ASUS P5Q Premium Review
Reviewed by: ajmatson
Reviewed on: September 21, 2008
Lately we have taken a look at some interesting motherboards based on one of Intel's latest chipsets, the P45/ICH10R combo. The P45 chipset is geared toward mainstream PC users and enthusiasts, giving us top technology for a price. Whether you are looking to upgrade from that older motherboard or just building a new system, you might want to check out what the P45 chipset has to offer you. The P45 chipset allows you to use your system to its fullest with fast speeds and current technology.
ASUS has adopted the P45 chipset for its P5Q line of motherboards. Today we are going to take a look at one of the company's high end models, the P5Q Premium, which uses the P45/ICH10R chipset. The ASUS P5Q Premium not only has the chipset up its sleeve but a whole lot more, such as being able to get you on the Internet in about five seconds from powering on and enhanced security features. All that and the speed you crave. Let's take a better look for ourselves.
The ASUS P5Q Premium comes packaged in a very flashy box, which seems to be common with motherboards of a high end nature. The front of the box highlights some of the most important features of the P5Q Premium, including the EPU energy saving system and the ASUS Express Gate software that will allow you to get online quickly even without an operating system installed on your computer. It also highlights the sixteen phase power system ASUS has opted for on the P5Q board. The back of the box shows off a few more details of the features as well as a picture of the board and the specifications.
Opening up the package, you get a glimpse of the wealth of the accessories that are included with the ASUS P5Q Premium motherboard. I will go into more detail about the accessories next but here is a shot of the contents and the board still wrapped in the anti-static bag.
Now that everything is unboxed, let's take a look at what is included.
ASUS has always done well with the type and number of accessories included with its motherboards. The P5Q Premium makes no exception. To start off, there is the manual, quick start guide, and the driver CD. The driver CD is also where the wealth of extra software that is included with the motherboard is stored. For cables you have everything you need and then some. There is one IDE cable, one floppy cable, eight SATA cables, two 4-pin to SATA power adapters supporting up to four drives, and an external bracket that has an eSATA port and a 1394a 4-pin port.
The backplate that ASUS includes with its higher end motherboards is called the Q-Shield. The Q-Shield removes all of those sharp metal tabs and replaces them with a foam backed EMI shield to prevent any electrical interference from affecting the board's components. This not only protects your fingers and hardware from sharp objects, but also reduces the chance that one of the tabs might short out a piece of hardware and there goes your nice, shiny new motherboard.
ASUS also includes a set of Q-Connectors, which makes pluging in the front panel connections easier than ever. Just plug in the front panel leads to the marked spots on the Q-Connectors and plug in the full Q-Connector onto the motherboard front panel header; no more guessing or trying to find the manual to see what header is what. ASUS also includes a small blower type fan to add to cooling the voltage regulators heatsinks for extra cooling or when a passive cooling system is used, such as a water cooling setup where there is no airflow around the CPU. Lastly, ASUS has included a TPM (Trusted Platform Module), which we will get into in the Extras section.
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.
The BIOS of a motherboard is one of the most important parts of the system. This is like the brains of the computer where all of the tweaking and overclocking goes on. So many people take the BIOS for granted and think it is scary, however the BIOS these days are very easy to maneuver and manufacturers have given as much help through the sections as possible. We are going to take a look at the P5Q Premium BIOS broken down into sections and what each one does.
The Main tab in the American Megatrends BIOS shows some basic information about the system, date and time, and attached storage devices. Under the System Information sub-section the processor type, speed, and amount of system memory can be viewed.
Under the Advanced Tab, we find the settings for Intel's EIST and Virtualization Technology, which can be enabled or disabled. The on-board peripherals, such as the LAN ports, audio codecs and Drive Expert technology can be turned on and off under this sub-section. This is where the support for the TPM (Trusted Platform Module) is enabled or disabled.
This section allows a type of power profile to be set up. In the Hardware Monitoring sub-section, temperatures of the CPU and motherboard can be checked. The voltages available for monitoring include the three rails on the power supply, as well as the CPU Vcore. Fan profiles can be set up with the QFan control; monitoring of the fans can be turned off as well.
Setting the boot priority of the drives installed in the system is done here, and additionally, the configuration of the boot settings. Things such as quick boot, disabling error messages, and disabling the full screen boot logo can be accomplished here.
The Tools tab has a couple of very functional items in it. EZ Flash is a utility that can be used to flash the BIOS. It can be used with a USB flash drive, or you can pull the BIOS file from the hard drive of the computer; not once has this utility failed me. Sorting overclocked profiles makes switching back and forth between maximum performance and everyday performance profiles a breeze - no more guessing if the settings are correct. The Drive Xpert settings controls are stored here for each set of ports. The Express Gate menu can be turn on or off in this section as well.
The AI Tweaker section holds all of the true performance increasing features, so that section gets a more in-depth look.
The BIOS of the ASUS P5Q Premium makes everything so easy. The majority of the values that can be set in the AI Tweaker section are just keyed in. For instance, if you want to set the voltage of your memory on most boards you press Enter and then select the preset values that are there for you. On the P5Q Premium you enter the voltage you want such as 2.10 for the memory voltage and that is what it sets at. The Over Voltage jumpers on the board will allow you to increase the voltages over the caps if needed.
To overclock the ASUS P5Q Premium you must first change the AI Overclock Tuner to "Manual." This will un-hide the options you need to change the front side bus and the multiplier. One note is that if you enter a multiplier that the CPU does not support it will go to the default multiplier for that processor. In this case it would default to 8x.
The memory speeds and timings on the P5Q Premium give you a lot of room to play with. The memory speeds give you presets based on the FSB of the system using straps. The default for the Q9450 started from DDR2-667Mhz and went all the way to DDR2-1200MHz in specified increments. You also have control over just more than the CAS, tRCD, tRP, and tRAS like on most boards. Here you have multiple options to fine tune the memory for the best speeds and performance possible.
As with the options for speed, the voltage options are plentiful. You can control the voltage on more components than just the normal CPU, Memory, and Northbridge voltage found on many other BIOSes. This is important for keeping an overclock as stable as possible with no errors or BSODs.
Now that the BIOS is set up, let's get into the drivers and other software of the ASUS P5Q Premium.
ASUS uses an intuitive interface for its driver and software installation. The menu system is very easy to navigate and the InstALL option allows you to install your drives and programs with the click of a button. The first tab is the drivers section, which installs the necessary drivers for the chipset, drives, TPM module and more. The second tab is the Utilities section, which is where the extra software can be installed from, including the ASUS Update utility, PC Probe II, Express Gate Updater and more.
The last three tabs are the support tabs. Here you have the Make Disk section, which will make RAID driver disks for the ports that are controlled by the ICH10R Southbridge. The manual section has electronic versions of the manual and install guides. Lastly, there is the contact information for you to get support with your motherboard if it is needed.
The AI Suite utility contains many functions and additional utilities in an all-in-one wrapper. From the ability to control fan speeds with the Fan Xpert, to the ability to do some Overclocking with the AI Booster, you get a lot of functionality here - and all from within the Windows environment. The EPU-6 Engine is part of this application, and will be looked at later on in the review.
Asus Update is a tool that is used within Windows to update the BIOS - a handy utility for the uninitiated into the dark art of flashing the BIOS. The Express Gate Updater allows the Express Gate program to be updated. The Sound Max software allows for the fine tuning of the HD sound experience - there are enough features here to get the job done. Asus PC Probe II monitors some of the more critical voltages and temperatures.
Now that everything is installed and set up, let's move on to the testing phase of the review.
Intel Socket 775 Processors for Intel® Core™2 Extreme/Core™2 Quad/ Core™2 Duo/Pentium® Dual-core/Celeron® dual-core /Celeron® Processors
Compatible with Intel® 05B/05A/06 processors
Supports Intel® 45nm multi-core CPU
|Intel P45 / ICH10R with Intel® Fast Memory Access(FMA) support|
Front Side Bus:
4 x DIMM, Max. 16 GB, DDR2 1200/1066/800/667 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture
Please refer to www.asus.com or user manual for Memory QVL.
When installing total memory of 4GB capacity or more, Windows 32-bit operation system may only recognize less than 3GB. Hence, a total installed memory of less than 3GB is recommended.
Support ATI CrossFireX™ technology, up to Quad CrossFireX
|1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot at max. x16 link (blue)
1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot at max. x8 link (white)
2 x PCI Express x16 slot at max. x4 link (black)
1 x PCIe x1
2 x PCI
6 xSATA 3 Gb/s ports Intel® Matrix Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices
Silicon Image Sil5723 (Drive Xpert technology)
4 x SATA 3Gb/s (orange and blue)
Supports EZ Backup and Super Speed functions
Quad Gigabit LAN controllers
Marvell 88E8056® Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET 2, Teaming, and Redundant
ADI® AD2000B 8 -Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Support Jack-Detection, Multi-Streaming, and Front Panel Jack-Retasking
- Coaxial/Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
- ASUS Noise-Filtering
14 USB 2.0 ports (4 ports at mid-board, 10 ports at back panel)
LSI 3227 2 x 1394a ports
ASUS Unique Features:
|ASUS Exclusive Features:
- ASUS 16-Phase Power Design
- Express Gate SSD
ASUS Power Saving Solutions:
- ASUS EPU-6 Engine
- ASUS AI Nap
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solutions:
- ASUS Fanless Design: Heat-pipe solution
- ASUS Fanless Design: Stack Cool 2
- ASUS Fan Xpert
ASUS Crystal Sound:
- AI Audio 2
- ASUS Noise Filtering
ASUS EZ DIY:
- ASUS Drive Xpert
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-Connector
- ASUS AI Direct Link
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
|ASUS AI Booster
Precision Tweaker 2:
- vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.00625V increment
- vDIMM: 64-step DRAM voltage control
- vChipset (NB): 55-step chipset voltage control
- vCPUPLL: 64-step reference voltage control
- vFSB Termination: 40-step voltage control
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
- FSB tuning from 200MHz up to 800MHz at 1MHz increment
- PCI Express frequency tuning from 100MHz up to 180MHz at 1MHz increment
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
ASUS Data Guardian--TPM support
Back Panel I/O Ports:
|1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse combo port
1 x Optical + 1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Output
4 x LAN (RJ45) port
10 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
8-channel Audio I/O
Internal I/O Connectors:
|2 x USB connectors support additional 4 USB ports
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector
1 x COM connector
6 x SATA connectors (red)
4 x Drive Xpert SATA connectors (orange and blue)
1 x CPU Fan connector
3 x Chassis Fan connector
1 x Power Fan connector
2 x IEEE1394a connector
Front panel audio connector
1 x S/PDIF Out Header
Chassis Intrusion connector
CD audio in
24-pin ATX Power connector
8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
Power on Switch
System Panel (Q-Connector)
|16 Mb Flash ROM
SM BIOS 2.4
WOL by PME, WOR by PME, WOR by Ring, Chasis Intrusion, PXE
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
1 x FDD cable
8 x Serial ATA cable
2 x 2-port Serial ATA power cable
1 x eSATA + 1-port 1394 (4-pin) module
1 x TPM module
1 x Q-Shield
1 x User's manual
1 x Optional Fan
1 x 3 in 1 Q-connector (Retail version only)
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS AI Suite
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )
- LGA775 Intel® Core™2 Processor Ready
This motherboard supports the latest Intel® Core™2 processors in LGA775 package. It also can support Intel® 45nm Multi-Core CPU. With new Intel® Core™ microarchitecture technology and 1600/1333/1066/800MHz FSB, Intel® Core™2 processor is one of the most powerful and energy efficient CPU in the world.
- PCIe 2.0
Double Speed; Double Bandwidth
This motherboard supports the latest PCIe 2.0 devices for double speed and bandwidth which enhances system performance.
- Dual-Channel DDR2 1200
The motherboard supports DDR2 memory that features data transfer rates of 1200/1066/800/667 MHz to meet the higher bandwidth requirements of the latest operation system, 3D graphics, multimedia, and Internet applications. The dual-channel DDR2 architecture doubles the bandwidth of your system memory to boost system performance, eliminating bottlenecks with peak bandwidths of up to 19.2GB/s.
- Quad VGA Cards Support
- Maximum graphics capability - Up to Quad VGA cards support
- 2 slots thermal design
- ASUS True 16-Phase Power Design (Quad Quad-Phase Power Design)
Unprecedented Innovation with the best quality component for best performance
The breakthrough technology of 16-phase VRM design is bringing to the ASUS motherboards. 16-phase power design can reach the power efficiency up to 96%+, and dispel heat generated by VRM module effectively, and lower temperature compared to other VRM solution. With all Japan-made best quality power components such as low RDS (on) MOSFETs, Ferrite core chokes with lower hysteresis loss, and high quality conductive polymer capacitors, ASUS 16-phase VRM design also ensure longer component life, minimum power loss, and help to reach the superior overclocking score ever than before
- Quad Hardware RAID Ports
- 2x2 Hardware RAID ports for RAID 0, 1
- Automatically real-time backup
- 4x faster hard drive transfers
- No driver & BIOS setup needed, just use friendly GUI to configure
- Quad Gigabit LAN
Teaming function - by grouping four network connections together as one single connection, the bandwidth is four times faster up to 4Gb
Redundant function - when one link fails, the other three links will continue working to keep network connected
To be a home gateway and game server at the same time!
- Quad Security
(1) Electrostatic Discharge Protection (ESD):
ESD protection devices divert a potentially damaging charge away from sensitive circuitry
(2) Overcurrent Protection:
Installed polyswitch as fuses to prevent excessive or dangerous temperature rise in conductors
(3) ASUS Data Guardian (TPM)
Double protection—Hardware module + Software keys
Create a virtual folder that is protected by an encryption key
(4) Anti-virus software bundled
Bundle Norton Internet Security anti-virus application
*The bundled software is 90 days trial version
- Quad CrossFire Support
ATI´s CrossFireX boosts image quality along with rendering speed, eliminating the need to scale down screen resolutions to get the high image quality you want. CrossFire ignites with the higher antialiasing, anisotropic filtering, shading, and texture settings you desire. Adjust your display configurations, experiment with your advanced 3D settings, and check the effect with a real-time 3D-rendered preview within ATI´s Catalyst™ Control Center to rule your CrossFireX system.
- Quad-Core CPU Support
Supports Intel® Core™ 2 Quad processors with FSB up to 1600 MHz
- Quad BIOS Backup
3 BIOS duplicates + 1 original BIOS
Allowed BIOS recovery through support DVD, USB flash, or hard disk
- ASUS Express Gate SSD
5 Secs Bootup to online
Taking only 5 seconds to go online from bootup, Express Gate is the one-stop gateway to instant fun! It´s a unique motherboard built-in OS. You can utilize the most popular Instant Messengers (IM) like MSN, Skype, Google talk, QQ, and Yahoo! Messenger to keep in touch with friends, or quickly check on the weather and e-mails just before leaving your house. What´s more, the user-friendly picture manager lets you view your pictures without entering Windows at anytime!
* The actual boot time is subject to hardware configurations and product models
- Best Quality Power Components
100% High-quality Japan-made Conductive Polymer Capacitors!(5000 hrs VRM)
Low RDS (on) MOSFETs with min. switching loss & lower temperature, Ferrite Core chokes with lower hysteresis loss, and 100% Japan-made high quality, long life conductive
- ASUS EPU-6 Engine
System Level Energy Saving
The new ASUS EPU - the world´s first power saving engine, has been upgraded to a new 6 engine version, which provides total system power savings by detecting current PC loadings and intelligently moderating power in real-time. With auto phase switching for components (which includes the CPU, VGA card, memory, chipset, hard drives and CPU cooler/system fans), the EPU automatically provides the most appropriate power usage via intelligent acceleration and overclocking - helping save power and money.
- AI Nap
Minimize noise and power consumption when temporarily away!
With AI Nap, users can instantly snooze your PC without terminating the tasks. System will continue operating at minimum power and noise when user is temporarily away. It keeps downloading files or running applications in quietest state while you´re sleeping. Simply click keyboard or mouse, you can swiftly wake up the system in few seconds.
- Up to 20°C(36°F) Cooler - Stack Cool 2
Effective Fanless Heat Dissipation at 0dB
Stack Cool 2 is a fanless cooling solution offered exclusively by ASUS. It effectively and noiselessly transfers heat generated by the critical components to the other side of the specially designed PCB (printed circuit board) for effective heat dissipation - making temperatures cooler by up to 20°C.
- Aesthetic Heat-pipe
Lowers Temperatures by up to 10°C
The aesthetic heat-pipe design effectively directs the heat generated by the chipsets to the heatsink near the back I/O ports - where it can be carried away by existing airflows from the CPU or a bundled optional fan. This innovative and groundbreaking fanless heat pipe design effectively lowers temperatures by up to 10°C without having lifetime problems that a normal chipset fan has. Furthermore, it provides options for users to install side-flow fans or a passive cooler. This Heat Pipe design is the most reliable fanless thermal solution to date.
- Fan Xpert
Active Quiet & Cool
ASUS Fan Xpert intelligently allows users to adjust both the CPU and chassis fan speed according to different ambient temperature , which is caused by different climate conditions in different geographic regions and system loading.Built-in variety of useful profiles offer flexible controls of fan speed to achieve a quiet and cool environment.
- Drive Xpert
Plug & Safe!
Without drivers or BIOS setups, the ASUS exclusive Drive Xpert is ideal for anyone who needs to secure data on their hard drives or enhance hard drive performances without the hassles of complicated configurations. With Drive Xpert´s user-friendly graphical user interface, users can easily arrange hard drive backups or enhance their hard drive transfer rates - making sure that data is looked after every moment, every day.
- CrashFree BIOS 3
Simply restore corrupted BIOS data from USB flash disk
The ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3 allows users to restore corrupted BIOS data from a USB flash disk containing the BIOS file. This utility saves users the cost and hassle of buying a replacement BIOS chip.
Easy and Comfortable Installations
The specially designed ASUS Q-Shield does without the usual "fingers" - making it convenient and easy to install. With better electric conductivity, it ideally protects your motherboard against static electricity and shields it against Electronic Magnetic Interference (EMI).
Make connection quick and accurate!
The ASUS Q-Connector allows you to connect or disconnect chassis front panel cables in one easy step with one complete module. This unique adapter eliminates the trouble of plugging in one cable at a time, making connection quick and accurate.
- EZ-Flash 2
Simply update BIOS from a USB flash disk before entering the OS
EZ Flash 2 is a user-friendly BIOS update utility. Simply launch this tool and update BIOS from a USB flash disk before entering the OS. You can update your BIOS only in a few clicks without preparing an additional floppy diskette or using an OS-based flash utility.
- O.C. Profile
Conveniently store or load multiple BIOS settings
Freely share and distribute favorite overclocking settings The motherboard features the ASUS O.C. Profile that allows users to conveniently store or load multiple BIOS settings. The BIOS settings can be stored in the CMOS or a separate file, giving users freedom to share and distribute their favorite overclocking settings.
Personalize your system with customizable boot logo
You can convert your favorite photo into a 256-color boot logo for a more colorful and vivid image on your screen.
The motherboard and its packaging comply with the European Union´s Restriction on the use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS). This is in line with the ASUS vision of creating environment-friendly and recyclable products and packaging to safeguard consumers´ health while minimizing the impact on the environment.
To test the ASUS P5Q Premium, I will be putting the motherboard through a series of intensive video and scientific benchmarks that will stress the board and push it to its limits to see where it stands and how well it performs. I will then place it up against other well known motherboards with similar and competing chipsets to see how the P5Q Premium stands up against the competition. To keep any variables from intefering with the numbers, all hardware will be run at stock speeds, timings, and voltages unless otherwise noted. This will give the ASUS P5Q Premium a fair run against the other boards for comparison reasons.
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad 9450 @ 333 x 8
- Motherboard: ASUS P5Q Premium
- Memory: Mushkin Redline XP2 8000 2 x 2 GB 5-5-5-12
- Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 4850 w/ Catalyst 8.8
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800w Modular Power Supply
Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 7200.11 750GB SATA w/32MB Cache
- Optical Drive: LG 16x DVD+/-RW
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
- Comparison Motherboard 1: Gigabyte EP-45 Extreme
- Comparison Motherboard 2: ECS P45T-A
- Comparison Motherboard 3: ASUS P5QL-E
- Comparison Motherboard 4: Gigabyte GA-X48-DQ6
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 @ 460x8 = 3.680GHz
- System Memory: Mushkin Redline XP2 8000 2 x 2 GB @ 5-5-5-12 / 920MHz
Overclocking the ASUS P5 Premium was a breeze. For starters, all I did was adjust the CPU VCore and the memory voltage and lower the memory strap to keep under the 1000MHz memory speed and started to up the Front Side Bus little by little until the system would become unstable or not boot. With each 5Mhz raise of the FSB I would run MEMTEST 2.0 until errors started to appear. Then I backed it down to where there were no errors and booted into Windows. I then ran benchmarks to test stability and again would drop the FSB by 5MHz increments until I could boot, run and pass all of the benchmarks with no errors. With a 1.45v VCore I was able to push the Q9450 CPU to 460MHz from the stock 2.66GHz to obtain 3.680GHz stable. That is a 1000MHz increase over stock just by raising only the VCore and tweaking the minor voltages. While everyone will never get the same results on various systems, I am very please with this boost in "free" performance.
- Scientific & Data:
- SPECviewperf 10
- PCMark Vantage Professional
- SiSoft Sandra XII
- ScienceMark 2.02 Final
- CineBench 10
- HD Tune 2.55
- Knights of the Sea
- Call of Duty 4
- World in Conflict
- Call of Juarez
- Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
- 3DMark 06 Professional
First up are the system specific benchmarks that will test overall scientific performance. For the science tests, only the scores with the 8800GT are shown to make the direct comparison to the other boards with the same setup.
To get things stated, I will begin with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:
- Resolution: 2750x2048
- Quality: 500
- Limit Memory Use: 512MB
The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.
WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 10MB, 100MB, and 500MB files, as well as test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds.
In Apophysis the P5Q was the fastest of the P45 boards, however in the WinRar tests it was about half and half.
SPECviewperf 10 is a benchmark designed to test OpenGL performance. I will be using the multi-threaded tests to measure the performance when run in this mode. The tests used for comparison are listed below. The default multi-threaded tests were chosen to be able to compare across platforms. In these tests, higher scores equate to better performance.
PCMark Vantage is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual board to see which board, if any, rises above the others.
For the Specview tests the P5Q was in the middle of the other boards, winning some and losing some. It was slightly faster than the other P45 boards in PCMark but still behind the X48 board.
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 areas of the motherboards.
Cache and Memory
Power Management Efficiency
The P5Q was dead even in most of the benches but did take over in the memory tests.
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.
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.
HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.
In Sciencemark the P5Q Premium stormed the other boards in its class. Cinebench had the same results as it beat the other P45 boards in the multi-core test. In the HDTune test the ASUS P45 board came in last compared to the rest.
Crysis has been out for quite some time now. In that time, there has yet to be a single or multi-GPU setup that can fully showcase the graphics performance of the game. The Crysis single player demo includes both CPU and GPU benchmarks to test the performance of your processor and video card.
- Anti-Aliasing: x2
- Advanced settings to high
The ASUS P5Q Premium held on all the way until the end in the Crysis test. If not taking the top spot in the testing it did finish right alongside the X48 DQ6.
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new DX10 title that features its own proprietary graphics engine currently in development. The game is a combination of Real Time Strategy and Simulation. You have the ability to control the entire crew or just a single member. Play as the German, Russian or Allied navies, and prove your mettle on the open seas.
- Anti-Aliasing: x0
- Image Quality: High
- DirectX Version: 10
- All resolutions: 60Hz
The P5Q Premium kept the lead over the other P45 boards by a nose and even kept up with the X48 board.
BioShock is one of the creepier games out in the wild, chronicling the building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong - its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory, with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left, while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddies." It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This First Person Shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played. The environment as well as the story line will wrap you up for hours on end.
- All settings to maximum
- V-Sync: Off
In Bioshock the P5Q ran strong with the P45 chipsets but was taken over by the X48 based board.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the successor to the Call of Duty crown. This iteration of the game is fought in many of the world's hot spots with modern armaments and firepower. You can play as either a US Marine or British SAS trooper. Since this game does not feature an in-game test, I will run through a section of the game and measure average FPS using Fraps 2.9.3.
- Anti-Aliasing: x4
- Anisotropic Filtering: Max
- Texture Quality: Extra
- All settings max
The P5Q ran the fastest of the P45 boards and the X48 chipset until the last resolution.
World in Conflict is a DX10, Real Time Strategy game that simulates the all-out war the world hopes never comes. The difference in this RTS game is that it is not the typical "generate wealth and build" type of game. Instead, you advance by conquering your foe.
- Anti-Aliasing: x4
- Anisotropic Filtering: x16
- Graphic Detail: Very High
The P5Q fell in the top two in each resolution run during the World in Conflict testing.
Call of Juarez is a DX10, First Person Shooter set in the Wild West of the late 1800's. The game is inspired, in part, by the movies of the Wild West genre of the seventies and eighties. The game can be played as both single player and multiplayer. The game focuses on realistic graphics and gameplay designed to take advantage of the latest video cards on the market.
- Details: High
- Shadowmap Size: 2048x2048
- Shadow Quality: Normal
- Anti-Aliasing: MSAA 4X
The P5Q was crushed half of the time in the Call of Juarez tests by both the other P45 and the X48 boards.
Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts is the latest chapter in the Company of Heroes series. The scene is WWII. The mission is Operation Market Garden, the first Allied attempt to break into the Third Reich. Play as the British or Germans. This Real Time Strategy game is brought to us by Relic Entertainment.
- Anti-Aliasing: x8
- All other settings to maximum
The P5Q either matched or surpassed each board in this testing lineup.
3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is begun. 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.
- SM2.0 Graphics Tests: GT1- Return to Proxycon, GT2- Firefly Forest
- CPU Tests: Cpu1- Red Valley, CPU2- Red Valley
- HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Tests: HDR1- Canyon Flight, HDR2- Deep Freeze
The numbers here averaged out across the board within negligible tolerance.
ASUS has added some really special features that makes the P5Q Premium stand out among the competition. These features add power saving features and operating enhancements. I am going to take a close look at them so that you can see how far they went in making this motherboard.
ASUS 6-Engine EPU:
The newest thing among motherboard manufacturers is now designing boards to be more energy efficient and to be "green," which means they are better for the environment by not wasting resources such as electricity. To combat this waste of energy ASUS has designed the 6-Engine EPU. This is designed with an EPU chip on the board combined with the 6-Engine software which interact together to lower energy consumption and waste while reducing CO2 emissions. Dubbed the "Complete System Power Saving Solution" the EPU engine allows you to choose operating levels based on your computing needs while doing your part for the environment.
The options available for the 6-Engine system are Auto, Turbo (where everything is maxed out for speed and lttle energy conservation), High Performance (which is similar to the turbo mode with a little emphasis on power features), Medium (which adds more energy saving settings and a little sacrifice on the performance) and finally the Maximum Power Saving mode (which throttles down the system and voltages to reduce energy consumption at the price of performance loss).
To test the EPU 6-Engine I let the system sit idle for 30 minutes in High Performance mode and recorded the data. Then I switched it to Maximum Power Saving mode and recorded the data there. There was a difference of about 2.3 watts between the performance mode and power saving mode, which is a start but how well would it work under full load?
Again, I placed a full load on the system running programs and benchmarks for a bit to show the computer under pressure. Again, I recorded the data this time in Auto mode and Max Power Saving mode to see how well the system compensated for performance and energy. This time there was about a ten watt difference just for those few minutes of testing. Take those ten watts over a period of time and you are doing your part to be "green."
So what does this mean for your system as a whole? To figure that out I repeated the idle and load tests and measured the total wattage of the system for each setting while at idle and at loads.
ASUS Express Gate SSD:
The Express Gate SSD is a stripped down operating system based off of Linux that allows you to complete several tasks without booting into the main operating system on the hard disk. You can boot into the Express Gate SSD in about five seconds and get on the Internet without having to start up the computer and wait for Windows to load. In addition to the Internet you can also view photos on your drives, chat on instant messenger or talk on Skype.
Enhanced Security Features:
ASUS has included the TPM (Trusted Platform Module) to help secure your system from prying eyes or having your data stolen. The TPM included is from Infineon and the module allows you to store your passwords and encrypt your data on your hard drives so that it cannot be read without your access keys and the TPM installed on the computer trying to read the data. Also, the BIOS must support the TPM for all of this to work in the first place. Sort of like a three step process of securing your information. Once activated in the BIOS you have to install the TPM software by Infineon and away you go with your secure data and encrypted passwords.
With a wealth of features and the performance to match, this board is definitely a high end specimen. Sure, it might not be as fast as the X48 board in some of the benchmarks, but how noticeable is it really, unless your whole system is designed for numbers on your benchmarks and that is it. Among the other P45 boards, the numbers were pretty even for the most part with the P5Q Premium even taking the lead at some points. Overclocking this board was very easy to do thanks to all of the tools and options that ASUS has made available to get the most out of your hardware. I was able to get over a gigahertz overclock with only a voltage increase and some memory tweaking. The overclocked scores I think speak for themselves with the added performance that I was able to get by pushing the system. The energy saving feature worked quite well, dropping my system down by about thirty watts under full load. Take that and compare it with your electricity bill and cha ching, the board can almost pay for itself with the savings on your utilities. In addition to the standard features, the added ones are killer. I mean come on, ten USB 2.0 ports and ten SATA ports along with Express Gate and the TPM added, you definitely get your money's worth with the ASUS P5Q Premium.
I do not have anything negative to say about the ASUS P5Q Premium motherboard. It performed solidly at stock speeds and shined when it was overclocked. It comes with an abundant number of features, paired with a lot of accessories to help you get the most out of your computing experience. I absolutely love the Express Gate SSD feature, allowing me to check my email without having to wait for the computer to fully boot up is a dream, along with knowing that my data is safe with the Trusted Platform Module. Whether you are looking to upgrade to newer technology or are building a new computer from the ground up, I would highly recommend you putting the ASUS P5Q Premium on your P45 list.
- Overclocking potential
- Express Gate SSD
- Trusted Platform Module included
- Power Efficient EPU 6-Engine
- Overall performance