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ASUS P5E3 Premium X48 Motherboard Review

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3oh6

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System Benchmarks

System Benchmarks



SuperPi Mod v1.5<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>When running the 32M benchmark of SPi, we are calculating Pi to 32 million digits and timing the process. Obviously more CPU power helps in this intense calculation, but the memory sub-system also plays an important role, as does the operating system. SPi 32M has been a favorite amongst benchmarks for these very reasons and is admittedly the favorite benchmark of this reviewer.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/p5e3-premium/bench-4.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The reason we still like to show SuperPi performance is that it is a favorite benchmark of the enthusiasts still and has a cult following, but it also shows the strength of the memory subsystem. As already explained, however, our systems don't really have a lot of difference in that memory world with the FSB and memory frequencies being very similar...yet we still see a huge difference in performance. This is the kick off to the benchmarks that show, when all things are equal, CPU frequency still wins every fight.</p>
PCMark Vantage<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>The latest iteration of the popular system benchmark is PCMark Vantage from the Futuremark crew. The PCMark series has always been a great way to either test specific areas of a system or to get a general over view of how your system is performing. For our results, we simply run the basic benchmark suite which involves a wide range of tests on all of the sub-systems of the computer.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/p5e3-premium/bench-5.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">As we just witnessed in SPi 32M, PCMark Vantage running the default test, is nights and days ahead of the default XMP settings. Higher CPU frequency helps with all tasks that PCMark tests for so naturally a substantial increase in performance is there,; over 25% to be exact. With CPU clocks just over %30 higher and performance just over %25 higher, the casual factor for the performance increase is obvious.</p>
Cinebench R10<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Another benchmarking community favorite, Cinebench renders an intense 2D scene relying on all the processing power it can. Cinebench R10 is another 64-bit capable application and is likely the most efficient program tested today at utilizing all cores of a processor. We will be running both the single threaded and multi-threaded benches here today.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/p5e3-premium/bench-6.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Speaking of CPU power, Cinebench is the favorite benchmark for overclockers to measure and compare CPU processing power with. Naturally that makes it the obvious choice for us and this comparison considering the premier system difference between our XMP settings and overclocked settings is CPU frequency. Like the PCMark result, the Cinebench numbers equate to a %30 increase in performance in the single CPU test and a solid %23 gain in the multi-threaded benchmark.</p>
DivX Converter v6<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Moving from some of the more 'synthetic' benchmarks, we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a VOB to DivX encoding task. We will take a VOB rip of the movie Rounders, and convert it into DivX using the default 720P setting of DivX converter v6. This is a real life test of a task that may be routinely seen these days.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/p5e3-premium/bench-7.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">As mentioned, we are now entering the 'real world benchmarks' section of today’s program. We start off with the time consuming task of converting a ripped DVD to a useable format on the computer. The home multi-media center is no longer a shelf of DVDs, it is centered around a music server and a huge chunk of digital data and all that data must come from the DVDs you purchase and converted into useable data. The above difference is about an 18% decreases in time required to encode this movie to 720P with the DivX CODEC. That is a savings of over 11 minutes off a 64 minute task...you do the math on your entire DVD collection.</p>
Lame Front End<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Un-like the DivX conversion we just looked at, Lame Front End is not multi-threaded and only utilizes a single core of a processor. This will obviously limit performance but we should still recognize significant time savings going from the stock settings to the overclocked results. We will be encoding a WAV rip of the Blackalicious album, Blazing Arrow and converting it to MP3 using the VBR 0 quality preset.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/p5e3-premium/bench-8.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">As with movies, music too is now primarily stored in a digital medium yet the old business model of selling CDs remains, which results in time required for the end user to convert the data into a digital format that is useable and efficient. Unfortunately the current and long time best encoder of audio is LAME and LAME only uses a single thread. So needless to say, LameFrontEnd, is only going to be running a single thread for the conversion from WAV to MP3. Again, another solid 20% decrease in time needed to complete the task is found; %23 to be exact going from the default XMP profile to the highest clocks we were able to achieve. All of this performance increase is due mainly to the increase in CPU frequency and most noticeable in the real world benchmarks.</p>
Photoshop CS3<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Adobe Photoshop CS3 is full x64 compliant and ready and able to use every single CPU cycle our processor has available. Since digital photography is as popular as roller skates were in the 70's, we are going to be timing how long it takes to convert 100 RAW images from a Canon 20D into half size JPG files of maximum quality.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/p5e3-premium/bench-9.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The last of our 'daily digital conversion benchmark' session is the Photoshop conversion of large RAW images to minable JPG files for viewing on the computer or internet. We see only an 18% increase in performance here and this is likely due to a bottleneck in the system that doesn't fully let the CPU flex its processing power. Perhaps memory or hard drive BUSes are being saturated during this task and thus providing less enthusiastic results as the other benchmarks we just looked at.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Memory Benchmarks

