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This story was printed from CdrInfo.com,
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Appeared on: Friday, May 19, 2006
ASUS P5WD2-E Premium


1. Introduction

The P5WD2-E Premium is a recent release and is the flagship socket 775 motherboard from ASUS, based on the i975X chipset. It has two PCI Express x 16 slots, Crossfire support, while there is a Dual Gigabit LAN and RAID support. High Definition 8-channel audio and eight USB2.0 ports are just some of the board's other features.

- Features

AI Life Series
AI Life Series motherboards bring lifestyle and personal computing together. 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.
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.
Supports Intel® Dual/Single-Core 65nm Processors
This motherboard supports Intel 65nm Pentium D/ Intel Pentium 4/ Celeron processors. ASUS motherboard is the ideal solution to enhance the performance of new generation processors.
Intel 975X chipset
The Intel 975X 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 975X 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.
ATI CrossFire Technology
ATI's CrossFire boosts image quality along with rendering speed, eliminating the need to crank down screen resolutions to get the high image quality you want. CrossFire ignites with the higher antialiasing, anisotropic filtering, shading, and texture settings you desire. Adjust your display configurations, experiment with your advanced 3D settings, and check the effect with a real-time 3D-rendered preview within ATI's Catalyst™ Control Center to rule your CrossFire system.

 

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.
Fanless Design
Cooling fans, though a popular thermal solution, also come with noise and malfunction likelihood. ASUS Motherboard's fanless concept is specifically created to provide a cool environment without all the baggage. ASUS has devoted special efforts to address the thermal issues across the motherboard, and most notably the areas that reside the CPU, power, Northbridge and Southbridge. The heat sinks and strategic board layout are tailor made to dissipate heat in the most efficient manner. With the addition of Stack Cool 2, users can even overclock without a noisy, bulky fan.
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.
ASUS Hyper Path3
Data transfers within the system are made possible by various mechanisms that synchronize the sending and receiving of commends among components. Unfortunately, these mechanisms cause data transfer delays known as latency time. This unique feature significantly shortens latency time during data transfers, allowing users to experience the real power of their computers.
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 emory modules. ASUS gives you 12-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.

 

Dolby Master Studio
A person who truly knows good entertainment appreciates good acoustic presence. AI Life Series motherboards offer 8-channel audio output and sound spec higher than that of DVD. Enjoy true home theatre experience with the supreme Dolby Master Studio and hear your movies in 7.1 surround sound. With the P5WD2-E Premium, appreciate the quality of sound, and indulge your sense of hearing.
- Dolby Prologic IIx -Dolby Digital EX
- Dolby Headphone -Dolby Virtual speaker
- Dolby Digital Live
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.
IEEE 1394a
IEEE 1394a interface provides high speed digital interface for audio / video appliances such as digital television, digital video camcorders, storage peripherals & other PC portable devices.
Compliance with the RoHS Directive
The motherboard and its packaging comply with the European Union's Restriction on the use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS). This is in line with the ASUS vision of creating environment-friendly and recyclable products and packaging to safeguard consumers' health while minimizing the impact on the environment.
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)

The specifications are listed in the table below:

CPU LGA775 socket for Intel® Pentium 4/Celeron CPU
Support Intel Pentium® Processor Extreme Edition & Intel Pentium® D Processor
Support Intel next generation 65nm CPU
Compatible with Intel® 05B/ 05A and 04B/04A processors
Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology ready
Chipset Intel® 975X
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)
ASUS Hyper Path3
Expansion Slots 2 x PCI Express x 16 slot for discrete graphics card
1 x Universal PCI-E (max. x2 speed)
1 x PCI Express x 1
3 x PCI
CrossFire Support ATI CrossFire graphics cards (both @ x8 mode)
Storage/RAID Intel® ICH7R South Bridge:
*1 x UltraDMA 100/66/33
*4 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s with Intel® Matrix Storage Technology with RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 support

Marvell® 88SE6141 SATA/ATA controller
*4 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s
(Note: The SATA_RAID4 connector and External SATA port can not be used simultaneously)
*1 x External Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s
*1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66
LAN Dual Gigabit LAN controllers
*2 x Marvell 88E8053 Gigabit LAN Controller, both featuring AI NET2
Audio Realtek ALC882M 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® Master Studio technology
IEEE 1394 TI 1394 controller supports 2 x 1394a ports
USB Max. 8 USB2.0/1.1 ports
ASUS AI Life Features 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
ASUS PEG Link
Precision Tweaker:
- vDIMM: 12-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, PXE & RPL
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 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
2 x IDE connector
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
8 x Serial ATA connectors
(Note: The SATA_RAID4 connector and External SATA port can not be used simultaneously)
2 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
System panel connector
4-pin ASUS EZ Plug connector
2 x 4-pin EATX12V Power 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
6 x SATA cables
3 x SATA power cable for 6 devices
1 x 2-port USB2.0 / Game module
1 x COM Port module
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
1 x IDE cable
1 x FDD cable
1 x I/O Shield
User' s manual
Form Factor ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9.6"(30.5cm x 24.5cm)

2. A Closer Look

The P5WD2-E Premium, as with most of the ASUS Deluxe motherboards, is manufactured on a black PCB. The layout of the interface connections makes them easily accessible and the colour coding helps in identifying them.

The P5WD2-E Premium employs the STACK COOL 2 technology, a cooling solution that lowers the temperature of critical heat generating components by up to 20°C. The motherboard uses a special design on the printed circuit board (PCB) to dissipate heat that critical components generate.

With the P5WD2-E Premium, Asus has once again used its fanless design, well known from previous latest model motherboards. There are three aluminium fanless heatsinks.

Below is the 775 socket for the Intel CPU.

The memory module slots, are colour coded black and yellow. You put two memory modules of the same memory size in the same coloured slots, to enable Dual Channel's symmetry mode support, or use two memory modules of different memory sizes for asymmetric mode.

On the back panel, you will find the keyboard and mouse (PS2) ports, audio ports (digital, analog and coaxial), one parallel port, 4 USB2.0 ports, and two RJ-45 ports. There's also an external Serial ATA connection. As for the IEEE1394a port, you have to install the appropriate component, which is included in the package.

There are two more connections on board, for extra USB, as well as two for firewire.

The ICH7R Serial ATA connectors come with RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10 support, based on the ICH7R RAID controller.

Marvell's chipset handles four more Serial ATA connectors and the Marvell IDE connector which supports up to two IDE devices.

The Marvell 88SE6141 controller is responsible for the SATA II and PATA capabilities,

Below, you can see the Primary IDE channel connector.

As you can see below, there are 2 x PCI Express x 16 slots, with Crossfire support, 1 x Universal PCI-E (max. x2 speed), 1 x PCI Express x 1and 3 x PCI.

Apart from the CPU fan power connection, there are three more on the motherboard.

There are two Marvell 88E8053 controllers, in charge of the Dual Gigabit LAN, both featuring AI NET2.

The P5WD2-E Premium also hosts the Realtek ALC882M High Definition Audio 8-channel CODEC, which supports Multi-streaming, Jack-sensing and Jack-retasking functions.

- The package

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

Accessories InterVideo® WinDVD Suite (OEM version)
1 x IEEE1394a port module
6 x SATA cables
3 x SATA power cable for 6 devices
1 x 2-port USB2.0 / Game module
1 x COM Port module
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
1 x IDE cable
1 x FDD cable
1 x I/O Shield
User' s manual
Support CD Drivers
ASUS PC Probe 2
ASUS LiveUpdate Utility
Anti-virus software (OEM version)

Everything you need to know is included in the very good manual, and it is worth spending a little time reading it.


3. Test System - Configuration


Benchmarking Software
3DMark05,03,01
PCMark04, 05
Codecreatures Benchmark Pro
Performance Test V5.0
Half Life 2
Quake 4
F.E.A.R
Need For Speed - Most Wanted

For this review, we will compare the performance of the P5WD2-E Premium motherboard with that of the Foxconn 975X7AA, both based on the same chipset, the i975X.


4. 3DMark2005

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.

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.

Almost identical score for both motherboards. The slightly higher score from the ASUS motherboard is insignificant. Moreover, the reported framerates in the games benchmarks were identical.


5. 3DMark2003

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.

Once again, quite close results for both boards. The negligible difference in game framerates, rewards the ASUS with 17 3DMarks more than the Foxconn motherboard.

- 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.


6. 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.

-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.

No real difference between the two motherboards here as well. Almost the same framerates and overall score.


7. Aquamark - 3DMark01

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.

Unfortunately, we couldn't run the Aquamark 3 benchmark. The program either ended with an error or the PC froze up with a 'black screen'.

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.

The 3DMark score for the ASUS motherboard is a little higher.


8. 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.

In most cases, games more closely reflect the true performance of a system. In Half Life 2, both motherboards again had similar performance, without any real difference in framerates.


9. 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 logged the following results:

It seems that the scene is again the same here. Both boards reported the same framerates in Doom 3.


10. F.E.A.R.

You aren't a soldier. You are a weapon. A paramilitary force infiltrates a multi billion dollar aerospace compound taking hostages, but issuing no demands.

The government responds by sending in its best special operations teams, only to have them obliterated. Live footage of the massacre is cut short by an unexpected wave of destruction that leaves military leaders stunned and in disbelief.

First Encounter Assault Recon (F.E.A.R.) is one of the new-generation FPS. The graphics are really stunning, the plot behind the whole shooting successfully keeps it interesting and even the A.I. seems to work out well.

F.E.A.R. offers a lot to the First Person Shooter world. The graphics are very clear with excellent textures, great new effects that will stress your graphics card and ragdoll physics that are waiting to be exploited as you progress through the game.

- Benchmark Settings

F.E.A.R. allows you test the video settings on a mini-benchmark involving a lot of weapon firing, explosions and several other effects. After the benchmark is run, you're presented with a screen showing your minimum, average and maximum framerates and also percentages of how often the framerate was below 25fps, between 25 and 40, and finally above 40. For this presentation, we're just sticking to the minimum and average framerates.

The resolutions we used were 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x960 and 1600x1200. We measured performance with high and highest details.

F.E.A.R. is a rather demanding game and it is a good judge of performance. But once again, there was nothing between the ASUS and Foxconn motherboards.


11. Need For Speed - Most Wanted

Wake up to the smell of burnt asphalt as the thrill of illicit street racing permeates the air.

Combining illicit street racing and tuner customization with the intensity of strategic police pursuit that surpasses any Hollywood-style chase scene, Need for Speed Most Wanted will be on every gamer's 'must-have' list this holiday season. Out-race rivals, evade cops and exploit hundreds of miles of open road as gamers make their way up the Blacklist.

To become the most wanted racer, players must build up their street cred and Rap Sheet with gripping, white knuckle, head-to-head races with the top drivers on the streets, as well as pull daring, evasive moves to out-run and out-fox the cops that patrol the open road. Players can manage their heat or utilize a number of strategic tactics to keep the cops off their tails as they leave their rivals behind to suck their exhaust fumes.

- Benchmark Settings

NFS Most Wanted does not include a default benchmark. To measure the card's performance, we've chosen to record the framerate at the start of a circuit race with end-game cars. The starting point tends to be one of the most graphically demanding parts because of the smoke coming from spinning wheels added to the rest of the game's visual effects. If a card can pass this step with an acceptable framerate, it is guaranteed that it will face no problems with the rest of the game.

The resolutions we used are 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200. We measured performance at the lowest and highest possible settings.

For the first time, the ASUS motherboard produces noticeably higher framerates. At all resolutions, there is a small advantage with the ASUS board.


12. Performance Test v5.0

The suite of the PassMark Performance Test 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 computers 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 Foxconn motherboard was awarded a higher score in the Passmark benchmark suite, but the difference is still negligible.


13. PCMark05

PCMark04 and 05 are application-based benchmarks 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 PCMark05 to be a smaller installation as well as to report very accurate results. As far as possible, PCMark05 uses public domain applications whose source code can be freely examined by any user.

Both PCMark04 and PCMark05 include 5 categorized suites for benchmarking your computer. These include System, CPU, Graphics, Memory and a Hard Disk Drive benchmark. In our case, we selected the system test suite which integrates tests included in the other categories.

A slightly better performance for the ASUS motherboard in both PCM04 and PCM05 benchmarks. Taking a closer, more analytical look at the PCM05 tests should reveal where the differences lie:

Test Foxconn ASUS  
HDD - XP Startup 8.133 7.959 MB/s
Physics and 3D 146.708 155.700 fps
2D - Transparent Windows 573.600 574.976 windows/sec
3D - Pixel Shader 119.193 119.245 fps
Web Page Rendering 3.268 3.391 pages/sec
File Decryption 82.074 82.254 MB/s
2D - Graphics Memory - 64 lines 1460.481 1461.313 fps
HDD - General Usage 4.908 4.771 MB/s
Multithread Test 1
Audio Compression 1405.124 1385.443 KB/s
Video Encoding 221.406 231.546 KB/s
Multithread Test 2
Text Edit 77.944 78.355 pages/sec
Image Decompression 17.866 17.785 MPixels/sec
Multithread Test 3
File Compression 3.546 3.695 MB/s
File Encryption 20.880 21.011 MB/s
HDD - Virus Scan 26.410 26.865 MB/s
Memory Latency - Random 16 MB 8.947 9.141 MAccesses/sec

In most tests, the ASUS motherboard shows slightly better performance, which explains the slightly higher score. However, there are also cases (e.g. XP Startup, HDD General Use) where the Foxconn is better.


14. Overclocking

In order to overclock our system we tried both from the BIOS setup and using the AiBooster utility from Windows.

Our Intel Pentium 4 EE 3.73GHz has a default FSB of 266MHz.

We increased the FSB up to 310MHz, with the appropriate increase in voltage for both memory and processor.


15. Bios - Page 1

Below you can see the main boot screens and BIOS setup for the P5WD2-E Premium motherboard.

The BIOS main screen includes five menu categories: Main, Advanced, Power, Boot and Exit.


16. Bios - Page 2

The BIOS Advanced menu option also includes the overclocking settings:


17. Software CD

The Software CD included in the retail package, has the following:


Drivers


Utilities

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

You can see BIOS details, with the appropriate selection in the drop down list:


18. PC Probe II

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

This time, Asus has upgraded its PC Probe, providing a more impressive layout.

If something isn't within specs or isn't working properly, the right panel lights up red.

Voltage, temperatures, fan speed are some of the parameters you can monitor.

You can also monitor the HD and RAM conditions as well as CPU Usage.


19. AiBooster

If you are not familiar with the BIOS setup, ASUS has provided an application called AiBooster, which will help you monitor and hopefully improve your system's performance. AiBooster is bundled in the software package.

The same preset overclocking profiles you find in BIOS are also available here.

You can also increase the voltage for the processor or the memory.

At the same time, you'll also be informed about the temperature of your CPU.


20. Conclusion

The P5WD2-E Premium has recently been released and is the flagship motherboard, for socket 775, from ASUS. Based on the Intel 975X chipset, the board retains the black PCB and its great quality, as is the case with most of the hi-end ASUS boards. It also incorporates the STACK COOL 2 technology, a unique feature from ASUS, whereby board uses fanless cooling which is apparent from the start, with virtually no noise at all. Two PCI Express x 16, Crossfire support, Dual Gigabit LAN, Dual RAID support, High Definition Audio 8-channel, up to eight USB2.0 ports and an external SATA connection are some of the many features.

The P5WD2-E Premium bundle has everything you will need. Our only complaint is with the firewire which takes up a PCI slot. One could have been included along with the other on-board connections on the back panel. As well, due to the price as we will see shortly, we believe a Wireless Lan could have been included.

The accompanying utilities and software are a strong feature of the P5WD2-E Premium. ASUS' AI Booster utility, PC Probe II and the ASUS update application are here to make things even easier for inexperienced users.

The performance of the P5WD2-E Premium was very good, and in comparison to other i975X based motherboards, the ASUS leads the race. The reported scores and framerates during our benchmarks confirmed this.

The price at the time of this review was US$230 from newegg.com. This is a little high, but latest releases and advanced technology costs a little extra.

 

Pros:

Cons:

Like to be fixed

Features
Performance
BIOS/Overclocking
Value for money



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