ASUS P7H55D-M EVO Review
Reviewed by: jlqrb
Reviewed on: June 30, 2010
Intel's H55 chipset is a low priced, mainstream product that is designed to utilize the integrated graphics built into the new Clarkdale based processors. This design has proven to be a very good option for users that are looking to get the best performance possible while avoiding the high premium of the Core i7 series. What really separates this chipset from others using the LGA 1156 socket type (such as the P55) is that the H55 along with the H57 have onboard video options to add support for the IGP found on the Clarkdale processors. This should make this an ideal solution for HTPC use and as stated before the price puts it well within the mainstream. So, with the H55 line expanding the new Core lineup to a wider audience and many motherboard manufactures producing boards based on this chipset it might be hard to find the board that best fits your needs. In this review we are going to be looking at the ASUS P7H55D-M EVO and comparing it to other offering from the H55 and H57 lineup to see what distinguishes this board over the others.
The ASUS P7H55D-M EVO comes packaged in a light blue box that is standard size for a mATX motherboard. Both the front and back of the packaging highlight the main features and support of the motherboard. But like most products the back panel is more in-depth where as the front is used more to showcase the included features. Once the packaging is opened the accessories are found sitting on top of a cardboard divider with the motherboard below.
The included accessories are two SATA cables, one IDE cable, the rear I/O shield, the user manual and the driver's disc. Really just the basics are included, but this is standard for a mainstream motherboard. Found below the accessories is the P7H55D-M EVO which comes in a protective antistatic bag.
The ASUS P7H55D-M EVO comes with a very nice style that uses blue throughout the peripheral areas on a brown PCB. For the most part, this board is visually similar to the ASUS P7H57D-V EVO, but with this board using the mATX form factor some parts such as the chipset cooler had to be reduced in size. Still, even with the smaller size ASUS still did a good job with the layout as all the installation areas have good spacing so there should be no issues adding even the largest add-on components. Also, to ensure the best performance, reliability and safety ASUS uses their Xtreme Design technology which uses high quality components such as low RDS (on) MOSFETs, ferrite core chokes, all solid capacitors and dual 2-oz copper layers throughout the PCB. All of this increase the board’s functions, cooling performance and longevity. The Xtreme Design also includes some software based utilities to improve the performance, which we will be looking at shortly
The processor installation area of the P7H55D-M EVO is very impressive for a board that retails for just over $100. This is mainly because of the use of such a robust VRM area that comes with an 8+3 phase unit design. It also has all solid Japanese capacitors, ferrite core chokes and an 8-pin CPU power connector. All of which is part of the Xtreme Design, that uses high-quality components to improve the power efficiently of the motherboard as well as the overclocking potential. Additionally, ASUS uses a unique passive cooling solution on the VRM that will reduce the operating temperature, even while the voltage is being increased due to overclocking.
The CPU area itself uses a Tyco Electronics LGA 1156 socket type that will support both Intel Lynnfield and Clarkdale processors. This means you can use any i3, i5 or i7 processor as long as they fit into the LGA 1156 socket type. This gives the H55 a lot of room for personalization as not only can you buy a processor based on the operating frequency, but you can also chose one with or without a built-in IGP. If you do use a processor with a built-in graphics unit the video options found on the rear I/O panel will be usable, but if you choose a processor without an IGP all the video ports will be disabled.
Like most boards, the memory DIMMs on the board are found just to the right of the CPU area and are color coded per channel. There are a total of four memory DIMM slots that can support up to 16GB of DDR3 memory rated at 2133(O.C.)/1600/1333/1066 in dual-channel architecture. By default, the motherboard will supply 1.5V to the installed memory. This keeps the voltage well under the 1.65V that Intel states should not be exceeded in order to prevent damage to the integrated memory controller on the CPU.
The memory area also comes with a few features that are unique to ASUS. The first is that each DIMM only has one latch to lock the memory in place. Removing this latch is beneficial to users that have large graphics cards that could otherwise run into spacing issues. Next is the MemOK button which by simply pressing it can check for the best memory settings to ensure compatibility guaranteeing the board will boot. This eliminates the issue of having to clear the CMOS or install only one stick of memory at a time to get the system to post if there is a problem.
