ASUS P7H55D-M EVO Review

jlqrb - 2010-05-19 14:09:27 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: jlqrb   
Reviewed on: June 30, 2010
Price: $124.99

Introduction:

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.

Closer Look:

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.

 

Closer Look:

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.

 

Closer Look:

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.

 

Closer Look:

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.

 

 

Closer Look:

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.

 

 

Main:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ai Tweaker:

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.

 

 

Advanced:

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.

 

 

 

 

Power:

The power menu allows the user to monitor your CPU and motherboard temperatures, fan speeds, as well as see real-time voltage readings.

 

 

Boot:

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.

 

 

 

Tools:

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.

 

 

 

 

Exit:

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.

Specifications:

CPU
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
Chipset
Intel® H55 Express Chipset
Memory
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).
Expansion Slots
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
VGA
Multi-VGA output support: HDMI, DVI-D, RGB
Supports HDMI with max. resolution 1920 x 1200@60Hz
Supports DVI with max. resolution 1920 x 1200@60Hz
Supports RGB with max. resolution 2048 x 1536@75Hz
Maximum shared memory of 1748 MB
Multi-GPU Support
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.
Storage
Intel® H55 Express Chipset built-in
6 xSATA 3.0 Gb/s ports
Marvell 88SE6111
1 xUltraDMA 133/100 for up to 2 PATA devices
1 xExternal SATA 3.0 Gb/s port (SATA on-the-go)
LAN
Gigabit LAN controller Realtek® 8112L Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2
Audio
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
IEEE 1394
VIA® 6315N controller supports 2 x 1394a port(s) (one at mid-board; one at back panel)
USB
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
- MemOK!
- 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
Overclocking Features
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
Overclocking Protection
- 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
System Panel(Q-Connector)
1 x COM connector
1 x Clear CMOS jumper
1 x MemOK! button
BIOS
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
Manageability
WfM 2.0,DMI 2.0,WOL by PME,WOR by PME,PXE
Accessories
User's manual
1 x I/O Shield
1 x UltraDMA 133/100 cable
2 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s cables
2 in 1 Q-connector
Support Disc
Drivers
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
ASUS Update
ASUS Utilities
Form Factor
uATX Form Factor
9.6 inch x 9.6 inch ( 24.5 cm x 24.5 cm

 

Features:

 

All information courtesy of ASUS @ http://usa.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=LZtx6p7WKTP77rsk&templete=2

Testing:

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:

 

Comparison Motherboards:

 

Overclocking:

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.

 

 

Benchmarks:

  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. Office 2007
  4. POV Ray 3.7
  5. PCMark Vantage Professional
  6. Sandra XII
  7. ScienceMark 2.02
  8. Cinebench 10
  9. HD Tune 2.55
  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
  3. Batman Arkham Asylum
  4. 3DMark 06 Professional
  5. 3DMark Vantage

Testing:

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:

 

 

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.

 

ZIP:

 

 

Lower is Better

 

 

RAR:

 

 

 

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.

Testing:

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.

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 functions of the CPUs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

 

 

Multi-Core Efficiency

 

 

 

Memory Bandwidth

 

 

 

Memory Latency

 

 

Cache and Memory

 

 

 

File System

 

 

 

Physical Disks

 

 

 

Power Management Efficiency

 

 


Even though the graphs show each board above or behind depending on the test, they all had very similar results.

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

 

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.

Testing:

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.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Testing:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ASUS H57 board is the best performer in Modern Warfare 2, but the ASUS P7H55D-M EVO is not too far behind.

Testing:

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.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Batman Arkham Asylum, all the boards had very similar performance.

Testing:

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.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two ASUS boards seem to perform the best in this benchmark, but at stock the H57 board dominates the others.

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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