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Appeared on: Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Asus Commando


1. Introduction

Asus, one of the biggest motherboard manufacturer, has a long tradition in releasing "special" versions of motherboards offering unique features and performance. For the gaming arena, Asus has introduced many different motherboards, and certainly a motherboard with the codename "Commando" will certainly catch users attention. The Asus Commando is an Intel P965 based motherboard which offers what the P5B Deluxe has and even more. Higher overclocking possibilities with the simplicity of one button. Let's examine what the Asus Commando offers to its buyer.

- Asus Commando

Asus Commando is based on the Intel P965 chipset, which supports Intel®Core™2Extreme, Core™2Duo, Pentium®4EE, Pentium®D, Pentium®4, CeleronD processors for Socket (LGA775). It features 1066/800/533MHz(FSB), dual-channel un-buffered DDR2 800/667/533 x 4DIMMs with a maximum of 8GB.

- Main features

The Republic of Gamers consists only of the best of the best. We offer the best hardware engineering, the fastest performance, the most innovative ideas, and we welcome the best gamers to join in. In the Republic of Gamers, mercy rules are only for the weak, and bragging rights means everything. We believe in making statements and we excel in competition. If your character matches our trait, then join the elite club, make your presence felt, in the Republic of Gamers.

- Intel® Quad-core CPU Ready
- Intel® Core™2 Extreme / Core™2 Duo Ready
- Intel P965 chipsets
- Dual-channel DDR2 800/667/533
- Extreme Tweaker
- SupremeFX / DTS Connect / Noise Filter
- LCD Poster
- Onboard Switches

LGA775 Intel® Quad-core Processor Ready
This motherboard supports the latest Intel® Quad-core processors in LGA775 package. It's excellent for multi-tasking, multi-media and enthusiastic gamers with 1066/800 MHz FSB. Intel® Quad-core is one of the most powerful CPU in the world.

LGA775 Intel® Core™2 Processor Ready
This motherboard supports the latest Intel® Core™2 processors in LGA775 package. With new Intel® Core™ micro-architecture technology and 1066 / 800 MHz FSB, Intel® Core™2 processor is one of the most powerful and energy efficient CPU in the world.

Intel P965 chipset
The Intel® P965 Express Chipset is the latest chipset designed to support maximum 8GB dual-channel DDR2 800/667/533 architecture, 1066/800 FSB (front-side-bus), PCI Express x16 graphics and multi-core CPU. It especially includes Intel® Fast Memory Access technology that significantly optimizes the use of available memory bandwidth and reduces the latency of the memory accesses.

Dual-Channel DDR2 800
DDR2 is the next generation memory technology to replace the current DDR. With the highest speed up to 800MHz,DDR2 memory provides great performance for 3D graphics and other memory demanding applications.


8 phase EL-Capless power design
The 8-phase cap-less Power design demonstrates two hardcore commitments of ROG products: ultimate overclocking capability, and ultimate reliability. The 8-phase power design yields unparalleled superiority in the overclocking arena, while the EL cap-less design removes any worries of capacitor problems once and for all.

Heat-Pipe: The most reliable thermal solution
The R.O.G. Series' sophisticated design of heat-pipe directs heat from the chipset to two VRM copper heatsinks where the temperature can be dissipated by system airflow. This design promises ultimate reliability and quietness.

Extreme Tweaker: One stop performance tuning shop
Extreme Tweakers is the one stop shop to fine-tune your system to optimal performance. No matter if you're looking for frequency adjustment, over-voltage options, or memory timing settings, they're all here!


SupremeFX: That Sounds Great!
The SupremeFX audio card is designed to provide you the best game sound experience. With 24bit/192kHz full sampling in all surround channels, no matter if you're hearing your game through headphones or 7.1 surround speakers, we'll deliver the effects loud and clear!

DTS Connect
This feature is consists of two elements: DTS interactive and DTS NEO:PC. DTS interactive re-encodes your stereo or multi-channel sound into a DTS audio signal and send it out from your PC to any DTS enabled system. While DTS NEO:PC turns your stereo audio such as MP3, WMA, CD, and other sound format into a convincing multi-channel audio experience.

LCD Poster: Debug with translation

When system malfunction occurs, LCD Notice Board automatically detects for device failure and posts physical system errors on the LCD during POST. No more reading "gibberish to find out what's wrong.