For rear I/O expansion ASUS has included one PS/2 keyboard port, Optical S/PDIF out, VGA port, HDMI port, DVI-D port, IEEE 1394a port, LAN (RJ-45) port, eSATA port, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports and six jacks for the 8-channel rear audio options. A very good amount of expansion can be had here and the use of USB 3.0 is always a nice feature to add some future-proofing. The USB 3.0 ports are supported by an on-board NEC chip that is found just behind the rear I/O panel.
For add-on expansion there are two PCIe x1 slots, one PCI slot and one PCIe x16 slot. The amount of expansion here is reduced from high-end models, but for a mainstream mATX motherboard this will be more than enough. Also, with three video options it is easy to see why the H55 chipset is ideal for HTPC users.
The expansion headers are located at the bottom of the motherboard under the PCI slots. In this area, ASUS has included a front panel audio header, one IEEE 1394a FireWire header, three USB 2.0 headers, one serial port header, the system panel header, one EIDE port, and six SATA ports. Again, this is a good amount of expansion and should satisfy most users needs. However, with the H55 lacking any native RAID support this technology will not be available. Also, to ensure that large graphics cards with dual slot coolers don't block any of the available SATA ports ASUS has placed four for the ports above the PCIe x16 slot and the additional two about an inch and half below it.
Installation of the ASUS drivers and utilities is done via the included installation disc. Once the disc is inserted into a DVD drive it will auto run and open a installation window. From within this window, you will have the ability to install all the drivers manually. At the top there are six tabs that separate the different available programs to make it easier for the user to find the needed divers.
The initial utility that is available for install is ASUS Express Gate. Very little is actually needed once you have started the installation process and what it needed mainly consists of is the user clicking the occasional next button. After installing this program, the user will have a simple way to access the internet and view photos without having to enter Windows.
The Intel chipset drivers use a very simple interface and like the Express Gate mainly just needs you to continue the installation and then cycle though a system restart.
ASUS Express Gate is a application powered by SplashTop that can be accessed prior to booting into Windows. After this program is installed it will be the first screen you see when you power your system on. To start the program you simply press any key when you see the Express Gate screen and that will cancel a ten second countdown. If you do not press a key, the countdown will continue and after the ten seconds the system will start normally.
Once you are in the application you, there are options at the bottom that will allow you to surf the net, use Skype, IM, play online games or even view images. This is a very quick loading application and even though it is not a replacement for a operating system it could be a good choice for your simple computing needs.
ASUS Turbo V is a utility that is part of the Xtreme Design and will allow you to easily overclock your system from within Windows. After this program has started, the user can either choose a preset overclocking level that will determine the systems speed or manually use the controls found below. This is a very easy to use application and even though it doesn't give you the detailed controls found in the BIOS, it could be very useful for a quick and easy overclock. In the last image, you can see that this tool will allow for some pretty extreme (but not recommend) settings.
ASUS Probe II is a program that monitors your systems vitals as well as notifies the user of any problems. This tool can give detailed information about your HDD, memory, and CPU. Additionally, it also senses the CPU temps, fan speeds, and system voltages.
ASUS AI SUITE is a simple program that allows you to view system information and launch several ASUS utilities
ASUS Turbo Key is also a program included as part of the Xtreme Design and when active turns the power switch on you case into a overclocking switch. Once the program has started, you will see the power icon in the menu glow red and from that point you will be able to use your power button for a quick overclock. After the button has been hit, it will activate a scaling technology that will increase the systems processing speed when under load. This is essentially what Intel's SpeedStep technology does, so unless SpeedStep is disabled or unavailable this program will not need to be used.
The BIOS used by the ASUS P7H55D-M EVO motherboard uses a version of the AMI BIOS, which comes with a look that is unique to ASUS. The AMI BIOS can make simple changes such as setting a first boot device or changing the system date and time. It can also make more complicated changes, such as adjustments to a processors clock speed or setting specific timings for your memory. The changes made in the BIOS affect the overall system performance and stability.
The main section is the first part of the BIOS that you come to when you start up into it. In this section you can control the date and time for the system, control the drives and storage configurations for ACHI or RAID, and view the system information such as the BIOS version, processor model and speed, and the memory size.
The Ai Tweaker section is the menu where the user has the option to adjust the systems settings for enhanced performance. If you have used any ASUS board over the past few years, this section should be very familiar. In this section, you can adjust the CPU speeds, system multipliers, memory dividers, and more. You can control the voltages for everything from the CPU to the chipset and memory. Additional options in this menu consist of DRAM Timings, PCIe Frequency, and HT Link speed. Also in this menu is the Intel SpeedStep option. This is a hardware based utility that can increase the performance of your CPU by automatically adjusting the clock speed during operation. This option should be disabled while overclocking to ensure the CPU does not exceed the maximum stable overclocked speed.
