Asus P6T Review

ccokeman - 2009-01-17 14:25:46 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: March 10, 2009
Price: $249

Introduction:

The Intel Core I7/X58 platform has been out for just over four months now and there have been a fair number of reviews written on the platform, the architecture and the performance that the platform delivers. Many of the reviews that were seen right off the bat were for the high performance, fully featured models that commanded a large price premium to get in the door so you could start enjoying the Core I7 and X58 platform. The P6T Deluxe OC Edition is the top model in the P6 series from Asus. Performance testing shows that the Core I7 did not realize huge gains in gaming performance but where it does shine is when it comes time to do real work. Crunching numbers and applications where multiple cores and threads could be utilized really showed the performance gains. So what makes this motherboard different from the Deluxe model, you ask? One thing would be the smaller cooling solution for the X58 chipset, the reduction in the number of power phases from 16+2 to an 8+2 design, and the lack of the OC Palm tool. Without looking at the board, there are not a lot differences in the specifications and features between the two boards.

So where does the Asus P6T fall on the performance and feature ladder? Will the reduction in power circuits and much smaller cooling solution impact how well this board overclocks? Theoretically it should but theories are just that, a best guess. Even with the differences, the P6T Deluxe OC and P6T share many similarities. There is the support for up to 24GB of DDR3 memory in a tri channel configuration with support for XMP profiles, support for CrossfireX as well as the plethora of software monitoring and overclocking tools included with the P6T. Will this board prove to be a viable option for those looking to spend a bit less money on I7 performance?

Closer Look:

The packaging of the P6T caries a little more flash than the P6T Deluxe OC edition did with the bright metallic blue coloring. The front panel highlights some of the many features this board brings to the table, including three way SLI support, Quad CrossfireX support, Drive Expert technology, 8+2 phase power design and more. The rear panel lists even more of the features and technologies and highlights the TurboV overclocking application and the Drive Expert technology. The front panel lifts up to deliver even more features. By listing all of this front and center, the buyer can make a more informed decision if shopping at a brick and mortar location.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulling open the package you can get a glimpse of the bundle of accessories with the motherboard hidden underneath the cardboard divider.

 

With the P6T Deluxe OC Edition performing as well as it did, I can't wait to see how the little brother compares. Will it outshine the P6T Deluxe or perform as its price point suggests? Both questions to be answered.

 

Closer Look:

Asus has been known to put together a pretty substantial bundle of accessories with its boards. More so with the Deluxe versions than with the plain Jane models. The included bundle is not really large but it does include everything you need to get the board installed and functional. The documentation includes the driver disc and users' manual.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thing many video cards do not come with is the multi GPU bridge connector. Some do, some don't, but Asus has taken care of that problem by including connectors for nVidia's standard and Tri SLI GPU solutions. The multi GPU capabilities of the P6T include nVidia's Tri SLI and AMD's Crossfire and QuadfireX configurations. One of the neatest parts that Asus started including was the Q-Connectors. These connectors allow you to hook up the front panel connectors to a single plug and then connect this plug to the motherboard. This means no more squinting trying to get the front panel connectors on the board and in the correct order to ensure functionality. How many of you have hooked up the USB connection wrong in the past or had the small single wires pull off when you are trying to get the next wire installed? It's now a thing of the past.

 

 

The I/O panel, or Q-Shield as Asus calls it, is designed to decrease any electromagnetic interference out of or into the chassis through this area. It is also designed to make sure that any static electrical charges do not reach the motherboard and cause a failure. Instead of the usual knockouts that leave rough edges and tabs that get hung in the I/O connectors, the Q-Shield has a foam backing and smooth holes to prevent any injuries or short circuits. It's not as ornately labeled as the one with the P6T Deluxe but that really does not matter.

 

 

The drive cables that are included are an Ultra DMA cable and four SATA cables. Two of the SATA cables have 90 degree ends for use when needed. There is not a lot here but this will get you connected.

 

 

Let's see what the P6T has to offer.

 

Closer Look:

The Asus P6T is an ATX form factor motherboard designed for use with Intel's LGA 1366 Core I7 processors, including the 965EE. It is designed around the Intel X58/ICH10R chipset combination. Featuring six memory slots, the P6T supports the installation of up to 24GB of DDR3 2000 (O.C.)*/1866 (O.C.)*/1800 (O.C.)*/1600 (O.C.)/1333/1066 memory in a Triple Channel configuration. The cooling capabilities do not look to be as robust as those used on the P6T Deluxe OC Edition but both boards use Asus' tried and true Stack Cool 2 motherboard design to get rid of unwanted heat generated by the motherboard components by using the PCB as another passive heatsink. The heatsinks used on the board are only interconnected between the X58 chipset and the power circuit by the I/O panel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The I/O panel offers plenty of connectivity. One difference between the Deluxe version and the standard P6T is that the P6T Deluxe features a single multi use PS/2 port while the P6T has two ports, one for use with a mouse and one for a keyboard. There are a total of six USB 2.0 ports available on the I/O panel with more available on board. Additional connectivity includes two S/PDIF ports, one optical and one coaxial, a single eSATA port, a single IEEE 1394a Firewire port, a single RJ-45 LAN port and the eight channel surround sound ports. Expansion capabilities come in the form of three x16 PCI-E 2.0 slots that run at 16x x 16x x 4x when running video cards in a TRI SLI configuration. The X58 chipset allows for graphics solutions that include Tri SLI and QuadfireX for the maximum graphics potential. Additionally, there are two PCI slots and a single PCI-E x1 slot.

 

 

The connectivity for the front panel and expansion brackets are located across the bottom of the P6T. From left to right we have the front panel sound, optical drive sound connection, the floppy drive connection, IEEE 1394a port that brings the total for the P6T to two, three USB 2.0 ports that bring the total on board to twelve, a chassis fan connector and the front panel connection. Visible just behind the left hand USB port are the overvoltage jumpers that allow you to the option of running higher voltages than normally available.

 

 

Most of the storage drive connectivity is on the right hand side of the board with the exception of the floppy drive connection on the bottom side of the board. The PATA port is JMicron controlled as well as the two orange SATA Drive Expert ports each with their own controller. The six red SATA 3.0GBs ports are controlled via the ICH10R southbridge. Moving further up, there is the 24-pin ATX power connection that supplies the majority of the power to the P6T. Asus has added on board power and reset buttons for those that choose to run with a tech station or just really don't use the front panel connections. The six DDR3 memory slots support up to 24GB of system memory in speeds of up to DDR3 2000MHz.

 

 

The area around the LGA 1366 socket is really not too cramped on this version of the P6T. The 8+2 phase power design means there are fewer components in this area. Asus uses low RDS(on) MOSFETs, ferrite core chokes and solid Japanese made capacitors to make sure the power gets to the components as clean and efficiently as possible. There are a total of eight chokes around the socket with two more by the memory. One thing to notice is that Asus has included mounting holes for both LGA 775 and LGA 1366 heatsinks. This way you dont need to spend the additional money on a new heatsink, bracket or water block, something users of the popular D-Tek CPU water blocks will appreciate.

 

 

In addition to the Stack Cool 2 PCB, the cooling solution on the P6T is a little less robust than that seen on the P6T Deluxe. The P6T features a single heatpipe interconnecting the sinks on the X58 chipset and the power regulation circuits for the CPU. The ICH10R southbridge uses a standalone heatsink with another standalone sink above the CPU socket. Less robust may prove to be a problem but we will see as the heat generated under load by the X58 chipset was pretty substantial on the P6T Deluxe.

 

 

Let's get the P6T installed and see how it compares to some of the other offerings in the marketplace.

 

Closer Look:

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?

Closer Look:

The BIOS used by Asus on the P6T is by American Megatrends and is indicative of many of its latest releases in the structure used. The latest BIOS revision at the time of this review is version 0403, the fourth revision since the board was introduced. That just shows that Asus is willing to meet the needs of the enthusiast community and be receptive to fixing small issues. The BIOS navigation is just like riding a bike after a long layoff. The structure is familiar and soon I found all of the items I was looking for. Continuity from one series to another is great. The BIOS is for all intents and purposes is identical to that of the P6T Deluxe OC.

 

Main:

There is not much contained on this page besides useful information such as the date and time, a list of the recognized optical and hard drives, along with their configurations. Under system configuration there is a brief snapshot of the system components.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A.I.Tweaker:

This section is where the enthusiast can have some fun and maximize the system performance. This section is looked at in greater detail a little later.

 

 

Advanced:

This section is where the advanced CPU parameters can be adjusted. Things such as the Intel Hyperthreading technology, CPU Ratio setting, Virtualization and more. Additionally, the on-board devices can be enabled or disabled based on the hardware configuration you choose to use. Configuring the USB ports LAN connections and more can be accomplished under this section.