Onboard Switch: No more shorting pins or moving jumpers
With an easy press during overclock, this exclusive onboard switch allows gamer to effortlessly fine-tune the performance without having to short the pins or moving jumpers!

ASUS Q-Connector: Make connections quick and accurate

The Q-Connector allows you to connect or disconnect chassis front panel cables in one easy step with one complete module. This unique adapter eliminates the trouble of plugging in one cable at a time, making connection quick and accurate.


Bundled Software

3D Game: Ghost Recon: The hottest 3D Game
One of the most heavily nominated games, appearing in 8 categories, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter picked up awards in the following categories: Best Game and Technical Achievement. It's also the first few games that support physics effect. Now enjoy your realistic game with this motherboard.

3DMark® 06 Advanced Edition: The Gamers' Benchmark
3DMark is the most popular and authoritative 3D benchmark application used by professionals around the world. The 3DMark06 is the latest version in the popular 3DMark series, including advanced SM2.0 and HDR/SM3.0 Shader graphics tests and now including single, multiple core and multiple processor CPU tests as part of the 3DMark score! The accurate performance and image quality diagnostic tool, designed for DirectX®9.0c, provides you with all the information you need to make all other competitors look bad.

Kaspersky® Anti-Virus: The best protection from viruses and spyware
Kaspersky® Anti-Virus Personal offers premium antivirus protection for individual users and home offices. It is based on advanced antivirus technologies. The product incorporates the Kaspersky® Anti-Virus engine, which is renowned for malicious program detection rates that are among the industry's highest.

AI NOS: Boost performance when you need it the most!
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 .

ASUS O.C. Profile
The motherboard features the ASUS O.C. Profile that allows users to conveniently store or load multiple BIOS settings. The BIOS settings can be stored in the CMOS or a separate file, giving users freedom to share and distribute their favorite overclocking settings.

ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
The ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3 allows users to restore corrupted BIOS data from a USB flash disk containing the BIOS file. This utility saves users the cost and hassle of buying a replacement BIOS chip.

C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
When the system hangs due to overclocking failure, there is no need to open the case to clear CMOS data. Just simply restart the system, the BIOS would show the previous setting and then users can amend the CPU setting again.

ASUS Special Features

Noise Filter: Eliminate background noise while recording
This feature detects repetitive and stationary noises like computer fans, air conditioners, and other background noises then eliminates it in the incoming audio stream while recording.

ASUS EZ Flash 2: Simply update BIOS from a USB flash disk before entering the OS
EZ Flash 2 is a user-friendly BIOS update utility. Simply launch this tool and update BIOS from a USB flash disk before entering the OS. You can update your BIOS only in a few clicks without preparing an additional floppy diskette or using an OS-based flash utility.

MyLogo3: Personalize your system with customizable boot logo
The ASUS MyLogo 3 is the new feature present in the motherboard that allows you to personalize and add style to your system with customizable and animated boot logos.


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.

IEEE 1394a interface
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.

High Definition Audio
Enjoy high-end sound system on your PC! The onboard 8-channel HD audio (High Definition Audio, previously codenamed Azalia) CODEC enables high-quality 192KHz/24-bit audio output, jack-sensing feature, retasking functions and multi-streaming technology that simultaneously sends different audio streams to different destinations. You can now talk to your partners on the headphone while playing a multi-channel network games. All of these are done on one computer.

