Asus P6T Reviewccokeman -
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Just because you have all the pretty parts installed and the operating system installed, you cannot expect to have everything work as it should or get the performance you expect from the combination of parts without the drivers or instructions that make the hardware work properly. Just try playing a demanding video game without the video card drivers! You will quickly see the reasoning behind installing the drivers to get the most from your parts. The first thing after the OS is installed would be to pop the driver disc into any optical drive in the system and allow the autorun window to pop up. Once this happens, choose to run the application and you are welcomed with the driver installation GUI. There are five tabs available with each one offering something different. The first tab is the driver installation tab followed by the utilities tab. These two will be the ones used by the vast majority of users. Asus makes the installation of the drivers a one step process with the "Install All" option. When you choose this option, choose the appropriate drivers for your install and press go. The system will reboot after several of the installations but the process is pretty seamless and less labor intensive than the choose/wait/reboot of the past.
The Utilities tab follows the same priciple with the Install All option. Again, choose all of the items you want to install and walk away for a few minutes and grab a drink. Then you should be just about done depending on the number of programs installed. The list on the P6T is pretty expansive so it can take a while.
The remaining tabs are going to be a little less useful. There is the Make Disk tab, which allows you to make a driver disk for installing Windows onto a RAID setup. The Manual tab is just that, a place where you can get the manual if you lose the one supplied with the P6T. Last is the Contact page that provides contact numbers for Asus around the world.
As part of the utilities package Asus has included the usual monitoring, BIOS update and performance enhancing programs to provide an all in one solution for the majority of people. Asus Update allows you to update the BIOS from within the Windows environment. Not the recommended way to update the BIOS but it did work for me. Asus Probe II is a proprietary monitoring application that will display temperatures, voltages and fan speeds. Much like on the P6T Deluxe the monitoring options are a bit on the slim side. The CPU voltage and temperature are at least included but more options would be better.
The AISuite contains all of the energy saving and overclocking applications that the P6T Deluxe has the capability of using. First up is the Fan Expert. In this application you can set up fan profiles and individually tailor them to your needs. Turbo V is the Overclocking/Voltage adjustment tool. This tool offers up the ability to increase the voltages and the baseclock frequency from within the Windows environment. It's a great little tool to play with and test the system's limits. You have many of the pertinent voltages as well as the baseclock frequency and clock multiplier available to use.
The EPU6 engine is an energy saving system on the P6T Deluxe motherboard that combines software and hardware to make real changes to limit your energy consumption when full system power is not needed. During my testing I saw real savings when the maximum power savings mode was enabled. Almost 30 watts under load on the CPU alone. That's real savings when the economy is down and every penny counts. The EPU6 software is configurable so that you are not hemmed in to preset combinations and can modify each of the presets to your liking or power profile.
Asus includes another handy little bit of hardware on the P6T. Some of you may have seen it and others have not, but Expressgate is a tool that allows access to the internet, your pictures, a voice over IP program and some online games without booting into your main OS. The application is accessed as soon as the motherboard boots and features a small Linux distribution that literally is the OS on a flash drive. This tool helps you out when you need access to the internet but do not want to spend the time waiting for the primary OS to install or boot before you can get online. Five seconds to boot is a little ambitious but it is much faster than going all the way into the OS if you need to get online quickly. Even so, in case you get held online, you can access the included IM client and Skype if you need to hear someone's voice, besides the ones in your head!
The software utilities that Asus offers with the P6T range from Internet security products to photo editing and archiving software from Corel and media burning and backup software from Ulead to give the end user some added value.
Enough about the board and what it looks like and comes with. I want to see what it has to offer in terms of performance and overclocking ability. Will the P6T offer up more in terms of overclocking ability than the Deluxe OC Edition?