ASUS P7P55D Premium and P7P55D-E Pro Reviewccokeman - January 28, 2010
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Once you have the hardware installed and the case buttoned up, you need to install the operating system and drivers so that all of the hardware works as it is intended to. ASUS includes a driver and utility disc that includes all of the drivers, as well as a slew of utilities that you can use to make the experience more satisfying. No need to go anywhere else, as there are utilities for monitoring the hardware (Probeit), managing the energy footprint (EPU 6), overclocking and tweaking (Turbo V), as well as a few others. To get them installed, you need to start by inserting the driver disc and letting the install GUI open up.
Once the GUI is open, there are a total of six tabs that can be viewed each with a purpose. The first being the drivers tab that contains all of the drivers you need for the P7P55D series. The second is the Utilities tab that contains the monitoring tools and, of course, Adobe reader. The third tab is the Make Disk tab so you can make the driver disc if you need to run the HDDs in RAID followed up by the Manual tab in case the paper one is not enough. I'll skip the Video tab but show some more from it later. The last tab is the contact information for ASUS.
EPU-6 is a program that manages the energy efficiency of the system. It has several preset levels that you can further tailor your needs. As seen in previous reviews, the technology works quite well and offers significant energy saving if you choose to use it. One word of caution though, if you will be running a big overclock then either turn off or uninstall the software to allow you to reach for the stars. As you can see through the progression of the images, the CO2 saving continue to mount when using the EPU-6 technology with the max energy saving giving the most benefit of the four selections. The amount of energy saved is wholly dependent on the profile selected.
Turbo V Evo is the heart of the overclocking features of the ASUS P7P55D boards. You have three modes, as well as the Turbo Key function that allows you to load a preset overclocked profile at the touch of a button - much the way that the CPU Up function does. Whereas the CPU Up feature does all the work for you, the Turbo V software is a bit more hands on. The Manual mode is where you can play with the bclock and voltages for the CPU, IMC, and DRAM. The Easy Mode only allows the bclock to be adjusted, meaning you will only go so far without tweaking the voltages. By using the TurboV remote, you can make these changes on-the-fly for that quick performance boost. The TProbe software works to even the load on the power phases, keeping them from overheating and becoming overloaded. This view shows the 48 Phase design on the Premium during the high performance mode as well as the energy saving mode.
The Auto Tune section of Turbo V will run and adjust parameters such as the voltages and memory timings to reach a good, safe, and stable overclock. When you start the software it warns that there will be several reboots throughout the auto tuning process, so if you see that BSOD then you know the overclock being tested was not stable. What I did while the auto tuning process was running was just walk away and come back in about 30 minutes to see what the results were and found an overclock of just over 3.7GHz on Premium and close to 4.1 GHz on the Pro. Not too shabby, as some folks get lost and have a hard time reaching even this overclock. At 3.7GHz, the overclock achieved was over 700MHz with the touch of a button. Now, this overclock can be saved as a profile and set to load with the Turbo Key for performance when you need it! The latest revision of the software is quite a bit more robust in terms of the stability of the overclocks gained with each board. However, to get Prime 95 stable, I did need to tweak the voltage on the CPU - not much but some.
ASUS Update is a program that can be used to auto update drivers and the utilities on your system. BIOS updates can be downloaded and flashed in Windows. While flashing a BIOS in Windows can be done using the EX Flash utility, the AMI BIOS is a much better option. PC Probe is a tool that you can use to monitor voltages and temperatures that is easily configured for your tastes. The only downside is that there are three optional sensor headers that can be used on the board, but there were no sensors to attach them to in the bundle whereas in the past the sensors were included. My Logo is a program you can use to customize your own boot screen. AI Suite is still included but much of the functionality is linked to other programs but forms the basis for them it seems.
Asus includes another handy little bit of hardware/software on the P7P55D Premium and P7P55D-E Pro. 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 without booting into your main OS. 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 that you already hear in your head!
Not only do you get performance and monitoring tools, but a fully functioning way to get to the web in mere moments.