Asus P6T Deluxe OC Edition Review

ccokeman - 2008-10-13 17:31:54 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: November 26, 2008
Price: $338

Introduction:

The Intel Core I7 processors and X58 chipset were officially introduced about three weeks ago to much fanfare. People who do real work were ecstatic about the performance in real world tasks whereas the gamers were a little disappointinted because of the lack of a significant performance increase from the now last generation platforms. But you can't please everyone, can you? Enthusiasts and gamers will buy the processors and platform if the price is right and then there are the folks who will buy it just to have the latest and greatest with the majority going to people and corporations that know little or nothing about the enthusiast side of this addiction. They just want a system that does more work for less energy consumed. The fears of being unable to overclock on the new hardware were just that, fears based on inaccurate information since you have seen by now that the Nehalem processors and X58 platform do indeed overclock and offer up huge memory bandwidth and better performance as a whole when compared against a similarly clocked Penryn processor.

The motherboard manufacturers were ready with boards available for the introduction of the platform, one of those manufacturers being Asus. The P6T Deluxe OC Palm Edition motherboard is one of the high end boards that Asus makes for this platform and includes everything you need to get started, including the OC Palm tool that is a point of difference. The P6T Deluxe sports a 16+2 phase power design to help generate some serious overclocks by maintaining voltage stability and cleaner power, support for 12 gigabytes of DDR3 1600 (OC) memory, onboard SAS capability and last, but not least, the answer to the gamers who prefer multi GPU solutions since now there is a platform that will support both CrossfireX as well as SLI on the same motherboard. After seeing the performance of the Core I7 965 on the DX58SO from Intel, it's time to take a look at the P6T Deluxe OC Palm Edition from Asus!

Closer Look:

The Asus P6T Deluxe OC Palm Edition motherboard comes in a box that is a bit more subdued than the P45 board I last looked at. No flashy metallic blue box here, just a little blue to be a point of difference. The front panel more than makes up for the flashy box with the wealth of information contained on this panel. Highlights include the exclusive nature of the OC Palm tool included in this package, the SLI and Crossfire X support, 16+2 phase power design, 100% Japanese made solid capacitors, SAS capability and more. The rear panel goes into detail about the TurboV and OCpalm software and features, while the flip up front panel highlights the cooling system, Expressgate and much more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Popping the box open, the P6T Deluxe is the first thing you see hidden under a clear cover. Underneath this container is the box that holds the substantial bundle of accessories. All of it packaged securely.

 

 

Let's pull the parts out and look at the motherboard and bundle to see what's available!

Closer Look:

Asus has been one of the manufacturers that provides a decent bundle of accessories that often include innovative replacements for the standard parts. An example of this would be the I/O panel that minimizes electronic noise and reduces the likelihood of an errant static electrical charge damaging the board when connecting components to the I/O area. Getting back to the bundle, the items are indeed enough to fill all of the connection options on the P6T Deluxe OC Palm Edition. Documentation is limited to the driver disc and manual.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since there is plenty to look at, I'll start with the SLI bridge connector something many manufacturers neglect to include. The Q panel I/O panel is designed to reduce the electronic noise and static electrical charges that can be discharged when connections are being made.

 

 

One thing that has been copied by a few other board manufacturers are the Q-connectors. This connector is one of the coolest parts that Asus sends with its boards. It allows you to make your front panel and USB connections to the front panel case wiring and then push the connector into place instead of fighting a mass of small wires. The Q-Fan is used over the MOSFET heatsinks around the socket when water cooling is used but if you can make them work with a large air cooled heatsink there is no reason not to use it. To install a 40x40mm fan to the northbridge heatsink you will need to use the included studs to attach it; of course, read the instructions for proper installation.

 

 

 

Drive connectivity is included in the way of six SATA cables, one IDE cable and two SAS cables. There is an expansion braket that enables the consumer to use the additional onboard USB 2.0 and 1394 headers.

 

 

Now absolutely the coolest accessory I have ever seen included with a motherboard is the OC Palm overclocking tool that is alluded to in the name of the board. This tool connects to the board via a USB cable allowing you to do quite a few things. Overclocking being one of those things. To do this you use the TurboV utility. Monitoring of the available temperatures and using Yahoo widgets are other things it can do. Yahoo widgets are small applications that can be viewed on the OC Palm tool. Things such as system resources, stock tickers and even fantasy football stats to name just a few. The front panel contains the navigation buttons including the scroll button on the left with the enter and return buttons on the right.

 

 

The top contains the power button and configurable hot keys while the back side includes the USB 2.0 connection and the flip out stand so you can easily view the screen on your desk.

 

 

The screen quality is actually better than I expected from a device like this. Included are a few screen shots of the screens available.

 

 

 

Closer Look:

The P6T Deluxe is an ATX form factor mainboard built for use with Intel socket 1366 Core I7 processors, including the Extreme Edition 965. The board is built around the Intel X58 and ICH10R chipsets. With six memory slots available, the P6T offers support for up to 12 gigabytes of DDR3 1600, 1333, and 1066MHz memory in a tri-channel configuration with a maximum bandwidth capability of 2536GB/s. Cooling capabilities come in the form of a large interconnected network of heatpipes and heatsinks over the critical heat generating components. Asus continues to use the "Stack Cool" technology to reduce the operating temperatures of the heat generating components by using the special Stack Cool PCB to help dissipate the thermal load. The massive heatsink over the X58 chipset is bolted in place while the rest of the heatpipe assembly is held in place via push pins. On the backside of the PCB there is an additional bracket for the LGA 1366 socket. Even with this additional bracket the Thermalright TRUE I will use for cooling has no interference issues to note.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The I/O panel is where you will make almost all of your external connections. One thing that stands out right away is the multi colored PS/2 port. This port can be used for either a PS/2 mouse or keyboard. There are a total of eight USB2.0 ports, two gigabit LAN ports, one 1394 IEEE firewire port, one E-SATA port, one Coaxial Optical S/PDIF output, one Optical S/PDIF port and the 7.1 HD sound connections. The I/O panel offers a pretty wide array of connectivity options, including the older PS/2 connectivity for backwards compatability. Expansion capabilities come in the way of three x16 PCI-E slots that operate in either 16x/16x/1x or 16x/8x/8x/ mode and support up to Quad GPU SLI or CrossfireX technologies, one x4 PCI-E slot and two PCI slots. In between the two PCI expansion slots resides the Expressgate SSD module.

 

 

Along the bottom edge and up the right face of the P6T Deluxe is where most of the internal connectivity options are laid out. Along the bottom there are the internal sound header, the floppy drive connector (yes it's still here), the IEEE1394 internal Firewire header, three additional USB2.0 headers, the onboard power and reset switches to make the overclockers happy, the TPM module header, the overvoltage jumpers and the front panel header that contains the connectivity for the external power and reset switches and lighting.

 

 

Moving up the right side of the board there are the SATA connections. The red connections are managed by the ICH10R chipset, while the orange connections are managed by the Marvell SAS RAID controller. After working with the Intel DX58SO board that did not feature a floppy drive or IDE connection, it is refreshing to see that the aftermarket has included these options. Eventually they will go away, but not yet. Next in line is the 24-pin ATX power supply connection followed by the six DDR3 DIMM slots fan headers and the CMOS battery. It's an odd place to put it, but as tight as real estate is on this board, there doesn't appear to be many other options.

 

 

The area around the LGA1366 socket is pretty crowded with the 16+2 phase power design, heatsinks and 100% Japanese made conductive polymer capacitors. Even with the crowded real estate a Thermalright TRUE CPU cooler fit quite easily.

 

 

The cooling solution for the X58 chipset is a large aluminum/copper composite blow through design that takes advantage of the airflow generated by the stock Intel heatsink. For aftermarket cooling you can use the supplied extended mouting bolts to attach a single 40x40mm fan to the heatsink. The ICH10R is covered with a large heasink that is interconnected to the X58 chipset heatsink via a heatpipe.

 

 

Let's take a look at the BIOS to see what actually makes this thing tick.

 

Closer Look:

The BIOS used by Asus on the P6T Deluxe OC Palm Edition 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 0904, so far the best of the many I have received on this board. 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 most changes occurred in the A.I.Tweaker section because of the new settings and architecture changes. Let's get familiar with this revision.

 

Main:

There is not much contained on this page but what is there is useful information. The date and time, list of the recognized optical and hard drives as well as their configuration. Under the 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 EzFlash utility for flashing the BIOS. Asus has been incorporating this into its motherboard for a while now and 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 O/S. 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 what's available for the enthusiast!

 

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 incease or decrease the baseclock multiplier up to the maximum capabilities of the processor. The I7 965 will allow a multiplier of 63 maximum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 1 or 2 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, 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 2.5volts! The QPI/DRAM voltage control is for the memory controller voltage. Upping this can help with baseclock overclocking. It is adjustable up to 1.9volts 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 overvoltage 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 Deluxe OC Palm Edition. 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.

 

 

 

 

Whew! If you cannot make this board perform with the tweaking options, it's back to basics for you.

 

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 Deluxe. 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. The one issue I see with this board is the lack of voltages that are monitored.

 

 

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.

 

 

The OC Palm software is used for the OC Palm Handheld. Basically, you get all the functionality of the handheld on the main computer monitor screen. This makes setup and configuration a little easier and with a much larger picture. All of the tools available for use can be setup in this application so that the use of the OC Palm is seamless. To start you will need to choose which applications you will want to use. The Yahoo widgets can be used and displayed on the screen. Things such as stock tickers, system resource monitoring tools, games and even viewing fantasy football stats are things that are possible. Additionally, there are the monitoring and overclocking tools included with the P6T Deluxe. These can be configured to view all of the voltages, fan speeds and temperatures that the P6T can monitor. TurboV can be accessed to adjust the baseclock speeds as well as adjust the CPU core voltage, the memory voltage, QPI DRAM core voltage; enough adjustments to get some baseline settings.

 

 

Asus includes another handy little bit of hardware on the P6T Deluxe OC Palm edition motherboard. 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. 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!

 

 

 

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.

 

Speciifications:

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 ; Intel® QuickPath Interconnection
Memory

6 x DIMM, Max. 12 GB, DDR3 1600(O.C.)/1333/1066 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Triple channel memory architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
*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/x1 or x16/x8/x8 mode)
1 x PCIe x4
2 x PCI

Multi-GPU Support

Supports NVIDIA® 2-Way or Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports ATI® CrossFireX™ Technology

Storage

Southbridge
6 xSATA 3 Gb/s ports
Intel Matrix Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10
Marvell 88SE6320
2 x SAS (RAID 0 and 1)
Marvell 88SE6111
1 xUltraDMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices
1 xExternal SATA 3.0 Gb/s port (SATA On-the-Go)

LAN

Dual Gigabit LAN controllers 2*Marvell88E8056® PCIe Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2

Audio

ADI® AD2000B 8 -Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Support Jack-Detection, Multi-Streaming, and Front Panel Jack-Retasking
- Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O

IEEE 1394

VIA® VT6308 controller supports 2 x 1394a ports (one at mid-board; one at back panel)

ASUS Unique Features

ASUS Exclusive Features:
- ASUS TurboV
- ASUS OC Palm
- ASUS True 16+2 Phase Power Design
- Express Gate SSD
ASUS Power Saving Solution
- ASUS EPU-6 Engine
- ASUS AI Nap
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution:
- ASUS Fanless Design: Wind-Flow Heat-pipe solution
- ASUS Fanless Design: Stack Cool 2
- ASUS Fan Xpert
- ASUS Optional Fan for Water-cooling or Passive-Cooling only
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 PS/2 Keyboard/ Mouse combo port
1 x S/PDIF Out (Coaxial + Optical)
1 x External SATA
1 x IEEE1394a
2 x RJ45 port
8 x USB 2.0/1.1
8-channel Audio I/O

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
2 x SAS connectors
1 x CPU Fan connector
3 x Chassis Fan connector
1 x Power Fan connector
1 x IEEE1394a connector
Front panel audio connector
1 x S/PDIF Out Header
Chassis Intrusion connector
CD audio in
24-pin ATX Power connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
System Panel(Q-Connector)

BIOS

16 Mb Flash ROM
AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3

Manageability
WfM 2.0,DMI 2.0,WOL by PME,WOR by PME,PXE
Accessories

OC Palm
UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
6 x Serial ATA cables
2 x SAS cables
ASUS Q-Shield
User's manual
2 in 1 Q-connector
1 x 2-port USB2.0 / 1-port IEEE1394 (4-pin) module
1 x SLI bridge cable
2 x Screw pillar
1 x Optional Fan for Water-Cooling or Passive-Cooling only

Form Factor

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

 

Features:

 

 

All information on this page courtesy of Asus @ http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=179&l3=815&l4=0&model=2588&modelmenu=1

Testing:

To see just what kind of performance the Asus P6T Deluxe OC Palm Edition is capable of I will run it through the OverclockersClub benchmarking suite. This contains synthetic and gaming benchmarks to show how it performs. I will compare the P6T against the Intel DX58SO and our current testing platform with an Intel QX9770 instead of the usual Q9450 you are used to seeing. This will give a comparison against a current platform as well as the last generation's best processor on a high performing X48 based motherboard. 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. On the X58 boards Turbo mode has been disabled 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 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:

 

Testing Setup Core2:

 

Comparison Motherboards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

The Core I7 965 processor used in this review has pushed a maximum frequency of 3.97GHz but truthfully it was too hot for day to day stability at the voltage required. As seen in the Core I7 review it was fully capable of passing the entire OverclockersClub benchmark suite. On the Smackover board I was able to push a maximum baseclock frequency of 150MHz, so ultimately I had to overclock via the multiplier to reach the maximum clock speed of 3.97GHz at 1.425 volts. On the P6T I took a different path to reach the maximum frequency of 3.87GHz. To start, I pushed the baseclock frequency up until the system would not boot, then adjusted the vCore and QPI/DRAM voltage up in small increments until I would reach the next plateau and then repeated the voltage adjustments. With this method I was able to boot all the way up to a baseclock of 210MHz. On the way to a 200+ baseclock frequency I had to keep the maximum clock speed at the level my CPU would work at. By keeping the memory voltage below the level specified by Intel I was able to get the memory up to 811MHz at 9-8-8-22. This is all without playing with the skew settings so these results should be able to be duplicated fairly easily without the really in depth tweaking that is allowable in this BIOS. One thing to note is that the 0904 BIOS offered is by far the best overclocking of the many BIOSes I had available throughout the testing. The one thing that will hold you back is your comfort level when it comes to the thermal loads a cooling system has to dissipate. At the maximum clock speed and voltages I ran Prime 95 version 25.7 to check for stability and It was not uncommon to see 80+ degrees Celsius with the Thermalright TRUE. Heck, at stock voltages, under load 60+ Celsius was not out of the scope of reality. As with any overclocking your mileage may vary based on the individual components in your system. With the increase in clock speed came a pretty healthy increase in performance during the system benchmarks whereas the gaming only offered small gains. The end result for me is 3.87GHz at 203x19 for 24/7 operation.

 

 

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. Crysis
  2. Knights of the Sea
  3. Bioshock
  4. Call of Duty 4
  5. World in Conflict
  6. Far Cry 2
  7. Company of Heros-Opposing Fronts
  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:

 

 

 

In Apophysis, the performance of the P6T Deluxe trumps that of the DX58SO by the smallest of margins. In the WinRAR testing the results between Intel's offering and that of the Asus are identical. Where the P6T pulls ahead is in the RAR testing. In both the 100MB and 500MB file compression tests the P6T is noticeably faster. It was six seconds faster in the 500MB testing. An improvement at stock speeds. When overclocked to 3.87GHz the score drops dramatically.

 

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 the Specview testing the old technology has the lead in the two thread Catia testing but falls to the wayside in the other tests. The Asus P6T performs worse than the Intel offering in the Maya testing and better in the PROE tests. The Intel DX58SO performed better in the PCMark Vantage suite.

 

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 P6T Deluxe was a tick slower through most of the benchmarks than the Intel DX58SO. Drive performance was identical, Processor Arithmetic and Power Management Efficiency are where the P6T shined. With the memory pushed a bit higher on the overclock the bandwidth differential between stock and overclocked was about the bandwidth of the socket 775 platform. That's huge.

 

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 2.0 the Asus board is right at the level of the DX58SO. With performance that close there is no real clear cut answer as to which is better. The Cinebench CPUx1 testing shows the Asus P6T outperforming the Intel offering and the socket 775 X48 from Gigabyte. The multi CPU testing in Cinebench gave results that fell in the realm of run to run variances. The drive testing shows our test drive performed a little better and worse than the DX58SO. CPU usage was drastically lower on the P6T.

 

 

Testing:

Crysis has been out for quite some time now. In that time, there's yet to be a single or multi-GPU setup that can fully showcase the graphics performance of the game.  The Crysis single player demo includes both CPU and GPU benchmarks to test the performance of your processor and video card.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the lower resolutions where the graphics are not a bottleneck the P6T outperforms the rest of the field.

 

Testing:

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

 

The settings we will use are below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The P6T is just that smallest of margins quicker in this benchmark than the Core 2 and Intel spec board.

 

Testing:

BioShock is one of the creepier games out in the wild, chronicling the building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong, with its inhabitants driven mad by 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 Daddies." 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 storyline, will wrap you up for hours on end.

 

Settings:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The QX9770 gets the top score in this benchmark until the 1920x1200 resolution where the P6T and Core I7 965 pulls through and scores one FPS higher.

 

Testing:

Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare is the successor to the Call of Duty crown. This iteration of the game is fought in many of the world's hot spots with modern armaments and firepower. You can play as either a U.S. Marine or British S.A.S. trooper. SInce this game does not feature an in-game test, I will run through a section of the game and measure average FPS using Fraps 2.9.6.

 

The settings used are listed below:

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 1024x768 the P6T is noticeably faster than the comparison boards. Once the resolutions increase the scores equalize across the board with the DX58SO performing three frames per second slower than the Asus offering at 1920x1200.

 

Testing:

World in Conflict: Released last year, World in Conflict is a Real Time Strategy game that simulates the all-out war 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. Instead, you advance by conquering your foe with limited opportunities to replenish your troops.

 

The settings we will use are listed below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While performance is similar, the Asus P6T Deluxe OC Edition outperformed the Smackover at each resolution, not by much but one FPS is one FPS. Unfortunately, there is not enough of a difference to be seen in game.

 

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

"Far Cry 2 has been on the horizon for a while now and is finally here. 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. This quick preview is meant as a first look and performance evaluation, so let's take a look at the game."

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two mid resolutions were where the P6T was outperformed by the DX58SO at 1280x1024 and the X48 platform at 1680x1050. The Intel board was however, outperformed at 1920x1200 by the P6T.

Testing

Benchmark: Company of Heroes (Opposing Fronts)

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

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The P6T outperforms the performance of the Intel board in all four resolutions. The bad is that there is not a performance difference between the older technology...yet!

 

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In all four resolutions the P6T was ahead of the older technology but fell to the X58 comparison board at 1680x1050 and 1920x1200 but not by a big enough margin to be concerned about as it won't be noticed in games.

 

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Across all four resolutions the P6T was again the better performer, exceeding the scores of the Intel offering as well as the X48 platform. At 1024x768 the performance of the two Core I7 systems is substantially higher than the X48 platform.

 

Conclusion:

The P6T Deluxe OC Palm Edition has earned its overclocking wings. This is something it does quite well with a minimum amount of tweaking so even the novice can push the realistic limits on performance with a little patience. Leaning hard on the P6T I was able to get to a baseclock frequency of 210 that proved to be stable with only some Super Pi testing. In the end, a baseclock of 203 with a clock multiplier of 19 delivered a prime stable 3.87GHz on the CPU with 811MHz on the Qimonda memory with Turbo Mode disabled. The P6T performed better than the DX58SO in quite a few benchmarks but traded those wins for losses in about the same number of tests. What does that tell you? Both boards are great performers at stock speeds. Where the Asus separated itself from the Intel offering was on the overclocking front. This really was the expected result. The Intel offering was able to gain about the same overclock but did so with a much lower baseclock frequency that results in less memory bandwidth and performance in real tasks and games. When the limits are pushed, the Asus P6T was able to recover from every failed overclocking attempt I tried with a simple shut down and reboot. It even keeps the previous settings but has them set to auto to enable a boot so that they can be reconfigured. Something I grew to appreciate while overclocking on a new platform. The only real beef I have is that the heatsink over the X58 chipset gets hot when pushed. Including a 40x40mm fan with this type of bundle would have helped alleviate some of the heat buildup when a non stock cooling solution is used. Overclocking with the Palm OC tool was pretty simple and came down to adjusting the limited number of variables to gain the most from the test hardware. It did what it is supposed to and allowed overclocking from the handheld as well as from in Windows using the TurboV program. Overclcocking is just one part of the performance equation. What about the power being consumed to run the system? Asus uses its EPU 6 engine to reduce the energy footprint. I found that by setting the engine to max power savings I saved approximately 30+ watts of power consumed over the turbo and high performance settings. The pricing on the OC Palm edition comes in at about $40 more than the regular P6T Deluxe, while the premium for the OC Edition is not bad, it puts the board over the $300 dollar mark. Asus has delivered a product that offers great performance with a great bundle that can be overclocked with a minimum amount of input.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: