-made high quality, long life conductive polymer capacitors.
- ASUS EPU-6 Engine: System Level Energy Saving The new ASUS EPU - the world´s first power saving engine, has been upgraded to a new 6 engine version, which provides total system power savings by detecting current PC loadings and intelligently moderating power in real-time. With auto phase switching for components (which includes the CPU, VGA card, memory, chipset, hard drives and CPU cooler/system fans), the EPU automatically provides the most appropriate power usage via intelligent acceleration and overclocking - helping save power and money.
- ASUS Express Gate SSD: 5 Secs Bootup to online Taking only 5 seconds to go online from bootup, Express Gate is the one-stop gateway to instant fun! It´s a unique motherboard built-in OS. You can utilize the most popular Instant Messengers (IM) like MSN, Skype, Google talk, QQ, and Yahoo! Messenger to keep in touch with friends, or quickly check on the weather and e-mails just before leaving your house. What´s more, the user-friendly picture manager lets you view your pictures without entering Windows at anytime!
* The actual boot time is subject to hardware configurations and product models.
- ASUS Drive Xpert: Plug & Safe! Without drivers or BIOS setups, the ASUS exclusive Drive Xpert is ideal for anyone who needs to secure data on their hard drives or enhance hard drive performances without the hassles of complicated configurations. With Drive Xpert´s user-friendly graphical user interface, users can easily arrange hard drive backups or enhance their hard drive transfer rates - making sure that data is looked after every moment, every day.
ASUS Power Saving Solution
- AI Nap: Minimize noise and power consumption when temporarily away! With AI Nap, users can instantly snooze your PC without terminating the tasks. System will continue operating at minimum power and noise when user is temporarily away. It keeps downloading files or running applications in quietest state while you´re sleeping. Simply click keyboard or mouse, you can swiftly wake up the system in few seconds.
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution
- Up to 20°C(36°F) Cooler - Stack Cool 2: Effective Fanless Heat Dissipation at 0dB Stack Cool 2 is a fanless cooling solution offered exclusively by ASUS. It effectively and noiselessly transfers heat generated by the critical components to the other side of the specially designed PCB (printed circuit board) for effective heat dissipation - making temperatures cooler by up to 20°C.
- Aesthetic Heat-pipe: Lowers Temperatures by up to 10°C The aesthetic heat-pipe design effectively directs the heat generated by the chipsets to the heatsink near the back I/O ports - where it can be carried away by existing airflows from the CPU or a bundled optional fan. This innovative and groundbreaking fanless heat pipe design effectively lowers temperatures by up to 10°C without having lifetime problems that a normal chipset fan has. Furthermore, it provides options for users to install side-flow fans or a passive cooler. This Heat Pipe design is the most reliable fanless thermal solution to date.
- Fan Xpert: Active Quiet & Cool ASUS Fan Xpert intelligently allows users to adjust both the CPU and chassis fan speed according to different ambient temperature , which is caused by different climate conditions in different geographic regions and system loading.Built-in variety of useful profiles offer flexible controls of fan speed to achieve a quiet and cool environment.
ASUS EZ DIY
- DieHard BIOS: BIOS Never Die The ASUS Diehard BIOS consists of two BIOS chips, a main BIOS and a backup BIOS. The ASUS Diehard BIOS can restore corrupted main BIOS data from the backup BIOS automatically. The technology saves users the hassle of recovering the BIOS file or buying a replacement BIOS chip.
- Q-Shield: Easy and Comfortable Installations The specially designed ASUS Q-Shield does without the usual "fingers" - making it convenient and easy to install. With better electric conductivity, it ideally protects your motherboard against static electricity and shields it against Electronic Magnetic Interference (EMI).
- Q-Connector: Make connection quick and accurate! The ASUS Q-Connector allows you to connect or disconnect chassis front panel cables in one easy step with one complete module. This unique adapter eliminates the trouble of plugging in one cable at a time, making connection quick and accurate.
- EZ-Flash 2: Simply update BIOS from a USB flash disk before entering the OS EZ Flash 2 is a user-friendly BIOS update utility. Simply launch this tool and update BIOS from a USB flash disk before entering the OS. You can update your BIOS only in a few clicks without preparing an additional floppy diskette or using an OS-based flash utility.
- O.C. Profile: Conveniently store or load multiple BIOS settings Freely share and distribute favorite overclocking settings The motherboard features the ASUS O.C. Profile that allows users to conveniently store or load multiple BIOS settings. The BIOS settings can be stored in the CMOS or a separate file, giving users freedom to share and distribute their favorite overclocking settings.
- TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) system, which can securely store keys( for encryption/ decryption), digital certificates, passwords, and data. A TPM system also helps enhance network security, protects digital identities, and ensures platform integrity.
*The TPM module is purchased separately
- Onboard Switch: No more shorting pins or moving jumpers! With an easy press during overclock, this exclusive onboard switch allows gamer to effortlessly fine-tune the performance without having to short the pins or moving jumpers!
ASUS Crystal Sound
- AI Audio 2: Unique Home Theater Technology on Board AI Audio 2 creates a virtual center channel that expands the overall sound field without introducing a picket fencing effect. Preserving the dialogue or solo performances with downmixing from multichannels will allow you to experience true-to-life high quality audio.
- Noise Filtering: Eliminate background noise while recording This feature detects repetitive and stationary noises like computer fans, air conditioners, and other background noises then eliminates it in the incoming audio stream while recording.
Other Innovative Features
- MyLogo3: Personalize your system with customizable boot logo You can convert your favorite photo into a 256-color boot logo for a more colorful and vivid image on your screen. Industry Standard
- SATA on the Go: The motherboard supports the next-generation hard drives based on the Serial ATA (SATA) 3Gb/s storage specification, delivering enhanced scalability and doubling the bus bandwidth for high-speed data retrieval and saves. The external SATA port located at the back I/O provides smart setup and hot-plug functions. Easily backup photos, videos and other entertainment contents on external devices.
- Dual Gigabit LAN: The integrated dual Gigabit LAN design allows a PC to serve as a network gateway for managing traffic between two separate networks. This capability ensures rapid transfer of data from WAN to LAN without any added arbitration or latency.
- IEEE 1394a interface: IEEE 1394a interface provides high speed digital interface for audio/video appliances such as digital television, digital video camcorders, storage peripherals & other PC portable devices.
- High Definition Audio: Enjoy high-end sound system on your PC! The onboard 8-channel HD audio (High Definition Audio, previously codenamed Azalia) CODEC enables high-quality 192KHz/24-bit audio output, jack-sensing feature, retasking functions and multi-streaming technology that simultaneously sends different audio streams to different destinations. You can now talk to your partners on the headphone while playing a multi-channel network games. All of these are done on one computer.
- S/PDIF-out on Back I/O Port: This motherboard provides convenient connectivity to external home theater audio systems via coaxial and optical S/PDIF-out (SONY-PHILIPS Digital Interface) jacks. It allows to transfer digital audio without converting to analog format and keeps the best signal quality.
- GreenASUS: The motherboard and its packaging comply with the European Union´s Restriction on the use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS). This is in line with the ASUS vision of creating environment-friendly and recyclable products and packaging to safeguard consumers´ health while minimizing the impact on the environment.
- The product (electrical , electronic equipment, Mercury-containing button cell battery) should not be placed in municipal waste. Check local regulations for disposal of electronic products.
- All specifications are subject to change without notice. Please check with your supplier for exact offers. Products may not be available in all markets.
- PCB color and bundled software versions are subject to change without notice.
- Brand and product names mentioned are trademarks of their respective companies
All information on this page courtesy of Asus @ http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?modelmenu=1&model=2257&l1=3&l2=11&l3=709&l4=0
The Asus P5Q Deluxe will be put through our benchmarking suite to see what kind of performance the motherboard delivers. The OverclockersClub series of benchmarks includes both system tests and gaming benchmarks to verify the performance of this product. Testing will include a direct comparison of several processors, including stock speed benchmarking. CPU clock speed will be kept at the manufacturer's specified clock speed and multiplier for the baseline testing. All motherboard and video card settings were left at setup defaults, again to eliminate any variables. The overclocking phase of the testing will be accomplished by using all of the available settings on the motherboard to gain the maximum performance from this, the latest Intel chipset-based board from Asus.