 

 

 

Power:

The Power section allows for setting up the Advanced Power Management features. The Hardware monitor section shows the temperatures and voltages the P6T Deluxe is capable of displaying. Here is where you can customize the fan speeds or disable the automatic contol and manually set the fan speeds.

 

 

Boot:

The Boot settings are for changing the Boot drive priority as well as configuring items concerning the boot process such as the full screen logo and interrupt messages.

 

 

Tools:

This section contains one of the best tools on the board, the EZ Flash utility for flashing the BIOS. Asus has been incorporating this into its motherboards for a while now and it is a simple to use utility that works every time. No longer is flashing a BIOS a dark art left for the guy at the computer shop with the tape on his glasses. You can enable or disable the Expressgate feature as well as configure the timeout when it goes into the OS. You can save your overclocked profiles in the Asus OC Profile section. This enables you to save your "Good" settings while you try some less stable, more aggressive settings. A.I. Net2 enables checking of the LAN cables during the POST sequence.

 

 

Now let's dig a little deeper into the A.I.Tweaker section to see if the BIOS offers the same tools for overclocking seen on the Deluxe version of this board!

 

Closer Look:

A.I.Tweaker:

The AI Tweaker section of the BIOS is where you make the magic happen. In this section you can adjust the voltages, memory speeds and subtimings, skew levels and more to get the most from the hardware installed in the P6T Deluxe. The first thought with this BIOS is that I thought I had a DFI motherboard; those who are familiar will understand that comment, for the rest, DFI offered a level of tweakability that not many, if any, manufacturers choose to show in the BIOS. This is a back handed compliment I guess. But the BIOS has plenty of adjustment ability, so if you want to get down and dirty and touch each setting, you have that ability. There are only two pages to this section but they are filled with adjustments, these pages are the main and memory timings page.

 

Starting at the top of the page you have the A.I. Overclock tuner that can be set to Auto, Manual, D.O.C.P., or XMP. Auto is, of course, just that everything is set for you. Manual gives you full control over all of the settings, D.O.C.P. is used for memory overclocking via the baseclock frequency while XMP has all of the options optimized for overclocked operation and sets the speeds and voltages on the installed components so that they can operate in this mode. CPU ratio setting allows you to increase or decrease the baseclock multiplier up to the maximum capabilities of the processor. If using the Core I7 965, a multiplier of 63 is possible whereas the 920 and 940 are limited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intel Speedstep and Turbo tech mode can only be set to enabled or disabled. The Turbotech function allows the processor to bump up the clock frequency by increasing the baseclock multiplier in situations where additional performance is needed. On the I7 CPUs this is bumped by one or two multiplier steps.

 

 

The DRAM frequency allows you to set the starting frequency level for the system memory. This setting is the starting point so when setting this the thing to remember is that adjusting the baseclock frequency will increase the memory speed and result in instability if you do not take this into account. The UNCLK clock frequency must at all times be exactly 2x the memory speed or greater. The QPI data rate can be lowered to increase the memory speed but you may take a hit in perfromance if you move down too early. The 6400MT/s setting is only available with the I7 965.

 


Before the voltage options are the memory subtimings and skew levels. This page is accessed by entering the DRAM timing control. This is the part of the BIOS that is reminiscent of DFI motherboards at least for me, and you can see why. At least the options are there when the time comes to push the limits.

 

The voltage controls on the P6T fall at the lower end of the A.I.Tweaker page. Most of what you would expect is there along with some new items. CPU voltage without changing the high voltage jumper is locked at 1.7 volts but is capable of 2.1 volts. The PLL volts start at 1.8 volts and can be adjusted up to 2.5 volts! The QPI/DRAM voltage control is for the memory controller voltage. Upping this can help with baseclock overclocking. It is adjustable up to 1.9 volts after the additional voltage jumper is enabled.

 

 

The ICH and IOH voltages can help with baseclock overclocking as seen on the DX58SO. The DRAM bus voltage can be adjusted upwards of 2.4 volts with the over voltage jumper being changed to accommodate this. Intel specifies that memory voltage should not exceed 1.65 volts for long term reliability. With the current crop of memory coming out to support the Core I7 and X58 platforms at speeds of up to 1000MHz at 1.65 volts, the additional voltage may well not be needed.

 

 

Additional options are available to squeeze the most from the I7 CPU and the P6T . Adjusting these parameters can help you achieve that massive overclock you are looking for but your mileage may vary. DRAM reference voltages adjustable by channel, loadline calibration, and voltage skew settings are some of these options.

 

 

 

 

This BIOS offers up enough tweaking options to be able to accomplish your goals whether it's just a small overclock or the ability to push your hardware's limits with stability.