- Full specifications

CPU
LGA775 socket for Intel® Core™2 Extreme / Core™2 Duo / Pentium® Extreme / Pentium® D / Pentium® 4 / Celeron® D Processors
Compatible with Intel® 05B/05A/06 processors
Intel® Quad-Core CPU ready
* Refer to www.asus.com for Intel CPU support list
Chipset
Intel® P965 / ICH8R with Intel® Fast Memory Access Technology
Front Side Bus
1066 / 800 / 533 MHz
Memory
4 x DIMM, max. 8GB, DDR2 800 / 667 / 533 MHz, non-ECC, un-buffered memory
Dual channel memory architecture
* Refer to www.asus.com or user manual for Memory QVL (Qualify Vendor List)
Expansion Slots
2 x PCI-E x16 (@  x16 and x4 mode)
4 x PCI 2.2
Storage
Southbridge
 - 6 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports
 - Intel Matrix Storage Technology supports  RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10.
PATA  controller
 - 1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices
LAN
Dual Gigabit LAN controllers, both featuring AI NET2
Marvell® PCI-E and PCI Gigabit LAN controllers
Audio
SupremeFX Audio card featuring ADI® 1988B Codec
 - Support Jack-Sensing, Enumeration, Multi-streaming and Jack-Retasking
 - Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
 - ASUS Noise Filter
 - DTS Connect™
IEEE 1394
2 x IEEE 1394a ports (one at midboard; one at back panel)
USB
10 x USB 2.0 ports (6 ports at mid-board, 4 ports at back panel)
Overclocking Features
Extreme Tweaker
Intelligent overclocking tools:
  AI NOS™ (Non-delay Overclocking System)
  AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
  ASUS AI Booster Utility
O.C Profile
Overclocking Protection:
 * ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
ASUS Features
LCD Poster
Onboard Switches: Power / Reset / Clr CMOS
Q-Connector
ASUS CrashfreeBIOS 3
ASUS EZ Flash2
ASUS MyLogo3
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x PS/2 Mouse
1 x S/PDIF Out (Coaxial + Optical)
1 x IEEE1394a
2 x RJ45 port
4 x USB 2.0/1.1
Internal I/O Connectors
3 x USB connectors support additional 6 USB ports
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector
6 x SATA connectors
1 x CPU Fan connector
6 x Chassis Fan connector
1 x Power Fan connector
1 x IEEE1394a connector
1 x Azalia Digital Header
3 x thermal sensor connectors
Chassis Intrusion connector
24-pin ATX Power connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
System Panel
BIOS
8 Mb Flash ROM, AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 2,  ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
Manageability
WfM 2.0, DMI 2.0, WOL by PME, PXE
Accessories
UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
FDD cable
SATA cables
SATA power cables
I/O Shield
User's manual
USB2.0 port module
3 in 1 Q-connector
7 x cable ties
IEEE1394 port module
Optional Fan for Water-Cooling or Passive-Cooling only
Support DVD
Drivers
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS Update
AI Booster
Futuremark® 3DMark06 Advanced Edition
Kaspersky Anti-Virus software (full version)\
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.5cm)

2. The Package

Asus Commando costs around 200~250. The motherboard has been available on the market for sometime now, so the price has settled enough to feel right for the features and performance it offers, but more on that later. The retail package follows the usual design for the "Republic of Gamers" motherboard series:

All included accessories are well packaged and the motherboard is protected by a plastic shell:

The sound card is based on the Soundmax chipset and needs to be installed.

There are 6 ports available, colour coded according to function.

The package includes all information about the board's design and special features. Below is a list of what's included in the retail package

The board itself, is well laid out and all parts can be identified easily:

Let's zoom at the CPU area.

We can clearly see the passive cooling solution for the northbridge. As Asus comments "...The Heat Pipe design effectively directs the heat generated by the chipsets to the heatsink near the back IO ports, where it can be carried away by existing airflow from CPU fan or bundled optional fan...". The nearby components are low profile so there shouldn't be a problem with larger cooling solutions. After installing Intel's stock fan, the space between the passive heatsinks and CPU cooler is very limited. Perhaps larger coolers may not fit, so before purchasing a third party cooler, check the compatibility list:

The passive heatsinks do their job well and keep the northbridge cool. Of course, we advise you not to touch them since the temperatures are rather high. The motherboard supports four banks for memory modules.

Click to Enlarge!

Moving to the south area of the board, we can see the passive heatsink for the southbridge and the 6x SATA 2 connectors, well organized, not crowded. It is advised to install the cables before placing the motherboard inside the case:

The motherboard supports the CrossFire Technology. There are 2x PCI-E x16 slots, the blue PCI-E lanes work at 16x & 4x. Like other P965 motherboards, you can run Nvidia's SLI, with hacked drivers of course. There is enough space between the three PCI-E slots so no problem here for extra large VGA cards:

There are several extra connections for USB, Front Panel Audio, COM2 and Firewire for the back. Asus has included all port modules in the retail package. The back I/O panel has the usual connections:

The LCD panel is backlit offering POST messages during bootup. We didn't find any option under the BIOS that would allow us to change the messages, as can be done with the Striker Extreme series. Lastly, there are three buttons on-board that are used to perform the most basic functions on a motherboard, shutdown, reset and clear CMOS. No need to look in the dark for onboard switches:


3. BIOS

The BIOS is from Phoenix and more or less has the same options as those of the P5B Deluxe. Memory, CPU and SB voltages can be set according to the following table.

BIOS Setting Feature:
CPU Clock Multiplier
6x-13x in 1X increments
CPU bus frequency
100 to 650MHz in 1MHz steps
CPU voltage
1.1000V-1.8500V in 0.0125V steps
DRAM voltage
1.800V to 3.375V in 0.025V steps
PCI Express frequency
90MHz to 150MHz in 1MHz steps
SB voltage
1.050V to 1.225V in 0.025V steps
SB SATA/PCIe voltage
1.50V to 1.85V in 0.05V steps

There are no major complaints with the BIOS. Everything is well organized and the user will find it easy to set the best settings and perform some serious overclocking.

- Installation

Using Everest Ultimate Edition 2007, we can get more information about the board:

Both North Bridge and South Bridge chipsets unveiled:

The latest BIOS was installed for all tests. Let's now see how our CPU was identified under CPU-Z:

Asus offers the AI Suite software that can control most of the functions of the Asus Commando. Users can monitor temperatures, voltages and of course, perform overclocking:

Unfortunately, each overclocking setting requires a reboot:

For comparison, we post test results from:


4. Everest Ultimate Edition 2006 - SiSoft Sandra

Click for official website!EVEREST Ultimate Edition is an industry leading system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. During system optimizations and tweaking it provides essential system and overclock information, advanced hardware monitoring and diagnostics capabilities to check the effects of the applied settings. CPU, FPU and memory benchmarks are available to measure the actual system performance and compare it to previous states or other systems. Furthermore, complete software, operating system and security information makes EVEREST Ultimate Edition a comprehensive system diagnostics tool that offers a total of 100 pages of information about your PC. The software has built-in, several tests for memory and CPU/FPU.

Not surprisingly, both the EVGA 680i LT and Striker Extreme are faster than the Commando, at least in two tests. All Nvidia based motherboards offer slightly better memory performance than Intel.

In the CPU tests, the Commando seems slightly faster than the other two boards, while there is a noticeable difference in the CPU Photoworxx benchmark.

 

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software. It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what's really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCIe, ODBC Connections, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc. Sisoft Sandra offers a variety of tests for Memory and CPU.

In Sisoft Sandra 2007 SP1, the Asus Commando was faster than the other two Nvidia 680i based motherboards in all tests.

The USB performance of the three tested motherboards was measured with Sisoft Sandra and a Corsair Voyager 8GB GT USB stick. The "Removable Storage" benchmark was used to obtain the "Performance Index" (reading/writing operations per minute).

The EVGA 680i LT had the highest score with 11254, the Asus Commando was the 3rd with 11175 operations per minute.


5. PCMARK - 3DMARK

Click for homepage!PCMark®05 is everything you need to reliably and easily measure the performance of your PC and determine its strengths and weaknesses. With PCMark05, you will be able to select the optimal upgrades for your existing PC, or choose the right new PC that fits your specific needs. This easy-to-use product gives you the same tools and knowledge that virtually every professional tester in the industry uses. Below you can see the scores for memory and CPU.

Looking at the CPU score, the EVGA 680i LT had the highest PCMark index score.

 

Click for homepage!3DMark®06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests. 3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.

3D Mark06 tests both CPU and RAM as well as the VGA card. The EVGA 680i LT had the highest score with 2113 marks.


6. Science Mark - PovRay - Nero Digital

Science Mark 2.0 is an attempt to put the truth behind benchmarking. In an attempt to model real world demands and performance, SM2 is a suite of high-performance benchmarks that realistically stress system performance without architectural bias.  Science Mark 2.0 is comprised of 7 benchmarks, each of which measures a different aspect of real world system performance.

Pov-Ray s a high-quality, totally free tool for creating stunning three-dimensional graphics. It is available in official versions for Windows, Mac OS/Mac OS X and i86 Linux. The source code is available for those wanting to do their own ports. We used Pov-Ray 3.7beta15 for all tests, since it supports Dual Core CPUs. We used the build-in benchmark as suggested by the developers.

In ScienceMark, the Asus Commando was awarded the highest score, while in Pov-Ray, the EVGA 680i LT.

 

- Nero Digital

Nero Digital is one of the best known Digital formats, offering both ASP and AVC encoder profiles.

For our tests, we used the latest version of Nero Recode v2.3.1.8 as packaged with Nero Reloaded v7.5.0.1. As a source, we used a VOB file of 5 mins duration. We encoded for each motherboard, two modes (ASP, AVC) with exactly the same preferences (Same bitrate and Dual pass). The encoding time displayed below is what Nero Recode reported. The lower the time taken, the better. All results are displayed in seconds.

All three tested motherboards had similar times with Nero Recode.


7. CINEBENCH -SuperPI

CINEBENCH is the free benchmarking tool for Windows and Mac OS based on the powerful 3D software CINEMA 4D. Consequently, the results of tests conducted using CINEBENCH 9.5 carry significant weight when analyzing a computer’s performance in everyday use.

Especially a system’s CPU and the OpenGL capabilities of its graphics card are put through their paces (even multiprocessor systems with up to 16 dedicated CPUs or processor cores). During the testing procedure, all relevant data is ascertained with which the performance of different computers can subsequently be compared, regardless of operating system. All tests were done with the latest available build (R9.5), and the sum of the subtests is displayed in the following chart, excepting OpenGL Software & Hardware Lighting tests, since both depend on the installed VGA card.

In CineBench, the Asus Striker Extreme had the highest rank with 1628 points.

 

SuperPI has become an utility to benchmark modern systems. In August 1995, the calculation of pi up to 4,294,960,000 decimal digits was succeeded by using a supercomputer at the University of Tokyo. The program was written by D.Takahashi and he collaborated with Dr. Y.Kanada at the computer center, the University of Tokyo. This record-breaking program was ported to the personal computer environment under Windows NT and Windows 95 and called Super PI.

The software offers up to 32M calculations of PI numbers. For all motherboards, we tested up to 8M calculations and summed them for a total score.

It seems like the Intel P965 chipset provides higher RAW CPU speed, with the sum of 8M+4M+2M+1M being much lower than the Nvidia 680i SLI chipset based motherboards.


8. Overclocking

Asus advertises the Commando as the ultimate platform for overclocking, and to be honest, we weren't surprised. The BIOS includes all the settings to boost the CPU's overall speed, either by increasing the FSB or RAM frequency, synced or not. Ok, so this motherboard can overclock, but the real question is by how much. Without making any special preparations and leaving all voltages in auto mode, we managed to get a 100% stable 480FSB system with memory running at 1:1. We had read reports from other reviewers who could get even higher results. We tried to pump up the voltages but we didn't have much luck. We suspect the "problem" here is our CPU (Intel E6600). With a different CPU, like an Intel E6300, you can get more FSB "juice" from this motherboard.

Click To Enlarge!


9. Conclusion

Asus motherboards have become for many users the hallmark of stability and overall performance. The P5B Deluxe model has become the favorite overclocking board for many users. Without much effort you can overclock your CPU to very high levels. The Asus Commando promises to further improve this and from our tests, it did! While with the P5B Deluxe we could "only" get 425FSB, with the Commando we reached, with all settings at "Auto", 480FSB, which is very good. We suspect that 500MHz FSB could be achieved with a different CPU (like the Intel E6300).

The Commando motherboard should be considered as the evolution of the P5B Deluxe. The board design is better, has more overclocking capabilities and will be a perfect companion for your Intel C2D processor. Both Striker Extreme and Commando are the "Elite" motherboards from Asus for the Nvidia 680i and Intel P965 platforms. The retail price of €200~250 places the Commando among the high priced P965 motherboards. It's very possible that with the arrival of Intel P35 motherboards, the retail price will go even lower. There are many boards in this price category, such as the EVGA 680i LT which seems very strong compared with the Asus Commando. Each platform has its own positives and negatives.

We have no problems suggesting this motherboard to anyone who wants to achieve very high overclocking levels. Editor's Choice for Commando, well done Asus!



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