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ASUS P7P55D Deluxe Lynnfield Motherboard Review

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FiXT

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ASUS P7P55D Deluxe
LGA1156 Motherboard Review‏




Manufacturer's Part Number: P7P55D Deluxe
Price: $235CDN+ Price Comparison
Manufacturer's Product Page: ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
Warranty: 3 year limited warranty (with 1st year advanced RMA service)




As most of you are aware, Intel's mainstream 'Lynnfield' Core i5 and Core i7 LGA1156 processors have launched and motherboard manufacturers have overwhelmingly embraced this new platform. As a result, the market has quite literally been flooded with P55 motherboards, ranging from $110 to $400CDN. While all consumers enjoy having choices, the sheer scope of new models introduced has left people's heads spinning. While our previews were well-received and shed some light on the various P55 offerings pre-launch, nothing comes close to a proper review. With that said, today we will be bringing you one of the higher-end P55 models in the ASUS roster, the P7P55D Deluxe.

Second only to the P7P55D Premium, the Deluxe comes packed to the gills with goodies. It naturally supports all current LGA1156 Core i5 & Core i7 processors, has a stout 16+3 phase power design, four DDR3 memory slots with frequency support up to DDR3-2200 (O.C), three mechanical PCI-E x16 slots with CrossFireX & SLI support, dual Gigabit LAN ports, an impressive 10-channel HD audio CODEC, 9 SATA ports, 14 USB 2.0 ports, 2 FireWire ports, 1 eSATA port, a new TurboV EVO real-time overclocking processor with accompanying TurboV remote, onboard power/reset switches, and a socketed BIOS chip. And that's just physical aspects. One of this motherboard's most highly touted new features is its automatic overclocking capabilities, which are said to be generations above anything we've encountered in the past.

In this tough field, this board is trying to make an impression and judging from the ASUS pedigree of years past, this board is already leading the charge into the P55 space. Indeed, with its price of about $250 here in Canada, it is able to offer a bevy of features without breaking the bank.

It should also be noted that ASUS has recently added advanced RMA service within the first year of their warranty coverage. This means they will cross-ship you a replacement board so you won't have to experience the usual long delay when it comes to getting your system up and running again.



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MAC

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Specifications

Specifications


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Intel's new P55 Express 'Ibex Peak' chipset is a true break from their traditional chipset design. Unlike all previous Intel chipsets which featured both a northbridge and a southbridge (eg. X58 Express + ICH10R), the P55 is a one-chip solution. As such, it has been given the new designation of Platform Controller Hub (PCH). When it comes to PCI-Express 2.0 connectivity things get a little complicated with this chipset since in the past, the northbridge supplied the graphics-related PCI-E lanes. However, Lynnfield processors feature an industry-first: an integrated PCI-E controller that supports 16 PCI-E 2.0 lanes supplying two mechanical PCI-E x16 slots. If only one graphics card is installed, it will operate at the full electrical x16 speed and if two graphics cards are installed, the PCI-E lanes are divided between both PCI-E x16 slots and they will operate at x8 each. On motherboards with three mechanical PCI-E x16 slots, the first two slots will each operate at x8 while the third slot will operate at x4. How is this possible if we have already established that the integrated PCI-E controller only supports 16 PCI-E lanes? The additional 4 PCI-E lanes come from the P55 PCH itself, which can supply up to 8 PCI-E 1.0 lanes in total.

On the connectivity front, the P55 supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and 6 SATA II ports with Matrix Storage Technology. It also features one Gigabit LAN port and HD Audio Technology. It does not feature support for Intel's Trusted Execution Technology (TXT), formerly known as LaGrande, which provides hardware-level protection against malicious software.

The P55 PCH communicates to the processor via the Direct Media Interface (DMI), which is a 2 GB/s point-to-point connection, which is roughly equivalent to a PCI-E x4 1.0 link. By the way, the DMI is by no means new, it has long been used as the link between the northbridge and southbridge.

Much like the P45 Express and X58 Express chipsets, the P55 PCH is manufactured on the venerable 65nm process, and it has a low default voltage of 1.0V. As a result of this low voltage, and the simple fact that the P55 does not actually do much, it does run quite cool. Did we mention that it is also quite tiny? The P55's package size is just 27mm x 27mm, and the actual die is a minuscule 8mm x 8mm.

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While that is all there is to know about this new chipset, here is the specifications list for the P7P55D Deluxe motherboard itself. Despite this platform's supposedly mainstream roots, you will definitely see that ASUS have omitted nothing from this high-end P55 motherboard.

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This motherboard's specifications list is impressive enough to go head-to-head against almost any X58 motherboard on the market right now, which says a lot about the faith ASUS has in this new platform.

Of particular interest to us though are the new 'ASUS Unique Features' incorporated on this model, so let's check that out next.
 
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MAC

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Features

Features


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ASUS has a new design philosophy that is called Xtreme Design, and it incorporates 3 elements: performance, safety and reliability. There are too many new innovations to list in this piece, but we will go over a few of the more interesting aspects.

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</div>The P7P55D Deluxe has been outfitted with the new Xtreme Phase design, which on this model is a true 16-phase power design. The benefits of implementing so many phases is the reduction of the average power load for each phase through real-time phase switching in relation to the system load. In coordination with the new T.Probe and PEM hardware controllers, this theoretically leads to lower temperatures and improved reliability, more stable power delivery at high frequencies and better power efficiency. Speaking of efficiency, this motherboard also features enhanced EPU technology, which helps improve energy efficiency by moderating power in real-time based on the system load. Needless to say the design also features high quality capacitors with 50,000-hour lifespans.


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</div>The ASUS Turbo Key is an exclusive feature that transforms the PC power button into a physical overclocking button, very much like the Turbo buttons of 386/486-era. This provides novice users a one-touch solution to boost system performance whenever they need it, even during a game. Meanwhile, the more experienced enthusiast users will instead benefit greatly from the TurboV EVO and Turbo V technology. The TurboV EVO is a new hardware controller dedicated solely to system overclocking and it can do both intelligent auto-tuning and real-time hardware overclocking. Also new with this motherboard is the TurboV remote, which is a physical controller that allows you to select between three auto-overclocking presets, permits real-time adjustments to the BCLK and system voltages and even allows manipulation of the EPU settings. Lastly, there is the TurboV overclocking utility that ASUS first introduced with their X58 motherboards, but it now been updated with more precise voltage adjustments, improved functionality and better stability.


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</div>One of the main aspects of the Xtreme Design initiative is improved safety. What this means is the reduction of potential EMI-based issues, improved static discharge tolerance and over current protection. This is achieved through better layout, design, component choice and overall design symmetry, particularly in the CPU and I/O ports area where EMI issues are most likely to occur. ASUS have also worked to reduce the likelyhood of static discharge damage which is caused by the accumulated electrical charge of your body “jumping” into the system through your fingers, by protecting each USB port on the motherboard. Last but not least is the improved the over current protection. In this case there are small circuits scattered throughout the motherboard that act like fuses and circuit breakers preventing your components and devices from getting damaged in the event of an over current condition.


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</div>On the P7P55D series, ASUS have improved upon the StackCool Technology (copper cooling + cooling design implementations) that they first introduced in 2004. The focus of StackCool has always been to consistently refine motherboard design to improve overall cooling for both the motherboard itself and the onboard components, with the ultimate aim of improving stability and reliability. This can be seen by the extensive cooling solutions for power phases, MOSFETs, chipsets and the integration of cooling via the motherboard PCB itself. With the new StackCool 3+ design, ASUS implemented an additional two 2oz copper PCB layers to their existing 6 layer PCB design which when combined with better circuit design and placement, helps to release heat from critical points more efficiently.
 
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MAC

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Package & Accessories

Package & Accessories



Enough with the paper specs, time to check out the product itself starting with a brief look at the package and accessories.

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Here we have the shiny blue/purple-ish box that is the mainstay for nearly all ASUS Intel-based motherboards, but with one minor change: a flap. Although the box is already adorned with logos illustrating this model's numerous features and specifications, the flap has quite a bit of additional information about all of the interesting ASUS-specific features that the P7P55D Deluxe comes with. Essentially, if you take a few moments to look and read the box, you will know exactly what you are getting with this product.


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The accessories bundle is a little light, but honestly there's nothing missing. There are six SATA cables, three of which have a 90-degree connectors and the customary IDE cable. There is the anti-EMI I/O panel and Q-Connectors, which make attaching the case cables to the system panel connector a much easier process. ASUS have also included an SLI bridge and a USB/eSATA PCI expansion bracket. Last, but certainly not least, is the one-of-a-kind TurboV remote, which allows for real-time system overclocking in coordination with the TurboV EVO chip. It also allows you to select Turbo Key and EPU profiles.
 
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MAC

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A Closer Look at the ASUS P7P55D Deluxe

A Closer Look at the ASUS P7P55D Deluxe



Without further ado, here is the P7P55D Deluxe in all its glory:

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Upon first glance this motherboard's layout is nearly perfect. The 8-pin CPU power connector, overvoltage switches, 24-pin ATX power connector, IDE connector, SATA ports, USB and FireWire headers and onboard power/reset buttons are all ideally located on the edges of the motherboard. The TurboV remote connector is a little hard to reach, and the CPU fan header is in a slightly unusual position, but none of these are deal-breakers. We definitely like the black PCB and it looks great with the new blue & white theme, especially with the striking low profile chipset cooler.

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The general CPU socket area on this motherboard is quite interesting. The LGA1156 socket and the retention module are both obviously new designs, but the truly eye-catching feature is definitely the 16+3 phase power design, as evidenced by the 19 sealed chokes. The MOSFET heatsinks are connected to each other by a heatpipe, and they are fairly low profile, so interference problems are highly unlikely with any well-designed CPU cooler. We are not too keen on the bucket load of capacitors so near to the CPU socket since it will make insulating the socket a tough job but few users will ever encounter this issue.

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The DDR3 memory slots support overclocked memory frequencies up to DDR3-2133, however the truly impressive specification is the 4-phase power design. We are glad to see that the Q-DIMM memory slot design, which is clipless on one end, has found its way from the Maximus II GENE to this model. The reason for this innovative design is due to the fact that the clips would have come into contact with the back of the graphics card and would have made removal of the memory modules impossible without first removing the graphics card.

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Around the memory slots is the MemOk! button, which can fix any compatibility issues between the motherboard and the memory and allow the system to boot. To the right of the MemOk! button is the TurboV EVO chip, a real-time hardware overclocking processor. Above the memory slots are the new overvoltage switches for the DRAM, the Integrated Memory Controller (IMC) and the CPU, which allow you to unlock higher voltages in the BIOS...but remember that these unlocked voltages are insanely high, so be careful. By the way, the use of switches for this feature has made the P7P55D Deluxe a jumper-less motherboard.

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The P7P55D Deluxe features six right-angle SATA II (3Gb/s) ports, which are supplied by the P55 chipset. The dark blue and light gray SATA ports are provided by the popular JMicron JMB322 controller, which also plays a role in the Drive Xpert RAID 0/1 feature. A JMicron JMB363 controller, which is hidden under the heatsink, supplies the black SATA port and IDE port.

Speaking of the chipset heatsink, we like its low profile and interesting design and look forward to testing its cooling capabilities.

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The overall expansion slot layout and assortment is excellent. There are three full-sized PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots, two PCI-E x1 slots, and two legacy PCI slots. In a single graphics card configuration, the blue PCI-E x16 slot will operate at the full x16 speed, while the black slot will run at x4. When two graphics cards are installed in the blue and white PCI-E x16 slots, they will operate at x8 each with the black slot once again operating at x4. This motherboard does support Quad-GPU CrossFireX and Quad-GPU SLI with two dual-GPU graphics cards. Attempting to run three graphics cards would be pointless for gaming purposes since the third card would run at x4 and thus be a huge bottleneck.However, if you partake in [email protected], you could feasibly run three graphics cards on this motherboard without issue.

Below the expansion slots are the always welcome onboard power and reset buttons, and you can also spot the socketed BIOS chip. This is a good design choice since ASUS can simply ship you a new BIOS chip should an update go terribly wrong. However, we would prefer to see two BIOS chips since that would prevent any downtime.


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Starting clockwise from the top-left, we see the VIA VT2020 10-channel High Definition Audio CODEC. This is a newer, previously unseen onboard audio solution which should prove to be a tough competitor to the dominant Realtek ALC888/889 series. It supports such niceties as DTS Surround Sensation and the ASUS Noise Filter feature. The Realtek 8110SC and 8112L are both Gigabit LAN controllers. At this point, we aren't entirely sure why ASUS chose two difference models, nor why they did not make use of the P55's native Intel Gigabit LAN support, but we assume it has something to do with the ASUS AI NET 2 feature.

In the last image we have three different chips. The well-known EPU2 chip has been enhanced with newer functions, but it continues to work to help maximize energy efficiency based on the system load. The T.Probe (at the bottom) and PEM ICs are the brand new power phase management controllers. These chips manages the VRM area in real-time to balance load across the power phases and ensure the best possible efficiency and temperatures.

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As labeled, the TURBO_CON is where to plug in the TurboV remote. We would have prefered to see this header on the I/O panel, but for now all you need to do is slide the remote's wire in between two I/O panel modules which isn't a big deal. The space between the I/O module and the MOSFET heatsink is rather small though, so those with larger fingers may have to use pliers to connect/disconnect the remote's connector from the header.

The entire P7P55D series features a proper 8-pin CPU power connector, but judging by the fact that our board came with a plastic cap covering four pins, you may still be able to get by with a 4-pin connector.

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Starting from left to right, the rear I/O panel features a PS/2 mouse port, PS2/ keyboard port, a CMOS reset button, two USB 2.0 ports, coaxial and optical S/PDIF connectors, a Gigabit LAN port and two additional USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port and two additional USB 2.0 ports, the second Gigabit LAN port and two additional USB 2.0 ports, and finally the six audio jacks on the audio module.

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The back of the motherboard is interesting in that ASUS have installed a second set of MOSFETs there, and they have even outfitted them with their own heatsinks. This proves ASUS is listening to our collective feedback, since we previously demonstrated that those back-mounted MOSFETs can get exceedingly hot. We are glad to see that the chipset cooler is held in place with proper mounting screws, gone are the days of the problematic push-pins
 
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MAC

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Hardware Installation

Hardware Installation


In the Hardware Installation section we examine how major components fit on the motherboard, and whether there are any serious issues that may affect installation and general functionality. Specifically, we are interested in determining whether there is adequate clearance in all critical areas.

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As mentioned in the layout description in the previous section, the CPU fan header is in a slightly unusual position on the P7P55D Deluxe, which is to say above the first PCI-E x16 slot. This is not a big deal though, as the area is very easy to access. On the other hand, the TurboV Remote header is a little tougher to get to, especially if you have larger fingers. Plugging in the connector maybe not be too challenging, but removing it is a pain and you have to be quite careful to break either of the two fragile plastic bits.

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When installed in the traditional North-South orientation, our Thermalright MUX-120 (ie: update Ultra-120) cooler had no clearance issues on this motherboard, easily clearing the MOSFET heatsinks and with a fair bit of room between the 120MM fan and the first DIMM slot.

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However, when we rotated the cooler to the East-West orientation things got a little more tricky. As you can, in this orientation the MUX-120 overhangs the first DIMM slot, and although not visible in the first image, actually overhangs the second DIMM slot a little as well. Although we are showing the memory module coming into contact with the fan clip, even without it there, the memory heatspreader will still touch the heatsink making installation impossible if you have tall heatspreaders. The end result is that if you have a memory kit with tall heatspreaders, you must install them before installing the heatsink, which is obviously a little bit of pain in the <i>derriere</i>. Nevertheless, if you have low-profile memory modules, then there are no clearance problems whatsoever.

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Thanks to ASUS' unique Q-DIMM slot design, there can be no problems with memory clips coming into contact with the back of a graphics card. Definitely a great little feature.

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With the CPU heatsink in the North-South orientation, there isn't exactly a lot of clearance between the back of the graphics card and the heatsink, which makes accessing the PCI-E x16 slot clip a little bit difficult. However, we simply used a pen to push down on the clips, no big deal.


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As mentioned above, the clearance between the CPU heatsink and the back of the graphics card is minimal, which means that if you have one of those <u>very rare</u> graphics cards with a heatsink on the back, it may slightly contact the CPU heatsink. Thankfully, this didn't have any consequences on the installation of either component.

If your particular heatsink is substantially larger than our MUX-120, then you may have to rotate it to the East-West orientation, but at the expense of easy access to the first two memory slots.

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Thanks to a well thoughtout expansion slot layout, when you install two dual-slot graphics cards on this motherboard you will not lose access to the precious PCI-E x1 slot.

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What if you're a Folder and you want to make use of the third PCI-E x16 slot? Well you definitely can, but you will lose access to the three upward-facing SATA ports. You will also want to ensure that your FireWire/front-panel/USB connectors are pre-installed in their respective headers.

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The six 90-degree SATA and IDE ports are obviously accessible no matter how many graphics cards are installed.

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Since Thermalright has not yet released their LGA1156 bracket, we cannot properly test to see if there are any clearance issues, however there is nothing on the back of the P7P55D Deluxe that gives us cause for concern.
 
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MAC

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BIOS Rundown

BIOS Rundown


A well designed, feature-rich motherboard can easily be rendered mediocre by a subpar BIOS. Thankfully, as you will see below, ASUS has outfitted the P7P55D Deluxe with an intuitive, user-friendly BIOS. This is BIOS version 0720, which we used throughout our review.

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Here we have full screen logo that appears everytime the system is powered on. Thankfully, it can be disabled for those who want to shave some seconds from the bootup time.

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When we first enter the BIOS, we are presented with the Main tab, it lists the standard storage devices and some basic system information. This System Information section lists some rudimentary specification info, including the BIOS date & version, the type of processor and the amount of memory installed.

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Anyone who has used a non-RoG ASUS motherboards knows that the Ai Tweaker tab is where all the fun happens. Once the manual option is selected in the Ai Overclock Tuner setting, the BIOS opens up to reveal all of the essential system clock control options: CPU multiplier, BLCK frequency, PCI-E frequency, memory frequency, QPI frequency, OC Tuner utility, memory timing options, and all the voltage options.

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The OC Tuner utility is new BIOS-based overclocking feature that ASUS have implemented on their P7P55 series motherboards. It features three different profiles based on how aggressive you want it to be while selecting a proper overclock configuration. As you will see in our Auto Overclocking Results section, it proved to be a very impressive at achieving a high CPU frequency.

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Once you select the DRAM Timing Control option, you enter a seperate sub-menu where the abundant primary and secondy memory timings are revealed.

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The Advanced Tab is where you can enable/disable all the CPU-specific features like C1E, SpeedStep, Turbo Mode, C-STATE, as well as all the onboard devices like audio, LAN, FireWire, eSATA, etc.

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The Power section contains the power management settings linked to the power-saving sleep modes, it allows you to enable/disable the new EuP standard, and it leads to the Hardware Monitor. The Hardware Monitor has very basic temperature & voltage reporting, and fan control functionality. We would like to see more voltage readouts, specifically VTT/IMC and vDIMM, which are absolutely essential for any overclocker nowadays.

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The Boot tab is essentially where you set storage device priority and select the boot drive, where you can set supervisor and user passwords, and also disable the full screen logo.

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The ASUS O.C Profile feature gives users the option to save and switch between BIOS profiles, for example an everyday profile and a benchmarking profile. Not only is this infinitely quicker than manually inserting every setting, but the profiles can be saved and shared among other P7P55D Deluxe owners. We are glad to see that ASUS have listened to our recommendations, and increased the number of profiles from a meager 2 to a more reasonable 8 profiles. The Tools section also contains the DriveXpert settings, which allow you to select between RAID-0 and RAID-1 on the light grey and dark blue SATA ports.

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ASUS EZ-Flash 2 is a built-in utility that greatly simplies the BIOS updating process. You can easily update your BIOS from a ROM file located on your hard drive(s), USB flash drive(s), or even a CD. It's quick, painless, and it takes the worry out of BIOS flashing.
 
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MAC

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Included Software

Included Software


Now that we have the motherboard unpacked and installed, it is time to take a look at some of the software utilities that ASUS has included with the P7P55D Deluxe.

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Here we have the familiar setup screens for the included software CD. It contains all the drivers or ASUS-specific utilities that you will need to get your system up & running. However, we obviously recommend that you visit the ASUS website to get the very latest software revisions.


PC Probe II

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PC Probe II is a system monitoring utility that displays information regarding fan speeds, component temperatures and voltages, as well as alerting users once preset thresholds have been surpassed. As always we like to see some additional voltage readouts, VTT/IMC and memory voltage at the very latest. We also wouldn't mind seeing some integration with Vista's sidebar, just to help clean up the desktop area a bit.


AI Suite

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The AI Suite provides basic system information, but its main function is to host shortcuts to five other ASUS utilities and features, namely the EPU-6 Engine, AI NAP, CPU Level Up, Fan Xpert, and TurboV. The AI NAP is an advanced sleep feature that allows users to put their computers to sleep without terminating any tasks. Fan Xpert allows users to select from 7 fan speed profiles that can be individually applied to any fan.


TurboV EVO

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For their P55 lineup, ASUS have unveiled TurboV EVO, a new version of their popular overclocking utility. This application allows users to adjust all essential system parameters from within Windows, namely the base clock frequency, CPU voltage, VTT/IMC voltage, memory voltage, and even then CPU voltage and PCH voltage when you click on 'more settings'. All these settings can be tweaked without the need to reboot. This program also allows users to also save profiles and load them from within Windows. As usual, we had a good experience with the program, and we have come to rely on it to make quick on-the-fly adjustments in order to find stable overclock settings in various benchmarking applications.

TurboV EVO also contains the Auto Tuning feature, which will automatically overclock your system by going through five tweaking and stability testing phases. As you will see in our Auto Overclocking Results section, Auto Tuning proved to be quite competent, and since ASUS are continually improving this feature, it will get better and better at safely squeezing extra performance from the available components.

This utility allows you to program some functions for Turbo Key, which can turn the PC power button (or selected keyboard keys) into a physical overclocking button, very much like the Turbo buttons of 386/486-era. This provides novice users a one-touch solution to boost system performance whenever they need it. When the TurboV Remote is installed, the Turbo Key section allows you to associate the A-B-C buttons to three default overclocking profiles, or even to load your own.


T.Probe

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The T.Probe utility allows users to see how many MOSFETs are being utilized on the fly, as well as get a representation of the MOSFET temperatures. Ultimately, we find this particular piece of software to be more of a novelty than anything else, especially since it doesn't actually report temperatures in a tangible °C/°F manner.


EPU-6 Engine

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First showcased on the P5Q series, the EPU-6 Engine has been one of ASUS's most highly touted features. This utility works in coordination with the EPU (Energy Processing Unit) controller in order to minimize your system's energy consumption. It does this by continuously monitoring and altering the speeds and voltages of the CPU, VGA card, hard drives and fans. There are four manually selectable modes and an automatic mode that varies settings according to system load. Regrettably, unlike Gigabyte's Dynamic Energy Saver (DES) technology, EPU-6 will not work when your system is overclocked, which obviously makes it a less attractive proposition from our power user point-of-view. Can it provide tangible energy efficiency gains? We will verify that in our Power Consumption section.


Express Gate

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Last, we have the ExpressGate “instant-on” operating system. This SplashTop Linux mini-OS allows for quick access to basic functions. In mere seconds, users can web browse, view photos, chat via Pigdin, and even make internet calls through Skype. As you can see in the image that is directly above, ExpressGate features an application dock somewhat similar to that which can found in recent Apple OS X versions. It is a convenient way to layout the four included applications. There are also a configuration panel with some very basic setup options.

It was painless to setup thanks to its completely automated installation procedure, and very easy to use. It resides on the hard drive, and prompts you to use it or continue booting normally everytime you start your computer, unless you disable it in the BIOS.

Overall, ExpressGate is useful for those instances where your PC is off and you need the internet or Skype right away, but otherwise it quickly becomes a novelty feature due to its inherent software limitations.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
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Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Test Setup & Methodology

Test Setup & Methodology



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Test Setup​
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Testing will occur on a Highspeed PC Standard Top Deck Tech Station and not in a traditional case. This allows easier access to the motherboard for the constant poking and prodding that is required during the reviewing process. The setup remained as pictured during the duration of the benchmarking and stability overclocking process.



Overclocking Methodology


Although not necessarily an enthusiast-oriented motherboard, the P7P55D Deluxe is a high-end model, and we plan to thoroughly test out its overclocking capabilities and find out what this motherboard is truly capable of. The overclocking section is definitely the part of our reviews that we take the most pride in, and we spend an excruciating numbers of hours testing, tweaking, failing, and succeeding in order to give you the best possible insight into each motherboard’s overclocking capabilities. After all, if you are anything like us, the overclocking section is the first (and often last!) part that you read when checking out a motherboard review.

For the purposes of this review, our overclocking efforts will primarily focus on five main areas: highest stable BCLK overclock, highest stable CPU overclock, highest stable memory overclock, overall system overclock. However, given the increasing prevalence of automatic overclocking solutions, we have also included an "auto overclocking results" section, in which we will see how good these manufacture-provided technologies really are.

In these overclocking tests we put an emphasis on stability. While the question “What is stable?” could be debated endlessly, we have devised a methodology that combines a wide range of programs that test the stability of the entire system.

Here are some of the applications that will be run in order to validate each of the overclocks:

  • Four/Eight 32MB instances of SuperPi Mod 1.5 (ran at the same time)
  • 3+ hours of dual Prime 95 v25.6 using the Stress Testing Blend
  • 1 hour of OCCT Auto 1H Medium Data Set OCCT v3.1.0
  • LinX 0.5.9 - 25 runs - use all memory
  • Multiple loops of 3DMark 06 (30 minutes of looping the full tests each)
  • 1 hour of game play in Left 4 Dead & Crysis @ 1680x1050

Altogether, the above suite should provide enough stress testing to ensure a completely stable overclock, however we are always up for new suggestions. As always, no two systems are ever alike, so your results may vary. Also, overclock at your own risk! The Lynnfield/P55 platform is brand new, and although we are somewhat conservative with our voltage estimates, there is always the possibility that you could damage any and all of your components. If you aren’t fully confident in what you are doing, feel free to stop by our forums and our helpful community will be glad to offer some assistance.


Benchmark Methodology



For this review, we have compared the ASUS P7P55D Deluxe with the Intel DP55KG "Kingsberg" motherboard, in stock configuration, using the Core i7-870 processor. We have also included an overclocked configuration for the ASUS, just to demonstrate this platform's overclocked performance potential.

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We have outlined the three setups in the sample graph above. The blue results will indicate the ASUS P7P55D Deluxe's stock results. The red results are from the Intel DP55KG, also at stock. The green results are from the highest stable overall system overclock for the ASUS motherboard.

For all of the benchmarks, appropriate lengths are taken to ensure an equal comparison through methodical setup, installation, and testing. The following outlines our testing methodology:

A) Windows is installed using a full format.

B) Intel Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed followed by a defragment and a reboot.

C) Programs and games are then installed followed by another defragment.

D) Windows updates are then completed installing all available updates followed by a defragment.

E) Benchmarks are each ran three times after a clean reboot for every iteration of the benchmark unless otherwise stated, the results are then averaged.

We have listed the benchmark versions above each graph as results can vary between updates. That should about cover everything so let's see what kind of numbers this motherboard puts up in the overclocking section and in our chosen suite of benchmarks.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Manual Overclocking Results

Manual Overclocking Results



If you are buying or building a Lynnfield/P55 system chances are that you don't already own a Core i7/X58 system. Many of you will likely be transitioning over from Intel Core 2-based systems,and you have to realize that overclocking Core i5/i7 processors is quite different than with the previous Core 2 architecture. There are now four important clock speeds (CPU/BCLK/MEM/QPI) and three multipliers (CPU/MEM/QPI) to tweak, as well as five different voltages. Put simply, there are lot of new variables and potential limitations that an overclocker must now take into consideration. At the moment, no one is an expert when it comes to Lynnfield overclocking, and we are all learning new tricks and tweaks on a weekly basis. At this point in time, for our overclocking tests we have a imposed a few relatively conservative voltage limits, namely vCore up to 1.40 vCore, VTT/IMC up to 1.35V, and vDIMM up to 1.70V. It is our estimation that these voltages can be safely used 24/7 without seriously shortening the lifespan of any components...with proper cooling of course.

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Highest Stable BCLK Overclock




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BCLK overclocking has thus far proven to be a very interesting experience for us. On the one hand, our i5-750 sample has proven quite BCLK friendly, achieving a stable 212Mhz with as little as 1.21V VTT/IMC. However, no matter how much additional voltage we give the chip, it wouldn't gain 1Mhz of additional stable BCLK headroom. On the other hand, our i7-870 is a voltage hog, needing a full 1.35V VTT/IMC in order to stabilize a 202Mhz BCLK. Why this huge disparity between chips? Well, to be honest, our particular i7-870 sample is probably just a little weak in the BCLK area. We have seen several i7-800 series retail chips that are stable in 210-215Mhz BCLK range.

With regard to the P7P55D Deluxe, we were able to squeeze an additional 2Mhz BLCK from our i5-750 sample compared with the Intel DP55KG, but no additional headroom from the i7-870 which was only stable up to 202Mhz on either motherboard.

Highest Stable CPU Overclock




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In our search for the highest stable core clock, we were able to break 4.0Ghz mark on both chips. Specifically, we were able to achieve 4088Mhz with 1.40 vCore on the i5-750, and 4044Mhz at 1.35 vCore on the i7-870. Why did we only use 1.35V on the 870? Heat! HyperThreading increases core temps by a solid 10C, so at these settings we were already well within the mid-80C mark, with the very occassional peak into the low 90C's. Once Thermalright releases a proper LGA1156 mounting mechanism, instead of the push-pin design that was bundled with our MUX-120, we should be able to push both chips even higher and with lower temps too thanks to better contact and mounting pressure.

Both of these results are slightly better than what we achieved on the DP55KG, but admittedly we were time-constrained when achieving those overclocking results.


Highest Stable Memory Overclock




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While searching for the highest stable memory overclock, we pushed aside our weaker i5-750 and focused on the i7-870. In doing so, we were able to achieve an impressive DDR3-2200/PC3-17600 9-9-9-24-1T @ 1.65V. Let's be clear that this memory frequency, while impressive, was absolutely limited by our self-imposed 1.35V VTT/IMC voltage limit. The i7-870 integrated memory controller was the bottleneck in this case, not the motherboard, nor our Patriot Sector 5 Viper II DDR3-2000 8-8-8 memory modules, which feature awesome Elpida Hyper ICs.

The P7P55D Deluxe is rated up to DDR3-2200, which is exactly what we achieved, and which is a full 62Mhz (DDR) higher than our result with the DP55KG. Not too shabby at all.


Overall Stable System Overclock




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The Overall Stable System overclock is not only the configuration that we would personally use 24/7, but it is also the configuration that we used in the benchmarks section. We are running our Core i7-870 at 4.0Ghz with a 200Mhz BCLK. With the P7P55D Deluxe we could have used the unlocked CPU 24X and a lower 167Mhz BLCK to achieve the same CPU core clock, but we chose the lower multiplier/higher BCLK approach since it allowed us to have a very high Uncore frequency. Our 3600Mhz Uncore is a full 50% faster than the stock 2400Mhz, and the performance benefits are substantial, much greater than what could be achieved by simply overclocking the memory. Although we could have elected to run the memory at DDR3-2000, we chose a low latency/low voltage approach by running the memory at DDR3-1600 7-8-7 at 1.55 vDIMM. This should be achievable with just about any mainstream kit, no need to speed on fortune on an enthusiast kit.


Now these are the results that we were able to achieve manually using this motherboard, but the P7P55D Deluxe is outfitted with two seperate auto-overclocking technologies that ASUS have been touting for months, one BIOS-based and one software-based. Just how good (or bad) are they? Let's find out...
 
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