 

Specifications:

CPU

Intel® Socket 1366 Core™ i7 Processor Extreme Edition/Core™ i7 Processor/ Supports Intel® Dynamic Speed Technology

Chipset
Intel® X58 / ICH10R
System Bus
Up to 6400 MT/s
Memory

6 x DIMM, Max. 24 GB, DDR3 2000(O.C.)*/1866(O.C.)*/1800(O.C.)*/1600(O.C.)/1333/1066 Memory
Triple channel memory architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
*Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs.
*Refer to www.asus.com or this user manual for the Memory QVL(Qualified Vendors Lidts).

Expansion Slots

3 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (at x16/x16/x4 mode)
1 x PCIe x1
2 x PCI

Multi GPU Support

Supports NVIDIA® 3-Way SLI™ Technology*
Supports ATI® Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology

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
1 xExternal SATA 3Gb/s port (SATA On-the-Go)

JMicron® JMB322 (Drive Xpert technology)
- 2 x SATA 3Gb/s
- Supports EZ Backup and Super Speed functions

LAN
Realtek® 8111C PCIe Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2
Audio

Realtek® ALC1200 8 -Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
ASUS Noise Filter
Support Jack-Sensing, Enumeration, Multi-streaming and Jack-Retasking

IEEE 1394

VIA® VT6315N controller supports 2 x 1394a ports (one at mid-board; one at back panel)

USB
12 USB 2.0 ports (6 ports at mid-board, 6 ports at back panel)
ASUS Unique Features

ASUS Exclusive Features:
- ASUS TurboV
- ASUS 8+2 Phase Power Design
- Express Gate
ASUS Power Saving Solution
- ASUS EPU-6 Engine
- ASUS AI Nap
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution:
- ASUS Fanless Design: Heat-pipe solution
- ASUS Fanless Design: Stack Cool 2
- ASUS Fan Xpert
ASUS Crystal Sound:
- ASUS Noise Filter
ASUS EZ DIY:
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-Connector
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2

Overclocking Features

ASUS TurboV utility
Precision Tweaker2:
- vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.00625V increment
- vCPU PLL: 36-step reference voltage control
- vDRAM Bus: 49-step DRAM voltage control
- vChipset(N.B.): 31-step chipset voltage control
- vNB-PCIe: 65-step chipset-PCIe voltage control
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
- Internal Base Clock tuning from 100MHz up to 500MHz at 1MHz increment
- PCI Express frequency tuning from 100MHz up to180MHz at 1MHz increment
Overclocking Protection:
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)

Special Features

Multi-language BIOS
ASUS MyLogo 2

Back Panel I/O Ports

1 x External SATA
2 x S/PDIF Out ( 1xCoaxial & 1xOptical )
1 x IEEE 1394a
1 x LAN(RJ45) port
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
8 -Channel Audio I/O
1 x PS/2 Keyboard (Purple)
1 x PS/2 mouse port (Green)

Internal I/O Connectors

3 x USB connectors support additional 6 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
2 x Chassis Fan connector
1 x Power Fan connector
2 x Drive Xpert SATA connectors (orange and white)
1 x S/PDIF Out connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
24-pin ATX Power connector
CD audio in
Front panel audio connector
Chassis Intrusion connector
System Panel (Q-Connector)
1 x Power on switch
1 x Reset switch

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
Accessories

User's manual
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
4 x SATA cable
2 in 1 Q-connector
ASUS Q-Shield
1 x ASUS 3-Way SLI bridge connector
1 x ASUS SLI bridge connector

Support Disc

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

Form Factor

ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )

 

Features:

CPU, Chipset and Graphics features:

 Memory Features:

ASUS Exclusive Features:

 ASUS Power Saving Solution:

ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution:


ASUS EZ DIY: 

 

 Industry Standard:

RoHS:

 

 

 

Al specifications and features courtesy of ASUS @ http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?modelmenu=1&model=2731&l1=3&l2=179&l3=815&l4=0

 

Testing:

To see just what kind of performance the Asus P6T is capable of I will take it through the OverclockersClub benchmarking suite. It includes synthetic and gaming benchmarks to show how it performs. I will compare the performance of the P6T against previously tested motherboards based on the same chipset. All of the stock testing is run with the factory default settings in the BIOS, save for manually setting the memory clock speeds, voltage and processor voltage. Turbo mode has been disabled on the X58 boards to eliminate any variables due to changing clock speeds during single and multi threaded benchmarks. SMT was enabled during testing as well. To overclock the Asus P6T I will push the limits and try to show results that should be easily duplicated based on the capabilities of your CPU and system memory.