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad 9450 333 x 8
- Motherboard: Asus P5Q Deluxe
- Memory: Mushkin Redline XP2 8000 2 x 2 GB 5-5-5-12
- Video Card(s): Asus EN8800GT TOP
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800watt Modular Power supply
- Hard Drive: Seagate 1TB SATA
- Optical Drive: LG DVD-RW
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad 9450 474 x 8 3792 MHz
- System Memory: Mushkin Redline XP2 8000 2 x 2 GB 5-5-5-12
Overclocking on the P5Q Deluxe could not have been easier. Leave all of the voltages alone except for the CPU Vcore and the voltage for the memory, and you can go quite far. In fact, I went right to the limits of my CPU - and beyond. The P5Q allowed me to boot the computer through 500FSB and on into MemTest 2.0, where, sadly, it could not make a complete pass. But by dropping 5 FSB, I was able to get into Windows at 495x8 with my Q9450, but stability was nowhere to be found with the Q9450 at this level - voltages, GTL ref settings, VTT, PLL, nothing seemed to help. Dropping the FSB to 480 was benchmark stable, but not much else. At this point, all of the voltages were tweaked as well as the GTL reference voltages. These allowed me to finally gain stability at 474FSB. While only 4 FSB faster than the previous best on this CPU, it's still faster. Stability means different things to different people - some are fine with SuperPi stable, but in the non-benchmark record setting world, 24 hour stability is a must. Seeing how the P5Q responded without all the massive voltages needed on previous chipsets told me there is some honest potential for overclocking on the P5Q Deluxe.
- Scientific & Data:
- SPECviewperf 10
- PCMark Vantage Professional
- SiSoft Sandra XII
- ScienceMark 2.02 Final
- CineBench 10
- HD Tune 2.55
- Knights of the Sea
- Call of Duty 4
- World in Conflict
- Call of Juarez
- Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
- 3DMark 06 Professional
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:
- Resolution: 2750x2048
- Quality: 500
- Limit Memory use: 512MB
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.
The P5Q was beaten in just about all of the tests. In Apophysis, the P5Q was 2 minutes slower rendering the fractal flame image. In the WinRAR testing, as the file size grew larger, the time differential increased. In the ZIP part of the testing, the 100MB file was compressed 1 second faster.
SPECviewperf 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.
At stock performance levels, the X48-based board is outperforming the P45-based P5Q Deluxe. The Vantage testing also was not kind to the P5Q.
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.
Cache and Memory
Power Management Efficiency
Finally the P5Q is showing some promise. If not outright outperforming the X48 board, it is tied or a close second.
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
Through this series of benchmarks, the P45 based P5Q again struggles to perform better than the X48-based design. In 13 out of 35 tests run, the P45-based P5Q Deluxe equaled or performed better than the X48-based offering. In many of the benchmarks though, the scores were close enough to where the real world "feel" would not be noticed.
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 on 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.
- Anti-Aliasing: x2
- Advanced settings to Medium
Still pulling up the rear, the P5Q finally gathers steam by the 1920 x 1200 resolution. The margin of victory is two frames per second, which is significant at this resolution in this game.
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:
- AA: x0
- Image Quality: High
- Direct X Version: 10
- All resolutions: 60Hz
In Knights of the Sea, the P5Q takes 3 out of 4 tests.
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.
- All settings to Maximum
- V-Sync: Off
In this benchmark, the P5Q is outperfoming the X48 board through all four resolutions. A welcome change.
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:
- Anti-Aliasing: x4
- Anisotropic Filtering : Max
- Texture Quality: Extra
- All settings Max
The performance in COD 4 is still lower than that of the X48 comparison board.
World in Conflict is a newly released DX10 Real Time Strategy game that simulates 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:
- Anti-Aliasing: x0
- Anisotropic Filtering: x16
- Graphic Detail: Very High
In World in Conflict, the P5Q takes three out of four resolutions.
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 in both single player and multiplayer modes. 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.
- Details: High
- Shadowmap size 2048x2048
- Shadow Quality: Normal
- Anti-Aliasing: MSAA x4
The performance of the P5Q is equal to the X48 through the first 3 resolutions, and finally pulls ahead at the 1920x1200 mark by 5 frames per second - a substantial margin.
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.
- Anti-Aliasing: x8
- All other settings to Maximum
Company of Heros is taken by the P5Q across all four resolutions. The maximum performance differential was 3 frames per second.
3DMark06 is one of those benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest breaks out. 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.
- SM2.0 Graphics Tests: GT1- Return to Proxycon, GT2- Firefly Forest
- CPU Tests: Cpu1- Red Valley, CPU2- Red Valley
- HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Tests: HDR1- Canyon Flight, HDR2- Deep Freeze
The P5Q Deluxe outperforms the X48-based board in all four resolutions. The performance difference increases as the resolution rises. At 1024x768, the difference is only 45 marks but moves to 133 by the time 1920x1200 is reached. In the gaming benchmarks, the P45-based P5Q Deluxe had a better showing than in the scientific benchmarks, taking 20 out of 32 tests run. If the tests where its performance is equal to the X48-based board are tallied, the total rises to 23 out of 32 tests.