Memory Benchmarks



Everest Ultimate v4.50<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Everest Ultimate is the most useful tool for any and all bench markers or overclockers. With the ability to read most voltage, temperature, and fan sensors on almost every motherboard available, Everest provides the ability to customize the outputs in a number of forms for display on your desktop. In addition to this, the memory benchmarking provides a useful tool of measuring the changes to your memory sub-system when tweaking to measure the differences.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/p5e3-premium/bench-1.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">In reviews past, both motherboard and memory, the Everest results always show a large gap. With these two setups, they are very similar despite the differences in the CPU clocks. The reason being that CPU frequency plays very little role in Everest bandwidth numbers and the slight difference in memory frequencies is giving the result discrepancy. Because of the great performance of the system at BIOS defaults with the Corsair Dominator XMP memory, there really isn't much difference between 'stock' and our overclocked setup when your remove the CPU frequency from the equation.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/p5e3-premium/bench-2.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">This again holds true for the latency results with a slight drop in the overclocked setup is a result from the higher FSB and memory frequency. The drop is significant but nothing too crazy.</p>


ScienceMark v2<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>ScienceMark is an almost ancient benchmark utility at this point in time and hasn't seen an update in a long time. It is, however, still a favorite for accurately calculating bandwidth on even the newest chipsets.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/p5e3-premium/bench-3.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Much like the playbill had laid out, the ScienceMark numbers back up what Everest found in the memory bandwidth department. What we have seen today is the evolution of memory binning. The rated frequencies and timings of DDR3 memory we can buy today are quite scary, and nothing more than clearing the CMOS and installing the sticks is required to get them running at those ratings. This all equates to not much headroom for the rest of the system since FSB on x48 platforms already needs to be at 450MHz in order to run memory at DDR3-1800 like this Corsair memory is rated for.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Gaming Benchmarks

Gaming Benchmarks



Futuremark 3DMark 06<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>We had to bypass 3DMark Vantage for this review because it didn't want to play nicely with the HD3870X2 we used for this review. Honestly, I am not a fan of Vantage at this point as it has just caused headaches for me up until now. Needless to say, 3DMark 06 is still a very viable tool for testing a systems performance.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/p5e3-premium/bench-10.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Still no love for Vantage here but 3DMark 06 will always get a play, and boy does it like the processor performance of this setup giving a 20% in score. Obviously the extra CPU power eliminates the GPU bottleneck and really lets the HD38070X2 stretch its wings in 06. Normally the CPU score only equates to a small percentage of the overall score but higher CPU frequency also means higher 3D benchmark results and that is obvious in these results.</p>
Company of Heroes - In-Game benchmark<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Having very little to do with the actual game play, the Company of Heroes in-game benchmark is a very consistent way to test 3D performance of a system. All detail levels are maxed out and the resolution was set to the very popular 1680x1050. These settings are quite common but a hefty video card will be needed in order to not be the bottleneck at these settings.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/p5e3-premium/bench-11.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">In the past motherboard reviews we used the CoH in-game benchmark and found very little difference in the results between stock and the overclocked settings. The same holds true again today as it clearly appears that CoH is limited by the GPU...at least in the in-game benchmark. Actual game play is a different story but we won't get into that here. Let's now move on to a new game in the motherboard reviews here at HWC, UT3.</p>
UT3<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Like Company of Heroes, detail levels are all maxed and the resolution set to 1680x1050 or what would be considered the playable settings for this configuration. We use a benchmarking utility to derive results from UT3 using a simulated 12 bot match on the Shangri-La level for 3 minutes. This is run 10 times with the results averaged out. There is some variance in the results of UT3, that is why the additional runs.

Unreal Tournament games in the past have always shown performance gains with system speed and were not just limited to the GPU like most of what we see today. UT3 is no different and this should result in a bit of variance between our setups.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/p5e3-premium/bench-12.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">With the bump in CPU frequency, we actually gained a nice little boost in performance in UT3. On all three levels, minimum FPS, maximum FPS and average FPS, the gains were evident and easily noticeable. We are only looking at an 11% increase in average frame rates but that is really giving you overhead with a higher GPU. The UT3 benchmarking utility we utilize does have quite a bit of variance from run to run, but we did 10 runs of this benchmark and average them out for the results to ensure a fairly accurate portrayal of the type of results in-game we may find.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Voltage Regulation

Voltage Regulation


<p style="text-align: justify;">The Voltage Regulation section is where we examine the voltages being supplied by the motherboard, how close they are to what we select, and if there is anything unusual about the voltage regulation on the motherboard. Today we will be taking a quick look at the vCORE, vDIMM, and vNB regulation. As we are well aware of at this point, the P5E3-Premium does not have a lot of voltage readings for the BIOS so there will be even fewer readings in Windows. That is why we will be looking at only the three components, because we have found accurate voltage read points. Here are the read points that we will be using. Ground for all read points was the ground pin on a fan header at the bottom edge of the board.</p><center>
voltage-1.jpg
voltage-2.jpg


voltage-3.jpg
<p style="text-align: justify;">The leads on the underside of the motherboard that come from capacitors and inductors are usually very close to what is being supplied to a specific component on the motherboard. The first image is of the vCORE read point where we measured from both the inductor and the capacitor. The capacitor reading was always 0.002v less than the inductor and the lower value was used. The circled capacitor lead was used for measuring the voltage for the north bridge in the second photo. In the last photo, we show the pin that is read from for vDIMM voltage readings. As it turns out, there are a few surface mount capacitors in-between the DIMM slots that provide a completely accurate reading of vDIMM as well. Let's now take a look at the voltage chart and what this motherboard supplies versus what is selected in the BIOS.</p><center><table border="0" bgcolor="#666666" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" width="735px"><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="105px"> </td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="105px"><b>BIOS Set</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="105px"><b>BIOS Report</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="105px"><b>PC Probe II<br />Idle</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="105px"><b>PC Probe II<br />Load</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="105px"><b>DMM<br />Idle</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="105px"><b>DMM<br />Load</b></td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">vCORE<br>(Auto)</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.36875v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.328v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.33v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.31v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.332v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.312v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">vCORE<br>(Normal)</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.36875v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.328v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.33v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.31v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.332v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.312v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">vCORE<br>(Perf.)</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.325v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.312v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.30v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.31v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.304v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.304v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">vDIMM</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.96v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.996v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.987v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">vNB</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.51v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.530v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="105px">1.530v</td></tr></table></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The distinct lack of voltages being reported on is testament to how little the P5E3-Premium offers in response to the question, what is the voltage? We are provided with nothing more than a vCORE reading in the BIOS to go along with the CPU temperature and random motherboard sensor reading. No vNB, no vDIMM, no other voltages or temperatures are made available to users and that just doesn't seem right. When providing users the ability to adjust voltages to the ranges offered with this motherboard, providing BIOS voltage readings is an almost must. If for nothing more than another safety precaution, BIOS voltage readings as well as NB and SB temperature sensors.

On the recently reviewed Rampage Formula, every voltage and temperature reading you could think of was reported in the BIOS and therefore picked up in Windows by software. That is the ASUS flagship DDR2 board, and this is supposed to be the flagship DDR3 board for the X48 chipset...so why the lack of info? Either way, the voltages we were able to measure appear to be very close to what is being set in the BIOS. vCORE does drop a little from what is set but the differences are predictable and working with or without the Performance mode for vCORE is very easy. The rest of the voltages we measured were pretty close to bang on and vDIMM supplied slightly more than selected throughout the voltage range. This is no surprise but the difference is very small so we would consider it to be accurate. Here now are the vCORE charts for both Normal, and Performance, options for Load-Line Calibration.