 

Testing Setup i7:

 

Comparison Motherboards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

The P6T is the lesser featured brother of the P6T Deluxe OC and as such the expectations for how well it will overclock were not really as high as the higher end boards. With the reduction from a 16+2 power design to the 8+2 design on the P6T it did not look good . As it turns out, that thought could not have been further from the truth. What I found was that the P6T has got some game. The 920 that I am using is a retail version and not the ES that I looked at back in November and really was an untested commodity. After checking the stepping against a few overclocking databases it looked like it may well be an average chip. Average chip, lower end board, things did not look good. But both the 920 and P6T put on a little show and came up big. The maximum baseclock I could achieve with stability was 222MHz. But this was pretty much bench stable. 220 was stable enough to be prime stable at 220x18, or 3.96 GHz, pretty sweet so far. To get there I needed just 1.38 volts on the CPU, a QPI voltage of 1.39v, IOH of 1.36v, CPU PLL voltage of 1.86 with the memory at 1.62 volts. Not a whole heck of a lot to do to bust out that kind of speed. But of course, 3.9 is not enough and I wanted to see if the little 920 was indeed a bona fide 4GHz chip without big volts. To push higher, I dropped the base clock down to 215MHz from 220MHz with a multiplier of 19 to get to 4.1GHz. I was expecting a fight to get there and was surprised at the fact that all it took to get this clock speed stable was an increase in the CPU voltage to 1.395volts with no other changes to the previous voltage settings. Now the one thing I found that you have to do though is keep air flowing over the X58 chip to keep it cool to maintain stability at the high baseclock levels I was playing at. Other than that, nothing really special was needed to push the clock speeds on the P6T. I have got to say that the board delivered the overclocking goods with an untested CPU.

 

 

Benchmarks:

  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. SpecviewPerf 10
  4. PCMark Vantage Professional
  5. Sandra XII
  6. ScienceMark 2.02
  7. Cinebench 10
  8. HD Tune 2.55
  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. BioShock
  4. Call of Duty World At War
  5. Dead Space
  6. Fallout 3
  7. Left 4 Dead
  8. 3DMark 06 Professional
  9. 3DMark Vantage

 

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

 

ZIP:

 

 

RAR:

 

 

The performance in Apophysis is pretty much equal to that of the rest of the comparison boards. When overclocked, the P6T and 920 shave seven minutes off of the rendering time. In the WinRAR testing, the results were around the mean average of the rest of the boards. Again, when overclocked the board and processor show significant improvement.

 

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. Since the E8400 is a Dual core CPU results will only be shown in the 2 thread test.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

In Specview, the performance is similar across the board with the P6T falling in between the level of the Eclipse and P6T Deluxe. In several cases the performance was identical. PCMark Vantage performance was between the level of the EVGA and that of the MSI Eclipse.

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 are looking like there is not a whole lot of performance difference between the boards at the stock level. When the clock speeds are pushed there is a significant increase in performance. The P6T does shine in the drive 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

 

In Sciencemark the boards are separated by a maximum of 32 points. The P6T performs almost to the level of the Eclipse and P6T Deluxe. In Cinebench the P6T outscored the top of the line P6T Deluxe and the Eclipse, while the MSI X58 Platinum was the top performer. Drive performance in HDtune showed the P6T having a higher burst rate and average read speeds than the comparison boards with a lower access time.

 

 

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

"Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built specially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation first person shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality."

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From 1280x1024 to 1920x1200 there is some fluctuation in scores, with the P6T performing just below the level of the Eclipse and P6T Deluxe. Once 2560x1600 is reached, the performance limitation is the video card although the additional CPU speed in the overclocked tesing gave a 1 FPS bonus.

 

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the Island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and Aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the Cryengine 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The performance across all of the boards in this benchmark are very similar. The video card is getting hammered with this game.

Testing:

BioShock is one of the creepier games you can play. The building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong. Its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddys". 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. The environment as well as the story line will wrap you up for hours on end.

 

Video Settings:

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The way the performance is shaking out between the boards makes me think I am back testing P35 chipset motherboards as they showed the same level of performance across all of our game benchmarks.

