ASUS P7P55D Premium and P7P55D-E Pro Reviewccokeman -
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The P7P55D-E Pro differs in a few ways from the P7P55D Premium. Both are built for use with Intel's Socket 1156 processor line-up and, as the name suggests, are based off of the P55 Express chipset. The P7P55D-E Pro uses a Hybrid 16 Phase power design and has both true USB 3.0, as well as SATA 6Gbps capabilities all rolled up into one board. The P7P55D-E Pro is built using ASUS' Xtreme design concepts, centered around Performance, Reliability, Safety, and a Unique set of features. The board uses Stack Cool 3 construction that uses 2oz copper layers to better transfer heat through the board, cooling the components as well as the T-probe chip to dynamically level the load on the MOSFETs in the VRM circuit to keep from overheating one circuit. That's pretty cool stuff when you think about it. The cooling used on the VRM circuits looks similar to that used on the Premium, while the cooling for the PCH is a more radical design that looks like it would work better due to the cutout design.
The I/O panel contains pretty much all the connectivity you can use. You get PS/2 ports for both the mouse and keyboard instead of a single port that can be used for either one, a total of six USB 2.0 ports(four black, two red), two USB 3.0 ports (blue), one S/PDIF out port, one RJ-45 GB LAN Port, a single IEEE 1394 Firewire port, a single eSATA port and the 8-channel sound connection. Expansion capabilities on this board include two 16x PCIe 2.0 slots that operate at 16x with a single discrete video card and at 8x each when two cards are used, a total of three PCIe 1x slots, the two blue slots operate at up to 5GT/s while the gray slot operates up to 2.5GT/s and two PCI slots. CrossfireX and SLI multi-GPU solutions are supported on the P7P55D-E Pro.
Along the bottom of the board, you have a wealth of connectivity. From the left you have the Analog front panel connection, the Digital audio out, the Clear CMOS Jumper, three additional USB headers for an additional six ports, the front panel connection, and a SATA port controlled by the Jmicron JMB363 controller. In between the USB headers and the clear CMOS jumper is a PLX Technologies bridge chip used to add an additional 8 PCIe 2.0 lanes to support the bandwidth needed for SATA 6Gbps and the additional PCIe 1x slot.
Moving up the right side of the board, you have six SATA ports and the JMB363 controlled IDE port. The two gray ports are controlled by the Marvell SATA 6Gbps controller, while the four blue ports here (as well as the two further up the board) are controlled by the Intel P55 chipset and support Raid 0,1,5 and 10. Moving up the board, you get the last two of the SATA ports, controlled by the P55 chipset to give you a total of nine on-board ports. The ATX 24-pin connector is flanked by the Mem Ok button. This button is one of the Extreme Design Elements that you can use to ensure your memory will boot, by running through a series of adjustments that include relaxing timings and increasing voltage to the memory to shoot for a successful boot and eliminate any memory incompatibilities. If you look at the memory sockets, something looks a little amiss on the left side. This design element is called Q-dimm. What this does for you is allow the memory to be swapped out in cases where you have a large video card. At times the distance between the video card and retention brackets can make it difficult to reinstall the modules. Not anymore!. One last item of note on the top of the P7P55D-E Pro is a small switch that is for when you really feel like pushing your memory clocks. It opens up another higher level of voltage that can be applied to the modules for extreme overclocks.
The socket area is much less crowded than the socket area on the P7P55D Premium, but the difference in the power circuitry explains that. The P7P55D-E Pro features a Hybrid 16 Phase control circuit that, in reality, is a 12+2 design with 12 phases going to the CPU cores, two to the memory controller and two more to the T probe circuit to dynamically balance the load to keep temperatures in check, as well as delivering a more stable power curve. The board uses 100% solid Japanese capacitors and low RDS(on) MOSFETs as part of the package. The socket used on this board is built by Lotes and my guess is this change from the Foxconn socket has been precipitated by the backlash against motherboard makers for using a socket that has the potential to burn up during extreme use. The jury is still out on that one. The backplate is also Lotes as well, so I see no evidence of the Foxconn branding on the socket.
The heatsinks used on this board are both stylish and functional. The sinks around the socket are identical to the ones used on the P7P55D Premium and Deluxe. The heatsink on the PCH is a bit more aggressive looking with the heatsink cut out to mirror the graphic rather than just having a sticker make a square heatsink look like it is shaped differently.
There are a few chips on the board that really add the additional functionality to the system: the NEC USB 3.0 controller, the EPU - a hardware controller for the energy savings features and is used by the EPU 6 engine, the T-Probe controller to dynamically level the load across the 12+2 Hybrid power circuit, and the Marvell controller that brings the SATA 6Gbps functionality to this board. The PLX Bridge chip is shown earlier.