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This story was printed from CdrInfo.com,
located at http://www.cdrinfo.com.
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Appeared on: Friday, July 15, 2005
Asus P5WD2 Premium


1. Introduction

Asus, a manufacturer of reliable and high quality products, has one of the largest range motherboards. In 2003, Asus sold 5,000,000 motherboards which means one out of every 5 desktop computers was built using an Asus motherboard. Asus motherboards are known for their high performance and for being feature packed.

In our previous review of the P5ND2-SLI Deluxe Asus motherboard, we saw how dual VGA cards, in SLI mode, can be combined with the NForce4 Northbridge chipset and the Intel 775 CPU. This time, Asus has adopted the same technology, without the SLI certification, using the new Intel chipset, the 955X. The new Asus motherboard is the P5WD2 Premium.

- Features

AI Life Series
AI Life Series motherboards bring lifestyle and personal computing together. They entertain you with TV, radio and Dolby support, and link you to the rest of the world via wireless connection(WiFi-TV bundle edition only). To create a peaceful environment, several new and improved innovations are also included to reduce noise and temperature. Don't change your way of life for a computer. Instead let the ASUS Life Series improve the quality of your life.

Stack Cool 2
Stack Cool 2 is a fan-less and zero-noise cooling solution. It effectively transfers heat generated by the critical components to the other side of the specially designed PCB (printed circuit board) for effective heat dissipation.
AI Quiet
With PCs serving as the entertainment centerpiece and playing a bigger role in our lives, quiet operation is in high demand. No one wants to hear the cooling fan spinning when watching a movie or listening to music. The ASUS AI Quiet function dynamically controls CPU speed and reduces temperature and fan speeds when peace and quiet are what you desire.
Wifi-TV PCI Card
Connectivity and entertainment are the key words of personal computing in the 21st Century, and the AI Life Series delivers both.
(Note: Optional, the WiFi-TV card has to be purchased separately)
Total Wireless Solution
Offering IEEE 802.11a/b/g standards all in one add-on card, the WiFi-TV PCI card allows convenient wireless connection to the Internet and other digital devices. Share photos, videos and MP3 music files between the wireless devices at home without the tangling wires. Moreover, the unique setup wizard makes establishing a wireless environment a piece of cake.
- Easily sync up with Centrino notebooks and other wireless devices
- 802.11a standard offers less signal interference and better performance
- Setup wizard simplifies wireless network establishment
The Next TV Standard
Get ready for the Digital TV revolution! ASUS WiFi-TV PCI card offers not only analog TV input, but also the much talked-about Digital TV connection, which presents higher resolution and more functions than the traditional analog standard. FM radio is also supported on this multi-functional card to provide a flexible solution to enjoy your favorite television and radio shows.
- Analog TV, Digital TV (DVB-T) and FM radio
- Edit video recorded on your camcorder with bundled authoring software
- Enjoy great multimedia experience with the bundled Cyberlink PowerCinema
SATA on the Go
The motherboard supports the next-generation hard drives based on the Serial ATA (SATA) 3Gb/s storage specification, delivering enhanced scalability and doubling the bus bandwidth for high-speed data retrieval and saves. The external SATA ports located at the back I/O provide smart setup and hot-plug functions. Easily backup photos, videos and other entertainment contents on external devices.

 

Intel LGA775 Pentium 4 CPU
This motherboard supports the latest Pentium 4 CPU from Intel in LGA775 package. With 1066/ 800/ 533MHz FSB, 1MB L2 cache, Hyper-Threading Technology and core-speeds up to 3.6GHz and beyond, Intel's LGA775 Pentium 4 is one of the fastest desktop processors to date.
Dual-Core CPU
Enjoy the extraordinary CPU power from the latest dual-core CPU. The advanced processing technology contains two physical CPU cores with individually dedicated L2 Caches to satisfy the rising demand for more powerful processing capability.
Intel 955X chipset
The Intel 955X is the latest chipset designed to support maximum 8GB dual-channel DDR2 667/533 architecture, 1066/800 FSB (front-side-bus), PCI Express x16 graphics and dual-core CPU. Easily build an entertainment PC or create a multimedia environment with its exceptionally high bandwidth. Together with the 4 Serial ATA ports enabled through the SATA 3Gb/s RAID controller integrated in the ICH7R Southbridge, the Intel 955X satisfies multi-task processing and data security.
Intel® MPT (Intel® Memory Pipeline Technology)
The Intel® Memory Pipeline Technology (Intel MPT) delivers additional system-level performance by optimizing memory access between CPU and system memory, and allows increased performance at standard operating specifications.
Native DDR2 800 Support
To attain top performance, ASUS engineers successfully unleashed the true potential of DDR2 memory. Native DDR2 800 maximizes system performance by eliminating the bottleneck when overclocking both the CPU and memory, providing great performance for 3D graphics and other memory demanding applications.
Universal PCI-E Slot
The Universal PCI Express technology offers utilization flexibility of the Southbridge PCI Express interface. It enables users to plug in an additional PCI Express graphics card to set up a dual graphics card platform on a single motherboard. ASUS’ own smart quick switch further detects how users installed their PCI Express devices, and intelligently reroutes the PCI Express lanes for optimized bandwidth allocation.
AI NOS
Applications such as 3D games and video editing demand a huge chunk of system resource.
Inject ""nitrous oxide"" into your CPU! The patented AI NOS(Non-delay Overclocking System) technology intelligently detects system load and automatically boosts performance for the most demanding tasks. Unlike other dynamic overclocking techniques, AI NOS reacts much faster to satisfy your unending need for speeds .
PEG Link
This latest technology, PEG (PCI Express Graphics) Link Mode, is a unique feature that enables users to boost graphics card performance for superior video quality.
PEG Link allows users to raise GPU and VGA memory throughput via the motherboard BIOS the same way system bus and memory bus are tweaked. PEG Link Mode enables powerful video performance on DX8 and DX9 applications. ASUS engineers carefully fine-tuned the parameters for every single PCI-Express card to provide system stability during high-speed graphics operation.
Precision Tweaker
Precision Tweaker is designed for serious overclockers. It offers ways to raise system performance inch-by-inch and step-by-step to achieve maximum performance! This is about getting the most out of your machine, and taking pride in your customized computer. Precision Tweaker provides overclocking options for all major parts of the system: CPU, Memory, PCI-Express, and Front Side Bus.

- vDIMM
Take control of how much power is going into the memory modules. ASUS gives you 8-step voltage control to the DIMM
- vCore
Find out ""exactly"" how much power your CPU needs. Fine-tune it with 0.0125 volts at a time
- PCI-Express x16 Frequency
Explore the frequency options of your PCI-Express x16 graphics card
- SFS
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection) allow FSB tuning from 100MHz up to 450MHz at 1MHz increments.
ASUS CPU Lock Free
The P5WD2 Premium now offer the CPU Lock Free feature, which allows you to adjust CPU multiplier to 14x. The reduction of multiplier value provides more flexibility for increasing external FSB frequency to raise memory bus bandwidth. CPU Lock Free boosts overall system performance by making synchronous modification possible. Enjoy better performance at the same CPU operation speed and improve your system without pushing the CPU to the limit.

 

PCI Express Architecture
PCI Express is the latest I/O interconnect technology that will replace the existing PCI. With a bus bandwidth 4 times higher than that of AGP 8X interface, PCI Express x16 bus performs much better than AGP 8X in applications such as 3D gaming. PCI Express x1 also outperforms PCI interface with its exceptional high bandwidth up to 500MB/s. The high speed PCI Express interface creates new usages on desktop PCs e.g., Gigabit LAN, 1394b, and high-speed RAID systems.
Theatre-Level Audio
A person who truly knows good entertainment appreciates good acoustic presence. AI Life Series motherboards offer theatre-level 7.1 surround sound and audio spec higher than that of DVD. Enjoy true home theatre experience with Dolby Digital Live (Dolby Home Theatre), appreciate the quality of sound, and indulge your sense of hearing.
Dual Gigabit LAN
The integrated dual Gigabit LAN design allows a PC to serve as a network gateway for managing traffic between two separate networks. This capability ensures rapid transfer of data from WAN to LAN without any added arbitration or latency. No more bottleneck to handle large amounts of data such as video, audio, and voice.
Dual Gigabit LAN
The integrated dual Gigabit LAN design allows a PC to serve as a network gateway for managing traffic between two separate networks. This capability ensures rapid transfer of data from WAN to LAN without any added arbitration or latency. No more bottleneck to handle large amounts of data such as video, audio, and voice.
Dual RAID
The onboard Silicon Image Sil3132 and the Intel ICH7R southbridge provide the best solution to your RAID requirements on different storage standards. The Intel ICH7R supports RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 and Intel Matrix RAID Technology on 4 Serial ATA ports. The Silicon Image Sil3132 controller offers 2 additional SATA interfaces and allows RAID 0 and RAID 1 functions for best data security.
IEEE 1394
IEEE 1394 interface provides high speed digital interface for audio / video appliances such as digital television, digital video camcorders, storage peripherals & other PC portable devices.
S/PDIF-out on Back I/O Port
This motherboard provides convenient connectivity to external home theater audio systems via an optical or coaxial S/PDIF-out (SONY-PHILIPS Digital Interface) jack. It allows to transfer digital audio without converting to analog format and keeps the best signal quality.
WinDVD Suite
ASUS motherboards, intensifying leadership in the IT industry, now bundle the versatile InterVideo WinDVD Suite. This multifaceted software set includes the latest multimedia software, bringing forth the multimedia features of ASUS motherboards to the best! (OEM version)

You can see the full, detailed specification table below:

CPU
- LGA775 socket for Intel® Pentium 4/Celeron CPU
- Intel Pentium® Processor Extreme Edition & Intel
Pentium® D Processor ready
- Compatible with Intel® 05B/ 05A and 04B/04A processors
- Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology ready
Chipset
Intel 955X
Intel ICH7R
Front Side Bus
1066/ 800/ 533 MHz
Memory
Dual channel memory architecture
4 x 240-pin DIMM sockets support max. 8GB DDR2 800/ 667/ 533 ECC and non-ECC memory
Native DDR2 800 Support
Intel MPT (Intel Memory Pipeline Technology)
Expansion Slots
1 x PCI Express x16 slot for discrete graphics card
1 x Universal PCI-E Slot ( x4 mode)
1 x PCI Express x1
3 x PCI
Storage/RAID
Intel ICH7R South Bridge:
*1 x UltraDMA 100/66/33
*4 x Serial ATA I/II 3.0Gb/s with Intel Matrix Storage Technology with RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 support

Silicon Image 3132 SATA controller:
*1 x Internal Serial ATA I/II
*1 x External Serial ATA

ITE IDE controller:
* 2 x UltraDMA 133/100/66
LAN
Dual Gigabit LAN controllers:
*1 x Intel PCIe Gigabit LAN Controller
*1 x Marvell 88E8001 Gigabit LAN Controller, featuring AI NET2
Audio
Realtek ALC882D High Definition Audio 8-channel CODEC
Support Multi-streaming, Jack-sensing and Jack-retasking functions
Coaxial, Optical S/PDIF out on back I/O port
Features Dolby Digital Live technology
IEEE 1394
TI 1394a controller supports 2 x 1394a ports
USB
Max. 8 USB2.0/1.1 ports
ASUS AI Life Features
WiFi-TV PCI card (optional)
(Optional, for WiFi-TV Edition only)
-Digital TV(DVB-T only), Analog TV, FM
-WiFi@home 802.11a/b/g
Stack Cool 2 patented fanless cooling system
"SATA on the Go" External SATA connector
AI Quiet
Overclocking Features
AI NOS (Non-delay Overclocking System)
ASUS CPU Lock Free
Precision Tweaker:
- vDIMM: 8-step DRAM voltage control
- vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.0125 increment
- SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection): allowing FSB tuning from 100MHz up to 450MHz at 1MHz increment
- PCIe x16 Frequency: allowing PCIe x16 frequency from 90MHz up to 150MHz at 1MHz increment
AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
Adjustable FSB/DDR ratio. Fixed PCI/PCIe frequencies.
ASUS AI Booster utility
ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Other ASUS Special Features
CrashFree BIOS 2
Q-Fan2
Multi-language BIOS
MyLogo2
BIOS
8 Mb Flash ROM,AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.3
Manageability
WOL by PME,WOR by PME, Chassis Intrusion
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x Parallel
1 x Optical + 1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Output
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x PS/2 Mouse
2 x RJ45
4 x USB 2.0/1.1
1 x IEEE1394a
1 x External SATA port
8-Channel Audio I/O
Internal I/O Connectors
2 x USB 2.0 connectors supports additional 4 USB 2.0 ports
1 x IEEE1394a connectors
1 x COM connector
1 x GAME/MIDI connector
CPU / 2 x Chassis / Power Fan connectors
Front panel High Definition Audio connector
Chassis Intrusion connector
CD audio-in connector
24-pin ATX Power connector
4-pin ASUS EZ Plug connector
Support CD
Drivers
ASUS PC Probe 2
ASUS LiveUpdate Utility
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Accessories
InterVideo WinDVD Suite (OEM version)
1 x IEEE1394a port module
5 x SATA cables
SATA power cable for 5 devices
1 x 2-port USB2.0 / Game module
1 x COM Port module
1 x GT Soft Bridge for future upgrade
2 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
1 x IDE cable
1 x FDD cable
1 x I/O Shield
User' s manual
WiFi-TV Accessories (bundle version only)
CyberLink PowerCinema (OEM version)
PAL to NTSC Adapter
1 x Omnidirectional dual-band wireless antenna
1 x FM Antenna
1 x Remote control + USB Receiver
WiFi-TV User's Manual
CyberLink PowerDirector
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9.6"(30.5cm x 24.5cm)

2. The mainboard - Packaging

The P5WD2 Premium is designed on a black PCB, common among Asus high grade motherboards, with colour-coded components. The layout of the connections and interfaces placed on the board is well thought out and in a way that makes it easy to identify them.

With the P5WD2 Premium, Asus has adapted its Stack Cool 2, a fanless and zero-noise thermal solution that provides cooling to the board. An extra layer underneath the whole board improves the heat dissipation. According to Asus, this can lower the board's temperature by up to 20°C.

The P5WD2 Premium, as with most of Asus' latest motherboards, has adopted a fanless design. There are 3 metal heatsinks, one for each of the MOSFETs (Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor), Northbridge and the MCP-04 Southbridge to maintain temperatures at low levels.


Intel MCH 955X


Intel ICH7R

Below, you can see the 775 socket for Intel's latest CPUs. The board also supports the new D series Dual CPUs from Intel.

The memory module slots are colored black and yellow. You can always put two memory modules of the same memory size and timings on the same slot color, to enable Dual Channel's symmetry mode support, or even use two memory modules of different memory sizes to use asymmetry mode.

On the back panel, you will find the keyboard and mouse (PS2) ports, audio port (digital, analog and coaxial), the parallel port, VGA out port, 4 USB2.0 ports, two RJ-45 Jacks and one IEEE1394a port. Thus there is a slot for external Serial ATA. This port according to Asus connects to an external SATA box or a Serial ATA multiplier that supports up to 16 devices and enables smart setup and hot-plug function.

There two more connections for extra USB and one for extra firewire.

The P5WD2 Premium has many connection options. The ICH7R South Bridge from Intel is responsible for the four SATA II ports and the one IDE, Primary, slot (the blue one). The two red IDE slots are from the ITE chipset while there are two more SATA ports, one positioned near the CPU socket, and the other available externally from the rear panel.

The IT8211F of ITE Tech's supports 2 ATA133 channels with 4 devices.

The Asus P5WD2 has two PCI-E X16 slots while there is also an SLI bridge included in the retail package. The first slot, coloured blue, is 16X in both single and dual video modes while the black can also be set to 2X, 4X or Auto. With NVidia's 7.1.8.4 drivers we used, we couldn't enable SLI for this board. Instead of this, the dual PCI-E video slots can be used for powering up four screens, in quad display.

The ATX power connections are one 24-pin and one 8-pin, which can also take 20-pin and 4-pin cables respectively.

A separate power cable is required for the VGA cards. If this is not connected, an adjacent red LED will light up.

Marvell® Yukon® Gigabit Ethernet connectivity solutions are designed for LAN on motherboard (LOM), NIC and embedded applications.  The Yukon products are well-suited for desktop, mobile and server network connections. Loaded with powerful manageability features, such as the Marvell Virtual Cable Tester® (VCT) technology and Wake-on-LAN support, the Yukon solution provides support for the broadest range of client and server platforms.

This small Winbond chip will provide your system with the ability to speak. It is a programmable speech synthesizer that will inform you if any error occurs during the BIOS self test scanning procedure. Users can edit and change these voices, and even add their own voice for every error that might occur.

- The package

The retail package for the P5WD2 Premium includes a large list of accessories :

Accessories InterVideo WinDVD Suite (OEM version)
1 x IEEE1394a port module
5 x SATA cables
SATA power cable for 5 devices
1 x 2-port USB2.0 / Game module
1 x COM Port module
1 x GT Soft Bridge for future upgrade
2 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
1 x IDE cable
1 x FDD cable
1 x I/O Shield
User' s manual
CyberLink PowerCinema (OEM version)
PAL to NTSC Adapter
1 x Omnidirectional dual-band wireless antenna
1 x FM Antenna
1 x Remote control + USB Receiver
WiFi-TV User's Manual
CyberLink PowerDirector


We liked, as always, the Asus manual. Very helpful...

Currently, the P5ND2 SLI-Deluxe, with an NForce4 based motherboard, has the better general performance, better than the P5AD2-E Premium with a 925XE. So it would be rather interesting to compare the P5WD2 Premium with the P5ND2 SLI-Deluxe. The component parts used for performing the reviews of both motherboards are the same and are listed on the following page.


3. Test System


Benchmarking Software
3DMark05,03,01
PCMark04
Codecreatures Benchmark Pro
AquaMark3 v3.0
Performance Test V5.0
Farcry v1.31
Half Life 2
Doom 3
Thief 3
Ground Control II
Colin McRae '05
CPU-Z v1.29


4. SLI Mode
With the most recent driver, we didn't manage to enable SLI mode for the dual VGA cards. Instead of this, the dual cards can be used for quad display.


Properties for the primary card


Properties for the secondary card

Both VGA cards were identified successfully by our system but as we mentioned previously, not in SLI mode.


5. 3DMark05

With 3DMark05, Futuremark continues the tradition in its benchmarking software by providing a state-of-the-art Microsoft ® DirectX ® 9 3D performance benchmark. 3DMark05 is an all new 3DMark version making the most of Microsoft's DirectX 9. The previous version 3DMark03, did a nice introduction into this level of technology. However 3DMark03 used DirectX 9 specific features in a limited manner, because fully supporting hardware was rare at the time of its launch. In contrast, 3DMark05 requires DirectX 9 hardware with full support for at least Shader Model 2, and takes shader usage to never before seen levels.

Just like its predecessors, 3DMark05's point system is set so that at the moment of release, the high-end VGA cards available in stores can only score around 5000 3DMarks, whereas the worst card that meets the programs requirements yields a score of 1000.

Game Test 1 -Return to Proxycon

Click to enlargeBeing the sequel to the "Battle of Proxycon" from 3DMark03, in "Return to Proxycon" we're once again set in space and the battle continues as space pirates invade a cargo ship in order to take control of its valuable cargo.

This test, tries to simulate a future first-person shooter game with all the high details that entails. The dynamic shadows, high-detailed environment and advanced lighting techniques ensure that under normal circumstances, no recent card can run it with decent frame rates.

Game Test 2 - Firefly Forest

Click to enlargeA forest gets filled with magic fireflies in the night. The moon is nearly full, illuminating the forest with a bluish faint light. The magic fireflies have flickering bright green lights that playfully move around the forest.

This scene is a nice example of a smaller scale outdoor scene with rich vegetation. Immediate visibility is not so far, and there is a skybox surrounding the whole scene.

A large number of trees with their branches swinging separately, and dense vegetation being dynamically distributed according to the camera movements, make this test the most demanding of the three.

Game Test 3 - Canyon Flight

Click to enlargeA Jules Verne type airship flies through a canyon guarded by a dangerous sea monster. The airmen defend their ship using heavy cannons, but these seem to have no effect on the huge sea monster. Finally the crew manages a narrow escape using the "last resort" afterburners of the airship.

This scene is fairly complex with large areas of water reflecting the high canyon walls. The water actually is one of the key points of interest in this scene. The water not only does realistic looking reflections and refractions, it has a depth fog, making the sea monster swimming under the airship actually look deep down in the water. The air in this scene also uses a volumetric fog, making distant cliffs of the canyon really look far away.

Slightly higher framerates for the P5WD2 Premium. As we mentioned previously, the components, such as VGA card, DDR2 memory, CPU, etc., were exactly the same for both boards.

Final Score

 3DMarks on 3DMark05 are now calculated by the following formula:

(Game Test 1 * Game Test 2 * Game Test 3)^0.33 * 250

This is basically the geometric mean of the total frames in each game multiplied by 250. This means that all game tests are now equal.

Better performance from the new 955X based motherdboard.


6. 3DMark03

3D Mark is a widely used and accepted benchmark that stresses the DirectX performance of a VGA card. A very strong point of 3DMark is that it's VGA card measuring is does not require any CPU power. So the resulting fps are a good reference a VGA card's rendering performance. For testing the performance of each card we used the 4 game benchmarks 3DMark has.

3Dmark03 also includes sound and CPU tests as well as some other feature tests.

- Game Test 1 - Wings of Fury (DX7)

This test is a combat flight simulator written for older hardware (DirectX 7). Particles are used a lot in this test - smoke and vapor trails, flak and gunfire, and explosions are produced using point sprites and quads.

- Game Test 2 - Battle of Proxycon (DX8)

This test is a simulation of first person shooter game types. 1.1 and 1.4 Vertex shaders are widely used since all character models are skinned using vertex shaders.This makes this test a good vertex shader comparison for VGA cards.

- Game Test 3 - Trolls' Lair (DX8)

This test should be the favorite of all RPG lovers. It is a cut scene of a female warrior facing two malicious trolls. Again the same vertex and pixel processing is used as in game test 2.

This test also uses post-processing effects, such as Depth of Field and Bloom effects which are widely used in today's game cut scene sequences.

- Game Test 4 - Mother Nature (DX9)

Mother nature represents the level of effects and realism that are possible using 2.0 vertex and pixel shaders, plus some other features that DirectX 9 offers.

With this benchmark, the framerates are even higher for the P5WD2 Premium.

- 3DMark Official score

If you test your machine with 3DMark, you can post the results at 3DMark's online result browser. For more information visit futuremark.com.

The overall 3DMark score is much higher for the P5WD2 Premium. It seems that the P5ND2-SLI Deluxe has a stronger rival :-)


7. Codecreatures

CodeCreatures is a synthetic 3D benchmark that is a good reference for VGA performance comparison. This is a high-end 3D benchmark that also requires DirectX 8 hardware, making a good tool for measuring the potential of DirectX 8 game performance.

The Codecreatures benchmark is written with Microsoft's DirectX 8.1 API and incorporates the use of Vertex and PixelShaders popular on next generation 3D accelerators.

The benchmark plays a photo-realistic nature scene and calculates the performance of the graphics adapter by measuring the fps that it can display at 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 resolutions.

Although the difference in framerates is not too great, it also cannot be considered as negligible since both boards shared the exact same components.

-Codecreatures number

The codecreatures number is the resulting score of the total benchmarking process and is basically the geometric mean of the three frame rates multiplied by 100.

The numbers speak for themselves...


8. Aquamark/3DMark 2001

Since the majority of today's applications and games are compatible with DirectX 9, the need of benchmark applications that use DX 9 has been brought up. The benchmark uses the 3D engine (Krass engine) of the Aquanox game.

 

Aquamark Triscore

The Aquamark Triscore comprises 3 values: the overall system performance, the performance of the graphics system and the CPU performance. Keep in mind that this is not the total result of the tests, but the result of the whole benchmark process including all 9 chapters.

3DMark 2001

3DMark 2001 is the predecessor to 3DMark03. It's mainly a directx8.1 benchmark and the score depends a lot on the CPU power of your computer. However for reference use only we decided it'd be best to just leave it in our benchmark list so you can compare the next generation cards with the possibly outdated you have at home.

Better performance in both 3DMark01 and Aquamark 3 for the P5ND2-SLI Deluxe motherboard with the Intel CPU. This performance is close enough to that of an X850XT.

PCMark 2004

PCMark04 is an application-based benchmark and a premium tool for measuring overall PC performance. It uses portions of real applications instead of including very large applications or using specifically created code. This allows PCMark04 to be a smaller installation as well as to report very accurate results. As far as possible, PCMark04 uses public domain applications whose source code can be freely examined by any user.

PCMark04 includes 4 categorized suites for benchmarking your computer. These include CPU, Graphics, Memory and a Hard Disk Drive benchmark.

In all tests, the P5WD2 Premium showed its supremacy.


9. Half Life 2

Half life 2 is no doubt the most anticipated pc game of all times. Gamers keeping the excellence of Half Life 1 in their mind as well as the remarkable E3 demo preview, have been anxiously waiting for the much delayed release of HL2.

Characters - Advanced facial animation system delivers the most sophisticated in-game characters ever seen. With 40 distinct facial "muscles," human characters convey the full array of human emotion, and respond to the player with fluidity and intelligence.

Physics - From pebbles to water to 2-ton trucks respond as expected, as they obey the laws of mass, friction, gravity, and buoyancy.

Graphics - Source's shader-based renderer, like the one used at Pixar to create movies such as Toy Story® and Monster's, Inc.®, creates the most beautiful and realistic environments ever seen in a video game.

AI - Neither friends nor enemies charge blindly into the fray. They can assess threats, navigate tricky terrain, and fashion weapons from whatever is at hand.

To measure performance we used the Video Stress Test(VST) that is available in the CounterStrike:Source beta available through Steam. We set all the details to the highest level and each time changed the resolution from 800x600 up to 1600x1200.

Even with games, it seems that the 955X Northbridge will provide a small increase in framerates, no matter what the resolution or the AntiAliasing/Anisotropic Filtering settings.


10. Doom 3

A massive demonic invasion has overwhelmed the Union Aerospace Corporations? (UAC) Mars Research Facility leaving only chaos and horror in its wake. As one of the few survivors, you struggle with shock and fear as you fight your way to Hell and back, in an epic clash against pure evil.

Activision made it's miracle again with Doom 3 which is said to be the best-looking game ever, thanks to the brand-new OpenGL graphics engine used to generate its convincingly lifelike, densely atmospheric, and surprisingly expansive environments. If you are a fan of the previous Doom games then you will get many flashbacks with this revision, since you will find re-imagined versions of almost every monster from both Doom and Doom II.

To measure performance on the game we used the timedemo demo1 command from the console (Alt+Ctrl+~).
Enabling the high quality setting and executing the timedemo demo1 command twice for each resolution, we witnessed the following:

First, without the Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering settings enabled, we got the following results:

Once again the P5WD2 Premium leads the race, even if only by a small difference.


11. FarCry

You are Jack Carver running your own boat charter business in beautiful Micronesia. With a past best left behind you, you'll be focusing on your present assignment: escorting an ambitious journalist named Valerie Cortez to the Island of Cabatu. It seems like a piece of cake, but you'll soon learn: paradise can be hell.

Farcry is an awesome First Person Shooter (FPS) based on a last generation 3D engine named as CryEngine. Real-time editing, bump-mapping, static lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows and a dynamic music system are just some of the state of-the-art features that the CryEngine offers.

A great advantage and strong point of the CryEngine is its physics system which supports character inverse kinematics, vehicles, rigid bodies, liquid, rag doll, cloth and body effects. All physics seem to be very realistic and you never get bored when facing enemies, since character models have multiple animations that blend in believable ways.

With an integrated shader system and a massive terrain which maximizes the view distance to 2km, these features make Farcry a perfect action game and also a referable benchmark to speak of.

- Benchmark Settings

For this game we recorded a custom demo from the start of the Rebellion stage. We chose an indoor scene in order to avoid getting the CPU-bound effect. This will result in slightly higher results since it is also less GPU intensive, but we can't afford being stuck at 40-50 fps because of our CPU.

The latest patch (1.3) was used for our tests which updates the game's graphics engine to use the 3.0 Shader model. This option is only supported for the 6800 series.

The resolutions we ran the demo under are the following: 800x600,1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200.

Same story here, the P5WD2 Premium reported better performance.


12. Thief 3

Instead of Deus Ex from now on we'll be testing our cards using Thief 3. It's based on the same engine but it's much less GPU intensive and playable by more VGA cards than Deus.

The game makes severe use of Pixel Shader 1.1 instructions, the bloom effect and stencil shadows to achieve a wonderful result in your screen.

In the game you play the part of Master Thief Garrett who is back to rule out any evil forces using his unique stealth abilities. Deadly Shadows shows what stealth gameplay is all about. This game really gives you the feel of sneaking around and holding your breath when stuck in a sticky situation.

Since there is no official benchmark for the game, we'll do our tests using a GPU intensive scene from the tutorial-level which we believe that represents the average fps you'll get when playing the game.

Thief 3 is a torture test for graphics cards. All lower class cards fail to provide stable performance in this benchmark when selecting full details from the settings menu.

This is the first time where both systems reported the same performance.


13. Colin McRae 2005

For all you racing fans out there, this test is for you and will represent the Racing game category in our benchmarks.

From the graphics point of view the first thing you'll notice in the game is the excellent amount detail of your racing car. High resolution textures on the car and lighting make it quite impressive. All the eye candy such as the sun reflection in the virtual camera are still the same as the older CM versions but motion blur has been added when your card hits something hard which will happen most often if you're new to the racing simulation world.

To measure performance on the game we used fraps to get the average fps of the whole 8th stage of UK which is actually the only stage you get to play on the demo.

Higher frame rates for the P5WD2 Premium board with Anisotropic filtering and Anti-Aliasing disabled. Although this is a feature handled by the VGA card, when we enabled Anisotropic filtering and Anti-Aliasing, the P5ND-SLI Deluxe reported better performance.


14. Ground Control II

Ground Control II is an action-oriented game of tactics and warfare. As Captain Jacob Angelus of the Northern Star Alliance, you will command squads of infantry, artillery, and air power against the might of the Empire of Terra. Base building and resource-collecting are replaced with unit control and combat tactics where your knowledge of the battlefield maneuvers will make the difference in your fight against a ruthless enemy. Position your troops on hilltops for better aim or inside buildings and forests for protection as you'll need to use every inch of terrain to your advantage.

For our benchmarks, we used the highest possible settings on the first mission of the single player game and moved around the camera to get an average frame rate using fraps.

Ground Control II offers really impressive graphics without requiring much GPU power. Click on the picture above to view a screenshot from the game. Check out these excellent water effects!

Since the benchmark is not GPU based, the difference between the two boards is dependent on the CPU and the motherboard itself. No matter what the resolution, the P5WD2 Premium reported higher framerates in all cases.


15. Performance Test v5.0

The PassMark Performance Test suite contains a number of suites with different tests to measure different aspects of a computer system.

The "PassMark rating" is a weighted average of all the other test results and gives a single overall indication of the computer's performance. The bigger the number, the faster the computer. The "PassMark rating" can only be calculated if the results from all other tests are available. The value is calculated as follows.

Test Suite Weighting
Disk 20%
CD / DVD 9%
Memory 18%
3D Graphics 12%
2D Graphics 14%
CPU 27%
Total 100%

The total score for the P5WD2 Premium is:

...while for the P5ND2 SLI Deluxe:

More details:

Tests P5WD2 P5ND2

16. Overclocking

Either from the BIOS or with AIBooster, we managed to overclock our Intel P4 3.73GHz Extreme Edition, with the appropriate adjustments, up to 4.34GHz.

According to the overclocking tests we carried out in our previous review concerning the P5ND2-SLI Deluxe motherboard, the maximum speed we managed to achieve for the same CPU was 4.28GHz.

It seems the newest 955X chipset is even better even for overclocking.


17. BIOS - Page 1

When opening the system, the following Asus logo screen will appear. You can disable this and go straight to the BIOS POST messages.


Asus Logo


Main Boot Screen

When entering the BIOS, the following screen is what you'll see first.


Bios main Screen


Hardware Information


Advanced Settings Main Screen


Power Main Screen


Hardware Monitor


Boot Main Screen


Boot Settings Configuration


Exit Screen

Detailed information about each setting in the BIOS can be found in the board's manual.


18. BIOS - Page 2

If you want to play with the advanced settings on the Asus motherboard (there are plenty of them), you'll have to enter the Advanced screen, as shown below. In the JumperFree Configuration menu, you can change the CPU, Memory and PCI-E frequencies, select between overclocking profiles, change the voltage for the CPU, Memory, etc.


Advanced Main Screen


JumperFree Configuration


Overclock Profiles


Memory Frequency


PCI-E Frequency


Memory Voltage


CPU Voltage


CPU Configuration


Chipset Setup

From the OnBoard Devices Configuration menu you can enable or disable the LAN, Firewire, SATA, etc.


OnBoard Devices Configuration


USB Configuration

Detailed information about each setting in the BIOS can be found in the board's manual. We highly recommend you to read it first, before proceeding with any overclocking attempts.


19. Asus Update

The Software CD included in the retail package includes the following:


Drivers


Utilities

Asus' Update is a very helpful utility which helps locate the appropriate firmware revision for the motherboard and flash it.

We highly recommend downloading the BIOS from the internet first, and then proceeding with the flashing procedure.

You can see the BIOS details with the appropriate selection from the drop down menu.


20. Asus PCProbeII

We highly recommend you install this software. It will provide you with helpful information about your system.

This time Asus has updated its PC Probe with a more impressive layout.

Voltage, temperatures, fan speeds, etc., is some of the information you can check.

You can also be informed of the HD and RAM condition as well as CPU usage.


21. Asus AIBooster

AIBooster is a convenient utility to help overclock your system. With AIBooster, there is no need to enter the BIOS. However, we think that the BIOS is still the best and safest way to do overclocking.

You can select between some pre-set overclocking profiles, the same as those you'll find in the BIOS.

.

Similarly, you can also of manually adjust the CPU or Memory Voltages as well as the FSB speed.

After any change, you'll have to restart your system. You'll be informed with the appropriate message.


22. WiFi-TV set

The specific retail package we received from Asus was the which also included the WiFi-TV and its accessories.

There is an Analog TV port, another for Digital TV and FM radio, an Audio-Video input and finally the WiFi antenna port. Next to it there is also a green activity led.

The package also includes a remote control and USB receiver.

The Wi-Fi card has adopted Marvell's chipset, the 88W8335. For the TV Tuner functions, the Philips SAA7131E digital decoder is responsible.

There is an extra software installation CD for the WiFi with drivers and the appropriate software.

Power Cinema will help you when using the TV or listening to the radio.

If the TV channel supports teletext, you'll be able to use it with Power Cinema.

For making your own movies, PowerDirector is included in the software package.


23. Conclusion

The P5WD2 Premium is currently the flagship motherboard from Asus and from this, you can expect that it will be a featured packed motherboard. Everything you'll ever ask for in a motherboard is already supported and included inside the packaging. Wireless LAN, PCI-Express, Gigabit LAN, HD-AUDIO, SATA II /IDE RAID, Dual Channel, N.O.S. WiFi-TV are only some of the board's long list of features. All this on a well designed and high quality construction PCB with Stack Cool 2. Plenty of cables and software are also included.

We liked the ProbeII utility which allows you to monitor your system from within Windows. Temperatures, Voltages and fan rotation speed are some of the things it will inform you on. The bundle software also includes AIBooster, which will help amateur and advanced users increase the speed of their system. Finally, with Asus Update, you can easily locate BIOS upgrades and drivers for your motherboard and flash them from Windows.

 

To measure the performance of the P5WD2 Premium, we ran a series of tests covering both 2D and 3D applications. The motherboard managed to surprise us as it out-performed both of its rivals in all of our benchmarks. Until now, it was said that the P5ND2-SLI Deluxe had the best overall performance. According to our tests, the P5WD2 Premium managed to be faster in all tasks than the NForce4 based motherboard. Benchmarks and games, actual performance, confirmed this.

The overclocking capabilities of the P5WD2 Premium were also great. Easily, without any advanced knowledge, you can increase the FSB speed, the memory speed, adjust the DDR2 timings, etc. The result of this was our P4 3.73GHz Extreme Edition processor ran at 4.34GHz, the highest speed we have achieved. Note that our DDR2 memory from Corsair ran at 1000MHz!

The price at the time of the review was US$272 from newegg.com for the retail package, including the WiFi-TV option. The price is a little high but keep in mind that it is about a motherboard with the latest available chipset on the market, the 955X, a full package and WiFi TV support. A little lower price however would be welcomed :-)

Pros:

Cons:

Features
Performance
BIOS/Overclocking
Value for money


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