 

Testing:

Activision's Call Of Duty World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise - WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The gameplay in the single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming in online gameplay. If you thought COD4 looked nice, this game is amazing with the graphics maxed out playing at a large resolution. This game just may be my reason to move to a 30 inch monitor. I will use Fraps to measure a section of gameplay in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island to compare performance of these video cards.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The performance when overclocked was slightly lower in some resolutions than the other boards at their stock benchmarks. The lower level of performance was not an expectation with a 4.1GHz clock speed.

Testing:

In Dead Space, as part of the crew of the USG Kellion you are headed on a repair mission to repair a ship in distress. Things go from bad to worse as starting with the crash landing and seemingly silent and "Dead" ship, the USG Ishimuru. Offering a non-traditional over the shoulder viewing angle, the game gets right into the action as soon as the ventilation systems are activated. From there things get worse with the appearance of the Necromorphs. Survival now becomes a primary concern for the primary character Isaac Clarke. Survive and you may find the loved one that was aboard the Ishimuru.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The performance is once again nearly identical across the resolutions. Even at 1920x1200 the scores are within 5 FPS.

 

Testing:

Fallout 3 takes place after the nuclear holocaust that nearly wipes out civilization and leaves the world an irradiated mess. The vault, or fallout shelter, you are born in is Vault 101, situated in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia area. The premise of the game is that the Vault has been sealed for 200 years and now your father has opened the vault and escaped without a trace. The Overseer believes you are involved, so you must escape as well into the wasteland that was once our nation's capital. I find myself looking for landmarks since I am familiar with the streets of Washington DC.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The P6T performs at the level of the comparison boards without standing out in the crowd.

Testing:

Left 4 Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. You goal is to make it to a rescue point, all the while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie 'I Am Legend' comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombie. These zombies are quick and work with the pack mentality. Your job: survival! Below are several screenshots to show some in-game action.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, the performance is eerily similar across the resolutions. It is surprising to see the level of performance that close by comparison.

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 two top tier boards have the higher performance at the lower resolution, while there is little difference after the resolution increases.

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista-based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mirroring most of the other results in this review, 3DMark Vantage shows results that are all close to the same performance wise.

 

Conclusion:

The Asus P6T proved to be an excellent overclocker with the ability to push the base clock to 222MHz for some Super Pi runs while running prime stable at 220MHz but with a reduced multiplier. The baseclock frequency reached is a function of how good both the processor and motherboard are. I was surprised at how easily the Asus P6T was able to scale upward as well. Pushing the processor past 4.0 GHz proved to be no problem with the P6T. The only real problem I had was that the cooling on the chipset was a little suspect and was extremely hot to the touch when pushing the clock speeds on the processor and memory. A quick fix is to have a fan blowing cool air over the heatsink to reduce the operating temperatures. Once that was done, I had no stability problems when pushing the limits on this board. If you don't need the additional cooling and toys, the P6T would be a great choice. The price of admission into this world of performance is right around $250, which is on the low end of the scale. While the bundle is not as expansive as some boards I have looked at, there is everything to get you started on your build. The Tri SLI bridge is included as well as the Crossfire bridge connector and not too much more. The P6T Deluxe OC, for example, runs nearly $100 more for a better bundle of accessories, better cooling and better power regulation. The fact that you can get top tier performance and overclocking from one of the lowest priced X58 based boards out there means Asus did its homework. The 8+2 phase power design works with the Core I7 920 I used in this evaluation, as evidenced by the 4.1GHz clock speed. Voltages appeared to stay steady during the overclocking phase and did not seem to cause any instability. When it comes to recovering from a failed overclock, the P6T has no issues. Reboot and go back and modify your settings, they are the same as you left them. This saves time by allowing you to only have to remember just what the last change was versus having to clear the CMOS and start from scratch. Not once did I have to employ that tool. One of the best features for those running without a case or are too lazy to hook up the front panel connections are the onboard switches for Power and Reset. No more jumping pins to get the system startred. This is not a new feature but one that has made its way onto more and more boards over the past couple of years. It's almost a requirement for enthusiast grade components.

The layout of the board is functional, with the only exception being the CMOS battery. It ends up under the video card in the top PCI-E slot. For video options there is, of course, the single card option or you can use multi GPU options from both ATI and nVidia as they are both supported with the X58 chipset. CrossfireX and Tri SLI are supported, but with no mention of Quad SLI on this board. The Asus P6T performed flawlessly once I found the ideal combination of settings to make the most of my combination. The Asus P6T delivers top tier performance with low end pricing. There is no reason not to include this board on your short list when looking for a new motherboard for that Intel Core I7 system you are just itching to build. Price, performance, multi GPU capability, how could you go wrong?

 

Pros:

 

Cons: