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Appeared on: Thursday, May 22, 2008
Motherboard Roundup May 2008


1. About this article - Asus P5E3 Premium WiFi@n

Which chipset works better with your brand new 45nm Core2Quad processor? That's the question we will try to answer today with a comparison of four motherboard based on different chipsets: Intel P35, X38, X48 and Nvidia's 790o SLi.

From that comparison we skipped P965 chipset, since the 45nm Quad processors are not supported.

All motherboards for this test were kindly offered by Asustek company. These are the Asus P5E3 Premium, the Asus Striker II Extreme, the Asus Maximus Extreme and the Asus Blitz Extreme. The last two models have been already presented in previous reviews, so they are just included for comparison.

Let's begin presenting the newly introduced motherboards, the Asus P5E3 Premium and Asus Striker II Extreme, all based at DDR3 memory.

- Asus P5E3 Premium WiFi@n

The P5E3 Premium/WiFi-AP@n is an "improved" version of the popular P5E3 Deluxe Wifi, carrying the Intel X48 chipset. However, the difference between the X38 and X48 is minimal and mostly noticed when coupled with a 1600FSB processor.

The X48 motherboard combines performance with energy efficiency; and supports DDR3 2000MHz dual-channel memory architecture and Dual PCI Express 2.0 x16 lanes. It also comes with ASUS EPU (Energy Processing Unit), allowing the CPU power supply to be digitally monitored and fine-tuned with improved VRM efficiency in heavy or light loadings – attaining the best possible power efficiency and energy savings. The P5E3 Premium/WiFi-AP@n also supports 802.11n WiFi specifications onboard for faster data transfers, and ASUS Express Gate – an optional Linux OS bootup for instant access to the Internet in just 5 seconds.

AI Lifestyle Series of motherboards provide you better system performance to enjoy graphic-intensive games and applications. The audio feature enhances the quality of voice signal. Thoughtful design allows you to set up your system easily. To create a peaceful environment, several new and improved innovations are included to reduce noise and temperature.

LGA775 Intel® Core™2 Processor Ready

This motherboard supports the latest Intel® Core™2 processors in LGA775 package. It also can support Intel® next generation 45nm Multi-Core CPU. With new Intel® Core™ microarchitecture technology and 1600 / 1333 / 1066 / 800 MHz FSB, Intel® Core™2 processor is one of the most powerful and energy efficient CPU in the world.

PCIe 2.0
Double Speed; Double Bandwidth This motherboard supports the latest PCIe 2.0 devices for double speed and bandwidth which enhances system performance.

Dual-Channel DDR3 2000(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600
The motherboard supports DDR3 memory that features data transfer rates of 2000(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600/1333/1066/800 MHz to meet the higher bandwidth requirements of the latest operation system, 3D graphics, multimedia, and Internet applications. The dual-channel DDR3 architecture doubles the bandwidth of your system memory to boost system performance, eliminating bottlenecks with peak bandwidths of up to 28.8 GB/s. Furthermore, the supply voltage for the memory is reduced from 1.8 V for DDR2 to just 1.5 V for DDR3. This voltage reduction limits the power consumption and heat generation of DDR3 which makes it an ideal memory solution.
ASUS EPU: Enables the Most Energy Efficient Motherboard in the World
Enables the Most Energy Efficient Motherboard in the World
The ASUS EPU utilizes innovative technology to digitally monitor and tune the CPU power supply with improved VR responses in heavy or light loadings. It automatically provides power for higher performance or improve efficiency by 50% when the PC is running low intensity applications. Working together with AI Gear 3+, this can help you attain the best possible power efficiency and energy savings up to 80.23% to help save the environment.
ASUS Express Gate: Surf the Internet in 5-second-boot time without entering Windows
With a fast bootup speed of only 5 seconds, the ASUS Express Gate offers an optional Linux OS bootup that allows you to enjoy instant access to commonly used functions like accessing the Internet, VoIP, and Web emailing without entering the OS.

In order to get familiar with the full features of the Asus P5E3 Premium WiFi@n visit the Asus website.