The Advanced section has a lot that you can change. This is where you can change the CPU configuration such as enabling C1E support, Hardware Prefetcher, Adjust Cache Line Prefetch, and set a Max CPUID Value Limit. In the Advanced section are also the video controls you can also make changes to the on-board devices such as the USB functions or selecting the primary video device whether it be the on-board video or a discrete card.
The power menu allows the user to monitor your CPU and motherboard temperatures, fan speeds, as well as see real-time voltage readings.
The Boot section is where you select the boot priority and boot configuration such as Quick Boot, Logo selection, and error messages. You can also assign or remove the BIOS and system passwords to protect your system.
The tools section is where you can control additional features of the board such as flashing the BIOS using the ASUS EZ Flash 2 utility, enabling the Express Gate feature, resetting the data to defaults if needed, loading or saving overclocking profiles using the ASUS O.C. Profile section, and testing the LAN connection using the AI Net 2 utility.
That last tab in the BIOS is the Exit tab and other than just allowing for a easy way to close the BIOS, it also allows the user to load the systems default settings.
Intel® Socket 1156 Core™ i7 Processor/Core™ i5 Processor/Core™ i3 Processor/ Pentium® Processors
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology*
* The Intel Turbo Boost Technology support depends on the CPU types.
** Refer to www.asus.com for Intel CPU support list
Intel® H55 Express Chipset
4 x DIMM, Max. 16 GB, DDR3 2133(O.C.)*/1600/1333/1066 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
*Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs. Some hyper DIMMs only support one DIMM per channel. Please refer to Memory QVL for details.
**Refer to www.asus.com or this user manual for the Memory QVL(Qualified Vendors Lists).
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1 (2.5GT/s, gray slots)
1 x PCI
*Dual x8 mode is only supported by Intel non-Integrated graphics (Lynnfield) processors. For more detail please visit www.Intel.com
Supports ATI® Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
*SLI™ and CrossFireX™ mode are available only for Intel non-iIntegrated graphics (Lynnfield) processors.
Intel® H55 Express Chipset built-in
6 xSATA 3.0 Gb/s ports
1 xUltraDMA 133/100 for up to 2 PATA devices
1 xExternal SATA 3.0 Gb/s port (SATA on-the-go)
Gigabit LAN controller Realtek® 8112L Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2
Realtek 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- BD Audio Layer Content Protection
- Supports Jack-Detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-Retasking
- Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
- ASUS Noise Filter
VIA® 6315N controller supports 2 x 1394a port(s) (one at mid-board; one at back panel)
NEC® USB 3.0 controller:
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports (blue; at back panel)
Intel® H55 Express Chipset:
- 10 x USB 2.0 ports (6 ports at mid-board, 4 ports at back panel)
ASUS Unique Features
ASUS Xtreme Design
ASUS Exclusive Overclocking Features
- GPU Boost
- TurboV and Turbo Key
ASUS Xtreme Phase
- 8+3 Phase Power Design
ASUS Exclusive Features
- Express Gate
- ASUS EPU
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution
- ASUS Fanless Design: Stack Cool 3
- ASUS Fan Xpert
ASUS EZ DIY
- ASUS Q-DIMM
- ASUS Q-Connector
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS MyLogo 2
- Multi-language BIOS
Precision Tweaker 2
- vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.00625V increment
- vIMC: Adjustable IMC voltage at 0.02V increment
- vDRAM Bus: Adjustable DRAM voltage at 0.02V increment
- vPCH: Adjustable PCH voltage at 0.01V increment
- vCPU_PLL: Adjustable CPU_PLL voltage at 0.02V increment
- iGPU: Adjustable iGPU voltage at 0.0125V increment
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
- PCI Express frequency tuning from 100MHz up to 200MHz at 1MHz increment
- Internal Base Clock tuning from 80MHz up to 500MHz at 1MHz increment
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x D-Sub
1 x HDMI
1 x External SATA
1 x S/PDIF Out (Optical)
1 x IEEE 1394a
1 x LAN(RJ45) port
4 x USB 2.0/1.1
8 -Channel Audio I/O
1 x PS/2 Keyboard (Purple)
2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
1 x DVI-D
Internal I/O Connectors
3 x USB connectors support additional 6 USB ports
1 x IDE connector
1 x IEEE 1394a connector
1 x CPU Fan connector
1 x Power Fan connector
6 x SATA 3.0Gb/s connectors
1 x Chassis Fan connector (1x4-pin)
Front panel audio connector
1 x S/PDIF Out Header
1 x 24-pin ATX Power connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
1 x COM connector
1 x Clear CMOS jumper
1 x MemOK! button
64 Mb Flash ROM , SPI, AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
WfM 2.0,DMI 2.0,WOL by PME,WOR by PME,PXE
1 x I/O Shield
1 x UltraDMA 133/100 cable
2 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s cables
2 in 1 Q-connector
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
uATX Form Factor
9.6 inch x 9.6 inch ( 24.5 cm x 24.5 cm
LGA1156 Intel® Lynnfield/Clarkdale Processor Ready - This motherboard supports the latest Intel® Lynnfield and Clarkdale processors in LGA1156 package, which has memory and PCI Express controller integrated to support 2-channel (4 DIMMs) DDR3 memory and 16 PCI Express 2.0 lanes providing higher graphics performance. Moreover, Intel® Clarkdale integrated Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) processors which goes with Intel® H57/H55 chipset with VGA out can bring you to the whole new experience of the next generation VGA performance. It also provides separated 3D, 2D and Video Engines to execute different graphic control in hardware.
Intel H55 - The Intel® H55 Express Chipset is the latest one-chipset design to support latest 1156 socket Intel® Core™ i7/ Core™ i5/Core™ i3/ Pentium® Processors. Intel® H55 chipset improved performance by utilizing serial point-to-point links, allowing increased bandwidth and stability. Using Intel® Core™ i5 6 Series and Core™ i3 5 Series and Pentium® CPU with H55 Express Chipset to enjoy the latest Intel integrated graphic performance!
PCIe 2.0 - Double Speed; Double Bandwidth
This motherboard supports the latest PCIe 2.0 devices for double speed and bandwidth which enhances system performance.
HDMI Support - Enjoy Full HD 1080p Multimedia Home-Theater Entertainment
High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is a set of digital video standards that delivers multi-channel audio and uncompressed digital video for full HD 1080p visuals through through a single cable. Supporting HDCP copy protection such as HD DVD and Blu-ray Discs, HDMI provides you with the highest-quality home theater experience.
DVI Support - DVI (Digital Visual Interface) provides high visual quality of digital display devices such as LCD monitor. The interface of this motherboard supports dual VGA output both DVI-D/HDMI and RGB.
Dual-Channel DDR3 2133(O.C.) / 1600 / 1333 / 1066 support - The motherboard supports DDR3 memory that features data transfer rates of 2133(O.C.) / 1600 /1333 / 1066 MHz to meet the higher bandwidth requirements of the latest 3D graphics, multimedia, and Internet applications. The dual-channel DDR3 architecture enlarges the bandwidth of your system memory to boost system performance.
True USB 3.0 Support - Unique PCIe x4 Bridge Chip for Ultra Performance
Experience ultra-fast data transfers at 4.8Gbps with USB 3.0—the latest connectivity standard. Built to connect easily with next generation components and peripherals, USB 3.0 transfers data 10X faster and is also backward compatible with USB 2.0 components.
ASUS TurboV - Easy, Real-Time O.C. Tunings
Feel the adrenaline rush of real-time O.C. - now a reality with the ASUS TurboV. This easy O.C. tool allows you to overclock without exiting or rebooting the OS; and its user-friendly interface makes overclock with just a few clicks away. Moreover, the ASUS OC profiles in TurboV provides the best O.C. settings in different scenarios.
GPU Boost - Instant iGPU Level Up!
GPU Boost overclocks the integrated GPU in real time for the best graphics performance. User-friendly UI facilitates flexible frequency and voltage adjustments. Its ability to deliver multiple overclocking profiles also provides rapid and stable system-level upgrades.
Turbo Key - Touch-n-Boost!
ASUS Turbo Key allows the user to turn the PC power button into an overclocking button. After the easy setup, Turbo Key can boost performances without interrupting ongoing work or games - with just one touch!!
ASUS 8+3 Phase Power Design - Longer Life & Higher Efficiency!
Unleashes ultimate memory performances with independent power to core components, while providing fast transient response and stability for the CPU under heavy loading or overclocking modes.
ASUS Express Gate - 0 to Internet in Seconds!
Express Gate™ is an ASUS exclusive OS that provides you with quick access to the Internet and key applications before entering Windows®.
ASUS EPU - System Level Energy Saving
The new ASUS EPU - the world´s first power saving engine, has been upgraded to a new six engine version, which provides total system power savings by detecting current PC loadings and intelligently moderating power in real-time. With auto phase switching for components (which includes the CPU, VGA card, memory, chipset, drives and system fan), the EPU automatically provides the most appropriate power usage via intelligent acceleration and overclocking - helping save power and money.
MemOK! - Any Memory is A-OK!
MemOK! quickly ensures memory boot compatibility. This remarkable memory rescue tool requires a mere push of a button to patch memory issues. MemOK! determines failsafe settings and dramatically improves your system boot success. Get your system up and running in no time!
ASUS Fanless Design - Heatsink solution - The crystal-shaped heatsink features 0-dB thermal solution that offers users a noiseless PC environment. Not only the beautiful shape upgrades the visual enjoyment for motherboard users, but also the heatsink design lowers the temperature of the chipset and power phase area through high efficient heat-exchange. Combined with usability and aesthetics, the ASUS crystal-shaped heatsink will give users an extremely silent and cooling experience with the elegant appearance!
Fan Xpert - ASUS Fan Xpert intelligently allows users to adjust both the CPU and chassis fan speed according to different ambient temperature , which is caused by different climate conditions in different geographic regions and system loading.Built-in variety of useful profiles offer flexible controls of fan speed to achieve a quiet and cool environment.
8-channel Audio - Enjoy high-end sound system on your PC!
The onboard 8-channel HD audio (High Definition Audio, previously codenamed Azalia) CODEC enables high-quality 192KHz/24-bit audio output, jack-sensing feature, retasking functions and multi-streaming technology that simultaneously sends different audio streams to different destinations. This motherboard now adopts the future standard to deliver the most vivid audio enjoyment!!
S/PDIF-out on Back I/O Port - This motherboard provides convenient connectivity to external home theater audio systems via optical S/PDIF-out (SONY-PHILIPS Digital Interface) jacks. It allows to transfer digital audio without converting to analog format and keeps the best signal quality..
Noise Filter - Eliminate background noise while recording
This feature detects repetitive and stationary noises like computer fans, air conditioners, and other background noises then eliminates it in the incoming audio stream while recording.
Gigabit Lan support - The on-board LAN controller is a highly integrated GbLAN controller. It is enhanced with an ACPI management function to provide efficient power management for advanced operating systems.
ASUS Q-Design - DIY quickly, DIY easily!
ASUS Q-Design enhances your DIY experience. All of Q-LED, Q-Slot and Q-DIMM design speed up and simplify the DIY process!
Q-Connector - Make connection quick and accurate!
The ASUS Q-Connector allows you to connect or disconnect chassis front panel cables in one easy step with one complete module. This unique adapter eliminates the trouble of plugging in one cable at a time, making connection quick and accurate.
EZ-Flash 2 - Simply update BIOS from a USB flash disk before entering the OS
EZ Flash 2 is a user-friendly BIOS update utility. Simply launch this tool and update BIOS from a USB flash disk before entering the OS. You can update your BIOS only in a few clicks without preparing an additional floppy diskette or using an OS-based flash utility.
CrashFree BIOS 3 - Simply restore corrupted BIOS data from USB flash disk
The ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3 allows users to restore corrupted BIOS data from a USB flash disk containing the BIOS file. This utility saves users the cost and hassle of buying a replacement BIOS chip.
O.C. Profile - Conveniently store or load multiple BIOS settings
Freely share and distribute favorite overclocking settings The motherboard features the ASUS O.C. Profile that allows users to conveniently store or load multiple BIOS settings. The BIOS settings can be stored in the CMOS or a separate file, giving users freedom to share and distribute their favorite overclocking settings.
GreenASUS - The motherboard and its packaging comply with the European Union´s Restriction on the use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS). This is in line with the ASUS vision of creating environment-friendly and recyclable products and packaging to safeguard consumers´ health while minimizing the impact on the environment.
All information courtesy of ASUS @ http://usa.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=LZtx6p7WKTP77rsk&templete=2
Testing is the only way to prove whether or not one motherboard is better than the others, when it comes down to performance. Some groups like all the whiz-bang features, while the hard-core enthusiasts just want good solid reliable performance. To find out which one gives that last little bit of clock speed, or has the right options in the BIOS, we test the motherboards out one at a time. This process is an arduous task, but it's the only way to do it properly. To test out this combination of motherboards, I will be running them through the OverclockersClub suite of benchmarks. The only deviations from the default BIOS settings will be that the energy saving features, as well as Turbo technology, are disabled so that the motherboard can be tested with a measure of repeatability. The video card control panel settings are left at factory defaults except where noted. Since each motherboard company has its own design philosophy it will be interesting to see which of the designs wins out.
Testing Setup i5:
- Processor: Intel Core i5 661
- Motherboard: ASUS P7H55D-M EVO
- Memory Mushkin Blackline DDR3 1600MHz
- GPU: XFX Radeon HD5870
- Power Supply: ZALMAN ZM750-HP 750W
- Hard Drive: Seagate 750GB 7200.11
- OS: Windows Windows 7 Pro
- Case: Microcool Banchetto 101
- CPU Cooler: Corsair H50 dual-fan
During the overclocking I originally used the P7H57D-E EVO as a reference which was able to increase the clock speed to 4.5GHz. Unfortunately, even though the two board share the same build quality and a similar VRM with a 8+3 phase design, it just could not match its older brothers results. From that point, I proceeded to reduce the clock speeds until I found a level where the board could keep the Intel 661 processor stable. After I found a speed that would boot into Windows, I started testing each setting using Prime95 and would only consider the OC stable after the system could run the program for one hour with no errors. The point where this board could perform this feat was just shy of 4.3GHz with the memory at 1652MHz. This is a very respectable overclock, but I was hoping it would more closely match its H57 counterpart.
Maximum Clock Speeds:
Each CPU has been tested for its maximum stable clock speeds using Prime95. To gauge the maximum stability level, each processor had to be able to perform at least a one hour torture test without any errors.
- Scientific & Data:
- Office 2007
- POV Ray 3.7
- PCMark Vantage Professional
- Sandra XII
- ScienceMark 2.02
- Cinebench 10
- HD Tune 2.55
- Far Cry 2
- Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
- Batman Arkham Asylum
- 3DMark 06 Professional
- 3DMark Vantage
The first part of our testing will be the system specific benchmarks.
Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:
- Resolution: 2750x2048
- Quality: 500
- Limit Memory use: 512MB
The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.
Lower is Better
WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 100MB and 500MB files to test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds. Additionally, I will use the built in benchmark as a comparison.
Lower is Better
Lower is Better
When used at stock, the ASUS P7H55D-M EVO was at the same performance level as the other boards in Apophysis. However, after overclocking, this board did very well and was only bested by the two models that were clocked at 4.5GHz. In WinRAR, all the boards had similar performance at both the stock and overclocked levels, except for the ECS H55H-CM.
Office 2007 Excel Big Number Crunch: This test takes a 6.2MB Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and performs about 28,000 sets of calculations that many of the most commonly used calculations in Excel. The measure of this test is how long it takes to refresh the sheet.
Lower Is Better
POV Ray 3.7: This program features a built in benchmark that renders an image using Ray Tracing. The latest versions offer support for SMP (Symmetric MultiProcessing) enabling the workload to be spread across the cores for a quicker completion.
Higher Is Better
PCMark Vantage x64 is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual CPU to see which CPU, if any, rises above the others.
In these tests, the stock performance was right in-line with the other H55/H57 boards and the overclocking results pushed the board with the higher clock speeds to the top. The overclocked results were very close though despite the 200MHz faster clocks speeds of the Gigabyte and ASUS H57 boards.
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 functions of the CPUs.
Cache and Memory
Power Management Efficiency
Even though the graphs show each board above or behind depending on the test, they all had very similar results.
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
Sciencemark and CineBench had all the boards performing equally, but what was surprising is that the ASUS P7H55D-M EVO outperformed the higher overclocked Gigabyte board in the Cinebench test that used all cores to render the image. All the results in HD Tune were nearly identical.
Far Cry 2:
Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially 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 50km squared 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.
- DirectX 10
- Game settings to high
- Vsync Off
The ASUS P7H55D-M EVO did a very good job when benching in Far Cry 2. In the higher resolutions, the results were very similar, but this is because with these settings the load is mostly being handled though the graphics card. The lowest resolution of 1280x1024; however, splits the load between the CPU as well. At this resolution this board was second only to its H57 counterpart.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the latest iteration of the venerable first-person shooter series, Call of Duty. Despite its long, successful pedigree, the game is not without substantial criticism and controversy, especially on the PC. Aside from the extremely short campaign and lack of innovation, the PC version's reception was also marred by its lack of support for user-run dedicated servers, which means no user-created maps, no mods, and no customized game modes. You're also limited to 18-player matches instead of the 64-player matches that were possible in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Despite all this, the game has been well received and the in-house IW 4.0 engine renders the maps in gorgeous detail, making it a perfect candidate for OCC benchmarking.
- 4x AA
- 4x AF
The ASUS H57 board is the best performer in Modern Warfare 2, but the ASUS P7H55D-M EVO is not too far behind.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is a new game that brings together two bitter foes, the Joker and Batman. The Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to rein the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of PhysX technology to create a rich environment for you to play your trade.
- Global settings to High
- V-Sync: Off
In Batman Arkham Asylum, all the boards had very similar performance.
3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is started. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.
- SM2.0 Graphics Tests: GT1- Return to Proxycon, GT2- Firefly Forest
- CPU Tests: CPU1- Red Valley, CPU2- Red Valley
- HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Tests: HDR1- Canyon Flight, HDR2- Deep Freeze
The two ASUS boards seem to perform the best in this benchmark, but at stock the H57 board dominates the others.
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.
- All default settings in each preset level
- Entry 1024x768
- Performance 1280x1024
- High 1680x1050
- Extreme 1920x1200
In 3DMark Vantage, the Asus P7H55D-M EVO does a great job and it actually takes the lead in the Extreme test run.
The ASUS P7H55D-M EVO is an outstanding motherboard that left me with little to dislike. This is because it has very strong performance, support for multiple processors, high quality components, and - despite its mATX form factor - comes packed with a wide array of features. In fact, other than a few exceptions this board comes with many of the same features of the more expensive ASUS P7H57D-V EVO. Of course, you lose some of the high-end goodies such as CrossFireX/SLI support and extra expansion options, but some of what they do have in common are a very robust VRM area, great on-board cooling, support for all LGA 1156 processors and features such as USB 3.0. Even with all this, the H55 model retails for $120 dollars, which is $80 less than the H57 offering. One thing it did lack was that it couldn't match the H57 model in overclocking. This was a bit surprising as both boards use ASUS's Xtreme Design and share a very similar VRM area. Still, the ASUS P7H55D-M EVO was only 200MHz shy of the 4.5GHz overclock of the more high-end board and it was able to produce the third best overclock this chip has seen.
Beyond just making a board that performs and overclocks well, ASUS has also included a variety of features to make the P7H55D-M EVO stand out. Some of these are software utilities and others are features that are integrated onto the board itself. On the software side you have easy to use overclocking tools such as Turbo V and Turbo Key. Both of these are used to improve the systems performance either manually or automatically by increasing the processor and memory frequencies without having to enter the BIOS. Also, you get programs that will allow you to check your system temperatures, monitor devices, and perform simple computing functions with a utility called Express Gate without having to enter into a primary operating system. On the hardware side, ASUS has also included plenty of features as well, with the most noticeable being support for USB 3.0. I know that there are several boards that are now including this option, but it is far from being an industry standard. Additionally, you get features such as ASUS's MemOK button which ensures memory compatibility from the simple press of a button and a host of video options on that back panel that work with Intel's Clarkdale processors.
The only real flaw I could find with this board is that there is a total lack of support for RAID. This is actually a limitation of the H55 chipset so it is understandable. However, there are a few manufacturers that have opted to use on-board chips to circumvent this issue and include RAID. As one of the more expensive models from the H55 series, it would have been nice if ASUS took similar steps to add this technology.
Even though the ASUS P7H55D-M EVO lacks RAID support this board is a great option for anyone looking for a motherboard with strong performance at a reasonable price for their Intel Clarkdale or Lynnfield processor.
- Support for Clarkdale and Lynnfield processors
- Comes with great software utilities
- USB 3.0
- No RAID options