ASUS P7P55D Premium and P7P55D-E Pro Reviewccokeman -
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The P7P55D Premium was the first board in ASUS stable to include SATA 6Gbps functionality. This board from the front and rear views looks much like the rest of the boards in the series, but thats about where many of the similarities end. The P7P55D Premium uses a Hybrid 48 Phase power circuit that is a true 32+3 design with the additional Hybrid phases going to the T-Probe. The board is built using ASUS' latest Extreme design philosophy and incorporates Q-design elements, uses Stack Cool 3+ technology that uses 2-oz copper layers in the PCB for improved heat transfer to promote better cooling and lower impedance through the board circuitry, and is built with 100% Japanese long life Solid capacitors. The front view shows off the heatsink design that covers the VRM and PCH. The back side of the board shows the socket manufacturer to be Foxconn vs. the Lotes design on the P7P55D-E Pro. The back side also is equipped with an additional heat sink that does double duty as a back plate for the front heatsinks, as they are a bolt-on design instead of being attached via push pins. The P7P55D Premium is built for use with Intel's Socket 1156 processor line-up and, as the name suggests, is based off of the P55 Express chipset.
Connectivity on the I/O panel covers the whole range of what you normally see on a high end motherboard. The P7P55D Premium is equipped with a P/S2 port for both the keyboard and mouse, a Clear CMOS button (A must have option), Optical and coaxial digital sound output, eight USB 2.0 ports, two RJ-45 GB LAN ports, a single IEEE 1394 port and the 10-channel sound solution provided by the VIA VT2020 audio controller. For expansion, you get a total of six possible slots with two 16x slots that support both Nvidia's SLI and ATI's CrossfireX technologies. These ports run at 16x when a single discrete graphics card is used and they drop to 8x each when running two cards. Additionally, there are two PCIe 1x slots (2.5GT/s) and two PCI slots that really won't be of much use with some of the larger graphics solutions out there today.
Hidden right under the bottom PCIe 16x slot is the memory that holds the Express Gate operating system. This is a small Linux distribution that lets you get online within seconds of turning on the computer. You get plenty of functionality with this quick launching system, from email to going online or viewing the data stored on the HDD. "The P7P55D Premium uses the Marvell 88SE9123 controller as the means of adding SATA 6Gb/s support. By itself, it does not offer the bandwidth needed through its single PCIe interface with the P55 chipset, offering a maximum bandwidth of 250 MB/s. That's not even close to what is needed for the 600MB/s throughput of the SATA 6Gb/s interface. ASUS has used a PLX Pex8613 bridge chip to add an additional PCIe 2.0 1x lane to the P55 chipset to increase bandwidth to 500MB/s, still 100MB/s short of the standard, but better."
Along the bottom, you have added connectivity ports and connections. From the left, you have the analog front panel connections, CD sound input, IEEE 1394 port for a total of two, on-board start and reset switches, two USB 2.0 headers to bring the total amount of ports possible to twelve, two SATA connections controlled by the P55 chipset and the front panel I/O connections. The on-board switches are a big plus for the people that use a tech station or just are really too lazy to hook up the front panel connections. When you leave the case side panels off, it really is a moot point. The value of these cannot be understated as they come in handy as I fall into the 'too lazy to hook them up crowd.'
Moving up the right side of the board, you have the SATA drive connections. The four blue connections are are controlled by the P55 Chipset and support RAID 0,1,5,10. The grey ports are controlled by the Marvell 88SE9123 controller and are the SATA 6Gbps ports to use with the latest 6Gbps drives from Seagate. Further up, you run into the IDE port and 24-pin ATX power connection. Right between the 24-pin and Com port, you have the Mem Ok button. This button is used to reduce any memory incompatibility to allow the system to boot by applying different voltages and timings in an effort to start the system. One touch and wait for the system to do its thing. Behind the Com port, you have the Turbo-V chip that is used to facilitate on-the-fly overclocking from within the Windows environment. Wrapping around the top of the board, you have a trio of overvoltage switches. These, for most users, won't come out of the default position, but for those who want to push the limits, you can use these to open up the voltage levels you can apply to the installed components - such as the CPU and memory. Last but certainly not least, on this side are the DIMM slots that can hold up to 16GB of DDR3 2133(OC) memory in a dual channel configuration. These slots use the Q-dimm feature that allows the modules to be installed without causing interference to the installed graphics card. This is a problem for those who benchmark.
As you can probably figure out, the socket area is going to be a bit crowded with the Hybrid 48 Phase VRM. The 48 Phase is a bit misleading with 32 going to the CPU+ 3 going to the memory controller and the balance going to the T-Probe to load balance the current over the 35 phases. The socket is made by Foxconn and is designed for use with Intel's socket 1156 lineup. It features a 3-point system to secure the CPU into the socket. The cooling used on the P7P55D Premium consists of a heatpipe connected set of heatsinks covering the MOSFETs for the VRM and the PCH is covered with a large aluminum heatsink.
Now let's see what the P7P55D-E Pro has to offer, by way of comparison.