- Full specifications

CPU
Intel Socket 775 Core™2 Quad/Core™2 Extreme/Core™2 Duo/Pentium® Extreme/Pentium® D/Pentium® 4 Processors
Compatible with Intel® 05B/05A/06 processors
Support Intel® next generation 45nm CPU
Chipset
Intel X48
Intel ICH9R
Intel Fast Memory Access Technology
Front Side Bus
1600/1333/1066/800 MHz
Memory
4 x DIMM, Max. 8 GB, DDR3 2000*/1800*/1600/1333/1066/800 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
* Overclocking speed
** For the X.M.P. support, CPUs with FSB 1333 or above are recommended.
*** Refer to www.asus.com or this user manual for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors List).
Expansion Slots
3 x PCIe x16 (blue @PCIe2.0 x16 mode, black @PCIe x4 or x1 mode) supports CrossFire Technology
1 x PCIe x1
2 x PCI
Storage
Southbridge
6 xSATA 3 Gb/s ports Intel Matrix Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10
JMicron® JMB363 PATA and SATA controller
1 xUltraDMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices
2 xExternal SATA 3.0 Gb/s port (SATA On-the-Go)
Support RAID 0,1,JBOD
LAN
Dual Gigabit LAN controllersMarvell 88E8056® PCIe Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2
Realtek RTL8110SC® PCI Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2
Wireless LAN
ASUS WiFi-AP @n
- 300Mbps* IEEE 802.11n (Draft) and backwards compatible with IEEE 802.11g / b
- Software Access Point mode
*300Mbps is IEEE 802.11n draft specification. Actual throughput will vary depending on the wireless environment and other parameters
Audio
ADI® AD1988B 8 -Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
Support Jack-Sensing, Enumeration, Multi-streaming
AI Audio 2
IEEE 1394
Agere® L-FW3227 1394a controller supports 2 x 1394a ports (one at midboard; one at back panel)
USB
10 USB 2.0 ports (4 ports at mid-board, 6ports at back panel)
ASUS AI Lifestyle Features
ASUS Power Saving Solution
- ASUS EPU (Energy Processing Unit)
- ASUS 3rd Generation 8-phase Power
- ASUS AI Nap
ASUS AI Lifestyle
- ASUS Express Gate

- ASUS WiFi-AP @n
- ASUS AI Direct Link
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution
- ASUS Fanless Design: Pure Copper Heat-pipe solution
- ASUS Fanless Design: Stack Cool 2
- ASUS Q-Fan 2
- ASUS Optional Fan for Water-cooling or Passive-Cooling only

ASUS Crystal Sound
- ASUS Noise Filter
- ASUS AI Audio 2
ASUS EZ DIY
- ASUS Q-Connector
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS AI Slot Detector
Overclocking Features
Intelligent overclocking tools
- ASUS AI Booster Utility
Precision Tweaker 2
- vDIMM: 65 -step DRAM voltage control
- vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.00625V increment
- vChipset (N.B.): 49-step voltage control
- vFSB Termination: 16-step reference voltage control
- vCPU PLL: 65-step CPU PLL voltage control
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
- FSB tuning from 200MHz up to 800MHz at 1MHz increment
- Memory tuning from 800MHz up to 3200MHz
- PCI Express frequency tuning from 100MHz up to 150MHz at 1MHz increment
Overclocking Protection
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Special Features
Multi-language BIOS
ASUS MyLogo 3
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
2 x External SATA
1 x S/PDIF Out
1 x IEEE 1394a
2 x LAN(RJ45) port
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
8 -Channel Audio I/O
2 x WiFi-AP @n antenna jack
Internal I/O Connectors
2 x USB connectors support additional 4 USB ports
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector
6 x SATA connectors
1 x IEEE 1394a connector
1 x CPU Fan connector
1 x Chassis Fan connector
1 x Power Fan connector
1 x COM connector
1 x S/PDIF Out connector
2 x4-pin ATX 12V Power connector
24 -pin ATX Power connector
Front panel audio connector
Chassis Intrusion connector
CD/AUX audio in
System Panel Connector
BIOS
16 Mb Flash ROM
DMI 2.0
AMI BIOS
PnP
WfM 2.0
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,WOR by PME, PXE
Accessories
UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
FDD cable
6 x Serial ATA cables
1 x 2-port Serial ATA power cable
ASUS Q-Shield
User's manual
ASUS WiFi-AP @n manual
3 in 1 Q-connector
1 x 2-port USB2.0 / 1-port IEEE1394 module
2 x Optional Fan for Water-Cooling or Passive-Cooling only
ASUS WiFi-AP @n omni-directional antenna
Support Disc
Drivers
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS AI Suite
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
ASUS Update
ASUS WiFi-AP @n Wizard
Image-Editing Suite
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x24.4 cm )


2. Asus P5E3 Premium WiFi@n - Retail package

The Asus P5E3 Premium WiFi@n is a highly priced motherboard. You can find it at the price range of 310~340 Euro (+shipping), as found in several online stores. Let's hope its performance to be also high.

