ASUS P5Q Premium Reviewajmatson - September 21, 2008
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The ASUS P5Q Premium is a full ATX sized motherboard that is based off of Intel's latest P45 and ICH10R chipsets. THe P5Q Premium supports all of the latest processors, including the newest 45nm multi core CPUs. In addition, the P5Q Premium supports ASUS's Express Gate quick OS system and a true 16-phase power design that takes advantage of the ASUS EPU energy saving system. The board comes in a sleek black color that uses the Stack Cool 2 PC Board. The Stack Cool 2 layers the PC board, which is designed to lower the effective temperatures of critical components. Also notice the two heatsinks on the rear of the board that support and help cool the voltage components of the board for stable operating temperatures.
The back panel of the P5Q Premium has one of the most extensive list of ports I have ever seen. Starting at the top is a PS/2 connector that can accept either a keyboard or a mouse (notice the green purple mix connector). There are a total of ten USB 2.0 ports, one optical connector, one coaxial SPDI/F connector, and the 8-Channel audio ports. Lastly, there are four (yes, I said four) Gigabit LAN ports. The LAN ports support ASUS's AI Net feature as well as teaming and redundant solutions.
Flipping over the the expansion slots, ASUS has provided support for the latest Quad-Fire setup with four PCI Express 2.0 slots. The blue slots operate at x16 electrically when run with a single card and x8 with a multi-GPU setup. The white slots runs at x8 electrically and the two black slots operate at x4 electrically. In a dual GPU CrossFire setup you would use the blue and white slots, which will run at x8/x8; however, remember this is PCI Express 2.0, so the bandwidth increase will even out the slower electrical speeds. Between the second PCI slot and the white PCI Express x16 slots is the ASUS Express Gate SSD module. This module is, in essence, a USB flash drive without a casing that is directly connected to the motherboard to a USB header and provides the software and storage needed to run the Express Gate operating system.
Swinging on to the bottom of the P5Q Premium we will take a look at the headers supplied on the motherboard. From left to right there is the is the audio header, the CD-in header, two Firewire headers, two USB 2.0 headers, the TPM header, power/reset buttons, and the front panel headers. Swinging to the right spine of the board are the ten SATA ports. Port 0-3 support the Drive Xpert feature of the P5Q Premium, which use the Silicon Image SIL5723 controller and need no drivers to be installed to an OS before being fully operational. If one drive is connected you can set it only as a backup drive for your system. With two drives you can set them up in backup mode (RAID 1), and Super Speed mode (RAID 0), without the need for any software or drivers. Think of it as a separate RAID controller independent from the ports operated by the ICH10R southbridge, which controls the six red SATA ports. To the right of the SATA ports are the IDE port, the floppy port, and the COM port.
The CPU area, even though it looks crowded, is pretty spacious and you should have no problems with CPU coolers, large or small. Around the CPU socket is ASUS's true 16-phase power design. This design uses lower RDS MOSFETs and ferrite core chokes to increase power efficiency. Notice that the P5Q Premium also uses all solid Japanese made capacitors. There are four DIMM sockets that support up to 16GB of non-ECC, un-buffered DDR2 memory at speeds of 667, 800, 1066, and 1200MHz. Although you might not need 16GB now, you never know what the future holds at your next upgrade cycle. In addition to the 16-phase power design for the CPU, ASUS has also added a two phase power design for the memory modules and the northbridge on the P5Q Premium.
To cool the ASUS P5Q Premium there are a series of heatsink and heatpipes that transfer heat away from the critical components of the board. This setup takes the heat away and then airflow from the case passes over the fins of the heatsinks and takes the hot air away and out of the case. The blower fan attaches to the power management heatsinks to give that added boost of air through active cooling.
Now that we have the board all taken out and ready to go, let's take a better look at the BIOS.