"Going Green" is a catchy little phrase. It could mean you are going to be testing the luck O' the Irish, or it could mean that you are energy conscious. With energy costs spiraling upwards with no realistic end in sight, energy consumption becomes a real concern when it comes to the computers we use and abuse on a daily basis. To combat this energy abuse, Asus has improved the EPU and brought forth the EPU-6 Engine to help fight this battle with rising energy costs. Can it help reduce the energy consumption of a system? And not just at idle, but while running fully loaded? We shall see.
Labeled as the "Complete System Power Saving Solution", the EPU-6 Engine has been improved and features a new interface, as well as more adjustments to help save on energy costs, as well as CO2 emissions. Left to right, there are five different modes of operation. Auto chooses the best solution at the time, Turbo is the maximum power setting, High-Performance is similar in this regard, Medium power saving is a compromise between the High-Performance and Maximum power saving mode, and of course that leaves only Maximum power saving mode. Each mode is adjustable to provide the best fit for your system and power profile. One thing though - you have to be running the system in a bone-stock configuration to use the EPU-6 Engine.
So just how well does the EPU-6 Engine actually work? To test the Engine out, I let the computer idle in the Max power saving mode, as well as the High-Performance mode and gathered the data from the testing as given by the Engine's monitoring software. Then I switched to load testing to see if the power consumption numbers dropped with the Engine enabled and disabled to see what the difference, if any, there was. In the idle testing, the difference in performance was about 2 watts. 7.05 watts was measured when in High-Performance mode, with a 5.02 watt measurement in the Max power saving mode.
Now, under load will I see any difference? You bet I did. About a 10 watt difference when the processor was under load. This equates to about a 30% power usage decrease under load - a pretty substantial drop.
Just believing what a software program says is not a thorough test of the Engine. Using a Kill-a-watt meter to measure the current coming from the wall is a good check to verify any savings.
Lower Is Better
At idle, the power consumption difference was measured at 8 watts. Under load, the difference is more substantial at 29 watts. So in this test, the EPU does what it is intended to do and reduces power consumption on the system as a whole.
The performance in the scientific benchmarks showed that the P45 chipset has some room to grow, exceeding the performance of the X48-based board in this comparison in just 13 out of 35 tests. In the video testing, the P45-based P5Q Deluxe showed some potential, and either beat the X48-based board or tied its performance in 23 out of 32 tests run. The flip-side to this comparison is that while it was beaten in many of the scientific benchmarks, the differential in the scores would not be "felt" in the real world. How many people will feel differences this small? Not many, if any at all. Since this chipset is new, the initial offerings will need the few odd BIOS updates to get things just right. The early revision of the BIOS that shipped with the P5Q Deluxe was the 0204 release. I had some "no boot" issues when the voltages were set manually with this BIOS. The 0506 BIOS cured this problem enough to enable my trusty Q9450 to reach stability at 474MHz x 8.
This just happens to be the highest stable overclock I have gotten to date with this particular CPU. While only 4 MHz faster, I was able to boot this chip at up to 500 FSB. Only time and ironing out the motherboard further could make this a reality. The overclocked performance scaled nicely as the clock speeds were increased, making one fast combo. Overclocking really could not be easier with the P5Q Deluxe. Basically set the timings, adjust the Vcore and memory voltage to what they need, and overclock away. The potential is there if you spend the time to go after it. The BIOS and performance can only get better from here, and as this platform matures, I expect to see big things from it.
The Green features of the P5Q Deluxe make energy savings a reality. The system used less energy when the EPU-6 Engine's settings were set to provide maximum savings. While under load, running the [email protected] SMP client and playing Bioshock, I had no performance issues or lockups caused by a lack of power. The savings generated by the EPU and the EPU-6 Engine are determined by the way you allow the system to work. In the energy conscious world we live in, each little bit of energy savings puts those dollars back into our pockets. We buy new energy efficient appliances for our homes, why not do the same for the toys as well? The Asus P5Q Deluxe has plenty of features, and has performance that will only get better. With an attractive price tag of around $200, the price to performance ratio is much better than some of the $400+ boards on the market right now. With this board you can't go wrong.
- Ease of overclocking
- Gaming performance
- Power savings
- Express Gate
- Early BIOS was not OC friendly