The retail package follows the design of the Asus P5E3 Deluxe model with all the needed logos printed on the front reminding you of the the motherboard's basic features.

Opening the retail box, we find many cables, various connectors and adapters.

Below is a list of what's included in the retail package

The package is certainly complete, although there is not any retail game included. The board's layout is very "clean" as most of the components can be identified easily.

Let's take a closer look at the CPU area.

The 8-phase power design and the low heighted MOSFETs contribute to minimum switching loss & lower operating temperature. The Ferrite Core chokes offer a lower hysteresis loss, while they all have high quality, long life conductive polymer capacitors, according to Asus. The Asus P5E3 Premium has many copper heatsinks around the CPU area all well connected to the main copper heatpipe. Note that this configuration may not allow you to easily install third party bigger cooler solutions.

For extreme overclocking, users should take measurements to cool down SouthBridge/NorthBridge since the Intel X48 chipset gets pretty hot.

Four DDR3 DIMMs are available allowing installation of up to 8GB of memory:

Going further to the lower left side of the mainboard, we find six (6) SATAII connectors and of course an ATA133 connector. They're all colored in red for easier tracking.

The Southbridge is also covered with a passive copper heatsink carrying  the Ai Lifestyle logo. The copper heatsink gets really hot, so don't touch it after overclocking attempts :)

The newly adopted PCI-e v2.0 offers a higher bandwidth in order to efficiently feed the latest graphics cards. There are also three PCI-e slots: The blue ones support the PCIe2.0 x16 mode while the black one meets the PCIe x4 or x1 standards.

The motherboard also supports the AMD's CrossFire Technology. There is enough space left between the three slots, so you should not face any problems if you installed oversized graphics cards.

Several extra ports in additional brackets are also bundled and are offering additional expansion options. The I/O panel has the following ports and connectors:

- Asus Express Gate

The Express Gate module is exactly what we have already seen in the Asus P5E3 Deluxe WiFi review. It is rather unique feature that allows you in 5mins to access Internet. As you can see the feature works, provided that you have an internet connection.


3. Asus P5E3 Premium WiFi@n - BIOS settings, Test configuration

The BIOS follows what Asus has been using for quite sometime now. In order to get the best results, we used the BIOS update software to upgrade to the latest version. The update procedure is very easy and works just fine. Probably the best we've seen, compared to the one of other manufacturers.

Entering the BIOS window, we see various tabs each one holding several sub-menus with different options. The first tab shows the date, SATA drives and system information.

On the second tab named "AI Tweaker", users will find tons of features.

The motherboard includes an auto overclocking system, called Ai Overclock Tuner, which offers three different settings:

We use manual settings for all hardware tests:

The FSB Strap to North Bridge can be set to up to 400MHz. Most users will leave this option to Auto. There are also many memory dividers to play with (1:1,1:2, etc.). The memory dividers are affected from the selected FSB, so in order to have the highest possible options, leave the FSB to auto. We can see that the BIOS reads the memory timings and displays them.

The DRAM CLK also offers many different settings to play with in order to improve stability and performance:

Experimenting with the available memory settings would either offer better performance, or stability.

Here is a list with all the available voltages and frequencies:

Proceeding to the Advanced tab, we can find more settings for SpeedStep, C1E support and of course CPU multiplier:

Under the Power tab, there are the usual temperature readings, with no NB/SB temperatures, only in special models.

Lastly, under the Tools tab we find the Express Gate option that can be enabled or disabled.

- Test Configuration

Let's see now how our CPU was identified under CPU-Z:


4. Asus Striker II Extreme - Features, specifications

The Asus Striker II Extreme is the "The Ultimate Gaming/Overclocking Platform" according to Asus. The motherboard has been designed by Asus and it is based on Nvidia's 790i SLI chipset, the only chipset that offers SLI support for Intel C2D processors.

The motherboard supports the DDR3-2000 dual-channel memory architecture and has three PCI Express 2.0 x16 lanes for extreme graphics performance (3-way SLI). It also comes with the ASUS EPU (Energy Processing Unit) for power efficiency. The included water cooling solution makes overclocking a really easy task for experienced users.