vCORE w/Load-Line Calibration - Normal
voltage-4.png


vCORE w/Load-Line Calibration - Performance
voltage-5.png

The difference between Load-Line Calibration on Normal and Performance is pretty obvious in the two charts above. As advertised, Performance completely eliminates any voltage drooping under load. It actually flirted with a slight increase in voltage when the system was put under load. With Load-Line Calibration disabled, the standard droop for a dual core processor is evident but repeatable and predictable which makes it very manageable. There is some debate on whether vDROOP is a good thing, bad thing, or makes no difference in the life of the processor. That is not being debated here, we simply want to show the effects of this option as it is always asked in motherboard discussions.</p>
 
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3oh6

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EPU - Just Reporting On What It Does

EPU - Just Reporting On What It Does


<p style="text-align: justify;">There has been a lot of media discussion being made about power saving by un-named manufacturers and we have decided that we didn't want to get involved in what EPU was, instead, report on what it resulted in. Through simple testing we will explain the basic functions of the AI Gear 3 software that triggers the EPU power saving features. In order to control or view what can be manipulated, we have to install the software that not only controls but reports on what the system is running. We will then compare with CPU-Z and/or other software and come to a conclusion on what is occurring during the various states.</p><center>
epu-1.png
epu-2.png
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">Initially we had no luck with the AI Gear 3 software with Windows XP when we tried installing off the CD but after in Vista, we managed to download AI Gear 3 from the ASUS web site and everything seemed to install fine, although AI Gear 3 didn't really report anything until after a few reboots. Checking the power mode controls, we were happy to find them working fine, and the system responding accordingly. So despite AI Gear 3 not reporting or really working initially, we still have the ability to see what this EPU really manipulated with the system. First, we wanted to see how it responded to XMP memory being installed so we rebooted to BIOS defaults with our XMP Corsair Dominator.</p><center>
epu-3.png
epu-4.png
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">Essentially, AI Gear Knows the system is being manually controlled and stays out of its way without even loading the reporting software for the AI Gear 3 mode. This is a very positive sign that the software is still well aware of what we are doing and keeps to itself when it thinks we want it to, now, will it be able to take over if we pretend we want it to? In the second screenshot, we have setup the BIOS in the AUTO settings keeping XMP out of the equation and letting AI Gear 3 complete control over the system. A couple of the secondary voltages were adjusted manually as we don't agree with the AUTO chosen voltages sometimes. As we can see through CPU-Z & Everest, at idle, the system drops the CPU multi, FSB, and vCORE when dropping through the various modes in order to save energy. Let’s now see how a few basic tests with a UPM EM100 energy meter come up with as far as the various modes under load and at idle. The system used for benchmarking and overclocking was used in the Vista Ultimate x64 environment.</p><center>
epu-5.png
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">Right away we have to confess the results are skewed because with the AI Gear 3+ software, under load on the calibrated AUTO setting, we actually get a small overclock to 350*9 where as with the manual configured 333*9 stays there under load. So really, the EPU is now using more power...but you are getting a free performance increase. We initially did have issues with this feature and after a BIOS result and defaults reloaded we were able to manipulate the BIOS to disregard the XMP profile and run AUTO settings.</p></p><center>
epu-6.png
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">At idle, the results are more of what we would suspect based on the changes that happened to the system frequencies and voltages at idle. As noted, under load, the AI Gear software reported the EPU running the system above spec, but at idle, it would drop FSB below spec to 299 and the CPU multiplier to 6X as well as vCORE 0.15v to a dramatically low 0.928v. Without the EPU driver and software installed, the System still drops the multi to 6X so the frequency drops at idle, but the FSB stays at 333MHz and the vCORE remains at about 1.072v which is still low in its own respect so there is little difference between the two AUTO states over a couple hours so over months it will eventually add up, how much though is something a long term study might be able to figure out.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Heat & Acoustical Testing

Heat & Acoustical Testing


<p style="text-align: justify;">This is the second motherboard in a row that has made a liar out of the title of this section. There of course will be temperature testing of the motherboards standard cooling, but like the ASUS Rampage Formula, it is impossible to test the acoustics of something that doesn't make any noise. Obviously the chipset cooling that comes mounted on this motherboard is passive and therefore silent. So in a sense, I guess our acoustical testing could involve confirming there are no hidden fans that are making any noise when in operation...consider the acoustical testing complete with an A+ then.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/p5e3-premium/heat-1.jpg"></center><p style="text-align: justify;">
Moving on to temperature testing, again, our beef with the lack of any temperature sensors on this board comes up. It is impossible to accurately measure the chipset when ASUS has denied us access to the reading. As it has been mentioned numerous times, this lack of voltage and temperature readings on a motherboard of this caliber and price is completely un-acceptable. This is especially true when the voltage options available to us for key components are so high. ASUS needs to seriously re-consider this aspect of future versions of high-end motherboards.

So in the end, there is no actual testing in this section but we can say that the chipset cooling seems to perform quite well on the P5E3-Premium, and it should, there is enough of it. Personally, the heatpipe roller coaster theme park is not something I appreciate on a motherboard but it is how things are now so it has to be accepted. This particular setup seems strong though because we had no problem running stable with north bridge voltages set in excess of 1.75v, which is very high and a testament to the cooling being more than adequate for extreme overclocking with a bit of help from a fan.</p>
 
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Long Term Impressions

Long Term Impressions



ExpressGate

<p style="text-align: justify;">What can you say...this should have been an option on motherboards sooner. Just a few more applications, a little refining, and a touch of polishing; ExpressGate could be quite the useful tool for all of us.

There are going to be a few different schools of thought on this 'ExpressGate' feature of the ASUS motherboards. There are general users that might try it a couple times, think its cool, and never likely use it again or forget about it. There are also going to be the uber geeks who start a forum because they only use ExpressGate as their OS. Okay, so maybe not that extreme but the idea behind the feature sure does open some possibilities.

Think about it from an overclocking perspective. Port a version of Prime 95, SPi 32M (for my personal choice) and some form of memory test like HCI, maybe even OCCT. Throw in a screenshot capture program and call it a night. If you want to get really fancy, you can have system monitoring as an added touch. Then there is the pushing the envelope stage. What about software loaded in ExpressGate to allow say, memory manufacturers to upload a 'BIOS Profile' to the machine which can then be accessed through the easy update within the BIOS. This would allow tremendous troubleshooting capabilities and once a perfect BIOS version and profile were found for a kit of memory for each motherboard, it would be an easy starting point for trouble shooting.

Hopefully ASUS develops this potential feature and ensures it be used to its full potential. Let's have a quick look at what is currently offered with ASUS ExpressGate.</p><center>
gate-1.jpg
gate-2.jpg
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">The interface is very easy to understand and intuitive for Windows users. I would imagine it would be as intuitive for Mac users as well. The 'desktop' is not much un-like Windows with just a dock that we can launch applications from which include an Internet Browser, Skype, and then some options and settings. The first option of importance is the resolution options available. From 800x600 up to 1440x1050 are what we have but another option up to the very popular 1680x1050 would be a welcome sight.</p><center>
gate-3.jpg
gate-4.jpg
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">The rest of the options in the Configuration Panel are very straight forward including the network setup. If you are just on a Dynamic DHCP setup with a cable or DSL connection with a router, then you will likely automatically connect. For those of use on manually configured environments, getting connected upon first boot was a breeze and took only a couple seconds knowing the network connection settings.

All options are saved and can be reset at anytime from within the Configuration Panel in ExpressGate or in the BIOS. There were a couple issues with ExpressGate, the most important was that it didn't work until the 0401 BIOS. We almost gave up on it but trying the latest BIOS got it working rather well aside from a couple weird hang-ups that could have been more a cause of a bad overclock than anything else.

As mentioned though, we felt that the ExpressGate feature might be the start of a very nice feature for a smaller segment of the market with some effort on the part of ASUS but even still, ExpressGate is an interesting step in the motherboard evolution and something to keep an eye on as it matures.</p>

The Sweet Spot - 400FSB ~ 460FSB

<p style="text-align: justify;">Despite the trials and tribulations we went through during the overclocking of this motherboard before we found the winning combination for us, the 400FSB to 460FSB range was always good to us. With any BIOS on the 333 strap, running 1:2, tight PLs and great performance are to be had right where most if not all top end C2Ds and C2Qs are going to run out of gas CPU frequency wise. Clocking that high with a tight PL is so simple in fact that the motherboard does it on its own with the right memory. Before we knew it, we were running 450FSB like it was stock...with a Performance Level of 6 giving incredible performance.</p><center>
sweetspot-1.jpg
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">The higher FSB clocks at the tail end of the review period were impressive and all but the real performance is had with next to no voltage and very low heat output in the 400FSB to 460FSB range. The honorable mention goes to 499FSB, 333 Strap, DDR3-1596 (5:8), PL 8. This combination brings memory up to DDR3-1600 with a FSB that could put your CPU at 4GHz, 3.74GHz, 3.49GHz or lower depending on CPU ratios available. The bandwidth and latency results are equal to or better than the 400FSB range with the memory at the same frequency but voltages to the north bridge might be a bit more and we are not sure if all boards/CPUs will be able to run that high a FSB, most 45nm C2Ds should though. The added benefit is that you get about the same bandwidth, without the need for the ultra high-end memory. Lots of cheaper kits will run DDR3-1600 with good latencies, 1GB and 2GB kits.</p>
 
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Conclusion

Conclusion


<p style="text-align: justify;">What makes a good motherboard? Does it have to be 100% stable stock and overclocked? Does it have to come with a large accessory package? Does it have to look good? Everyone has their own opinion, or we should possibly say needs, when it comes to what makes a motherboard "good". So it only naturally makes sense that not all motherboards are considered equal and understand that by nature they shouldn't be. Is the P5E3-Premium the perfect motherboard? To some it will be, to others it won't even be considered due to price alone. The key is whether or not you feel it will be the perfect motherboard for your application, because it does a lot of things well, real well.</p><center>
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</center><p style="text-align: justify;">Of course the P5E3-Premium doesn't do everything but like we said, it can't be expected to be perfect since nothing really is. The biggest flaw is going to be the price and the fact that it is $350+ means that only a thin slice of the market is even a potential buyer, and this thin slice is not easily impressed. The one issue that shouldn't have been (and indeed we weren't expecting it to be) an issue is the lack of FSB overclocking demonstrated by this board. As we mentioned a number of times, the sweet spot is in that first three quarters of the 400FSB range but the experienced overclocker wants 500FSB+ and generally needs it for certain kinds of benchmarking. This motherboard has been gaining praise all over enthusiast forums as 'The' DDR3 motherboard for memory clocking right now but we clearly weren't so fortunate with our sample. Just another perfect example of how the world of overclocking is hit and miss at the best of times. Another potential drawback is the AI Gear 3+ and EPU power saving feature. It really was a little unruly to get installed, and running properly. Even when it was running relatively smoothly, there were still ASUS ACPI errors and random issues with the software. If ASUS really wants to push the benefits of saving a hundredth of a kilowatt hour of energy with your CPU idle, they are going to have to improve the software that runs it. EPU is supposed to be all hardware? Then make it an option in the BIOS for the various settings or to disable it all together, and leave software out of it.

With the bad comes plenty of good though, including dual PCI-E 16X slots for the ultimate CrossFire X gaming rig. The P5E3-Premium also boasts a silent cooling solution that again impresses with improvements to mounting hardware and the ability to really push the motherboard passively. Round that up with a full accessory package and enough software features to keep the geek in the house happy and you have a very well laid out, high performing motherboard that fills the high-end gaming segment very well. Just don't forget the sweet spot we talked about and keep the boards clocking high and the Performance Level low.</p>

<b>Pros:</b>
  • Another solid, silent, and featured ASUS motherboard
  • Make your life easy, get some XMP
  • The sweet spot really is strong performance wise and most setups should hit it easily

<b>Cons:</b>
  • Not nearly enough voltage or temperature readings available
  • The EPU software, ExpressGate Feature, and BIOS needs to mature a little bit
  • Very high priced and aimed at the upper end of the spectrum
  • Fought with our sample for high FSB overclocking



<b><i>Thank-you ASUS for making this review possible!</i></b>

http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/foru...-asus-p5e3-premium-review-comment-thread.html
 
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