- Intel® Quad-core CPU Ready
- Intel® Core™2 Extreme / Core™2 Duo Ready
- Support Intel next generation 45nm Multi-Core CPU
- NVIDIA nForce® 790i Ultra SLI™
- Dual-channel DDR3 2000(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600(O.C)/1333/1066/800 Support
- Fusion Block System
- CPU Level Up
- Memory Level Up
- LCD Poster
- SupremeFX II 8-CH Audio

LGA775 Intel® Core™2 Processor Ready

This motherboard supports the latest Intel® Core™2 processors in LGA775 package. It also can support Intel® next generation 45nm Multi-Core CPU. With new Intel® Core™ microarchitecture technology and 1600 / 1333 / 1066 / 800 MHz FSB, Intel® Core™2 processor is one of the most powerful and energy efficient CPU in the world.

PCIe 2.0
Double Speed; Double Bandwidth This motherboard supports the latest PCIe 2.0 devices for double speed and bandwidth which enhances system performance.

Fusion Block System H2O ready: The next step in thermal solution.
The Fusion Block System is a more efficient thermal solution compared to competing followers with complicated looks. It is a hybrid thermal design that combines the ROG's renowned heatpipe design with the additional ability to connect to a water cooling system. By taking the entire integrated solution into design considerations, the user can enjoy exceptional thermal improvement to north bridge, south bridge, Crosslinx, and even VRM with a single connection. The Fusion Block System is the most versatile, efficient, and the most advanced thermal system there is on a motherboard.
CPU Level Up - A Simple click for instant upgrade
Ever wish that you could have a more expansive CPU? Upgrade your CPU at no additional cost with ROG´s CPU Level Up! Simply pick the processor you wanted to OC to, and the motherboard will do the rest!
See the new CPU speed and enjoy that performance instantly. Overclocking is never as easy as this.

More information on the Asus Striker II Extreme is available on Asus website.

- Full specifications

CPU
Intel Socket 775 Core™2 Extreme/Core™2 Duo/Pentium® Extreme/Pentium® D/Pentium® 4/Celeron Processors
Compatible with Intel® 05B/05A/06 processors
Support Intel® next generation 45nm CPU
* Refer to www.asus.com for Intel CPU support list
Chipset
NVIDIA nForce 790i Ultra SLI
Front Side Bus
1600/1333/1066/800 MHz
Memory
4 x DIMM, Max. 8 GB, DDR3 2000*/1800*/1600*/1333/800 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual channel memory architecture - supports NVIDIA® SLI™-ready technology
*Overclock speed
**Refer to www.asus.com or this user manual for the Memory QVL(Qualified Vendors Lidts).
Expansion Slots
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 ,support NVIDIA® SLI™ technology, at full x16, x16 speed(blue)
1 x PCIe x16 ,at x16 speed(middle)
2 x PCIe x1 ( the PCIEx1_1 (black) is compatible with audio slot)
2 x PCI 2.2
Scalable Link Interface (SLI™)
Support NVIDIA 3-way SLI graphics cards (triple at x16 mode)
Storage
Southbridge
1 xUltraDMA 133/100/66/33
6 xSATA 3 Gb/s ports NVIDIA MediaShield™ RAID Support RAID 0,1,0+1,5,JBOD span cross Serial ATA drives
JMicron® JMB363 PATA and SATA controller
2 xExternal SATA 3.0Gb/s port on back I/O (SATA On-the-Go)
LAN
Dual Gigabit LAN, both featuring AI NET2
Support Teaming Technology
Audio
SupremeFX II Audio Card
ADI 1988B 8 -Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
ASUS Noise Filter
IEEE 1394
2 x 1394a ports (1 port at back I/O, 1 port onboard)
USB
10 USB 2.0 ports (6 ports at mid-board, 4 ports at back panel)
Overclocking Features
Extreme Tweaker
Loadline Calibration
2-Phase DDR 3
Intelligent overclocking tools
- CPU Level Up
- Memory Level Up
- AI Gear 3+
- AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
- ASUS AI Booster Utility
- ASUS O.C. Profile: overclocking configuration-sharing tool
Overclocking Protection
- COP EX (Component Overheat Protection - EX)
- Frequency LED
- Voltiminder LED
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Special Features
LCD Poster
Fusion Block System
EL I/O
Onboard Switches: Power / Reset / Cls CMOS (at rear)
ASUS EPU (Energy Processing Unit)
Q-Connector
Q-Fan Plus
ASUS EZ Flash 2
ASUS Q-fan 2
ASUS CrashFree BIOS
BIOS Wallpaper
ASUS MyLogo3
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
2 x External SATA
1 x IEEE 1394a
2 x LAN(RJ45) port
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
1 x Clr CMOS switch
1 x Optical + 1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Output1 x onboard LED switch
Internal I/O Connectors
2 x USB connectors supports additional 6 USB 2.0 ports
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector
6 x SATA connectors
1 x IEEE 1394a connector
8 x Fan connectors: 1 x CPU / 1 x PWR / 3 x Chassis / 3 x Optional
1 x S/PDIF Out connector
1 x8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
24-pin ATX Power connector
1 x EL I/O Shield Connector
1 x En/Dis-able Clr CMOS connector
3 x thermal sensor connectors
Chassis Intrusion connector
System Panel
1 x ROG connector
BIOS
8 Mb Flash ROM
DMI 2.0
PnP
WfM 2.0
SM BIOS 2.4
Award BIOS
ACPI 2.0a
Multi-language BIOS
Manageability
WOL by PME,WOR by PME,Chasis Intrusion,PXE
Accessories
LCD Poster
ASUS Optional Fan
SupremeFX II Audio Card
3 in 1 ASUS Q-Connector Kit
UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
Floppy disk drive cable
3-way SLI bridge
ASUS SLI bridge
SATA cables
SATA power cables
2-port USB2.0 + IEEE 1394a module
EL I/O Shield
Thermal sensor cables
DIY Pedestal
Fusion Block System Accessory
Cable Ties
User's manual
Support Disc
The hottest DX10 Game: Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
Support DVD:
- Drivers and applications
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS Update
ASUS AI Suite
Futuremark ® 3DMark® 06 Advanced Edition
Kaspersky® Anti-Virus
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.5 cm )

5. Asus Striker II Extreme - Retail package

The Asus Striker II Extreme would cost you around 328~370 Euro (+shipping)

The retail package is quickly identified as a "Republic of Gamers" series of motherboards. It also includes the "Company Of Heroes: Opposing Fronts" game.

Not much to say here, inside the box you will find the usual cables and of course, the 3-way SLI bridge connector.

Below is a list of what's included in the retail package

The retail package should be considered as more than complete. Let's take a look to the board.

Besides the typical Mosfet and copper heatpipe complex around the CPU area, we should remind you that the the Asus Striker II Extreme can use a water cooled system. This would seriously keep these heatpipes cool under overclocking.

Four DDR3 DIMMs allow for installation sof up to 8GB of memory:

Six (6) SATAII connectors and oan ATA133 connector are available in an eye-catching blue color.

The Southbridge chip is covered with a passive copper heatsink that is connected with the central water cooling block.

In the picture below you can see the available two PCIe 2.0 x16 lanes (blue) with support for NVIDIA's 3-way SLI technology and a white 1 x PCIe x16.

We faced a small problem when we tried to install a VGA card carrying some large heatpipes:

The I/O panel has the following ports and connectors:


6. Asus Striker II Extreme- BIOS settings, Test configuration

The BIOS is different than what we have encountered with Intel based motherboards. It has a different structure and general philosophy.

The first tab gathers all the functions/options:

Users can start overclocking by either changing the memory settings..

..or by manually setting up almost everything.

The memory options are well structured

Tons of voltage options

Spread Spectrum should be disabled for highest performance

While we navigate across the at the CPU configuration settings, we can disable the C1E and the SpeedStep technology.

The voltage/temperature monitor levels are extensive

Performing overclocking is rather easy. You can either link/unlink the FSB/Memory and rise up the FSB/Memory depending on your needs, or change them individually. Remember that in all cases, the Sync Mode offers the highest possible performance.

The following table gives us an idea of what to expect from the sync/un-linked modes. We can have our memory synced at 1333MHz, un-linked at 1333Mhz or simply boost memory at 1600Mhz, by keeping the cpu at a normal speed, very handy for testing memory modules...

Several FSB:DRAM ratios are also available...

The unlinked mode offers the possibility to rise up memory and keep the CPU clock stable.

Here is a list with all the available voltages and frequencies:

  1. CPU Voltage setting: set [ CPU Voltage ], Range[1.1V…2.4], Interval = 0.00625V
  2. Loadline Calibration: Enable, Ensure Stable and Optimal CPU Voltage During Heavy Loading
  3. CPU PLL Voltage: set [CPU PLL Voltage], Range[1.5V…3.0V], Interval = 0.02V
  4. CPU VTT Voltage: set [CPU VTT Voltage], Range[1.2V …2.46V], Interval = 0.02V
  5. Memory Voltage: set [Memory Voltage], Range[1.5V …3.10V], Interval = 0.02V
  6. NB Core Voltage: set [NB Core Voltage], Range[1.3V…2.2V], Interval = 0.02V
  7. SB Core Voltage: set [SB Core Voltage], Range[1.5V…1.85V], Interval = 0.05V
  8. CPU GTL_REF0 Ratio:]: Range[+224mv…-226mv], Interval = 0.014V / 0.007v
  9. CPU GTL_REF1 Ratio:]: Range[+224mv…-226mv], Interval = 0.014V / 0.007v
  10. CPU GTL_REF2 Ratio:]: Range[+224mv…-226mv], Interval = 0.014V / 0.007v
  11. CPU GTL_REF3 Ratio:]: Range[+224mv…-226mv], Interval = 0.014V / 0.007v
  12. NB GTL_REF Ratio: Range[+160mv…-126mv], Interval = 0.010V / 0.002v
  13. DDRII Channel A1 Ref Voltage: Range[+250mv…-250mv], Interval = 0.0125V
  14. DDRII Channel B1 Ref Voltage: Range[+250mv…-250mv], Interval = 0.0125V
  15. DDRII Channel A2 Ref Voltage: Range[+250mv…-250mv], Interval = 0.0125V
  16. DDRII Channel B2 Ref Voltage: Range[+250mv…-250mv], Interval = 0.0125V

- Test Configuration

Let's see now how our CPU was identified under CPU-Z:


7. Benchmarks - Everest Ultimate Edition, SiSoftware Sandra

- Everest Ultimate Edition

Click for official website!EVEREST Ultimate Edition is a system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the 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 build-in several tests for memory and CPU/FPU.

The memory performance varies according to each motherboard automatically selected secondary timings. The Asus Extreme Striker II had the highest performance in the memory write/reading tests, while the Asus Maximums Extreme got the first place in the memory copy subtest.

Although all motherboards performed well here, the P5E3 Premium (X48) showed a more consistent overall performance.

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.

The X38 and X48 chipsets seem to rule the competition, especially at the CPU tests. The Asus Extreme Striker II gave a higher performance in the memory tests.


8. Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage, BAPCo's SYSmark 2007 Preview

Click for homepage!PCMark Vantage is the first objective hardware performance benchmark for PCs running 32 and 64 bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista. The software is suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista PC from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops to dedicated workstations and hi-end gaming rigs.

Regardless of whether the benchmarker is an artist or an IT Professional, PCMark Vantage shows the user where their system soars or falls flat, and how to get the most performance possible out of their hardware.

The PCMark Vantage results were rather surprising for us, since the Asus Extreme Striker II got the highest rank with 4663 points. Looking at subtests however, we see that in the gaming/tv& movies and memory scores, it gave the lowest results.

BAPCo's SYSmark 2007 Preview builds upon its predecessors and is the next generation of benchmark utilities that utilize real life applications like: Adobe After Effects 7, Adobe Illustrator CS2, Adobe Photo shop CS2, AutoDesk 3ds Max 8, Macromedia Flash 8, Microsoft Excel 2003, Microsoft Outlook 2003, Microsoft PowerPoint 2003, Microsoft Word 2003, Microsoft Project 2003, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9 series, Sony Vegas 7, SketchUp 5 and WinZip 10.0.

The software is an application-based benchmark that reflects usage patterns of business users in the areas of Video creation, E-learning, 3D Modeling and Office Productivity. This new release includes a robust and refreshed set of applications. All results are directly comparable between various configurations and operating systems.

All three tested motherboards gave the same overall score of 145 points. The subtests did not reveal any significant performance differences among the motherboards of this test.


9. Benchmarks - MAXON CINEBENCH, x264 HD Benchmark, TMPGEnc 4 Xpress

MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation.

MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such and Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more. MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based). The resulting values among different operating systems are 100% comparable and therefore very useful with regard to purchasing decision-making.

The CineBench R10 benchmark uses all four cores of Intel Q9300 therefor, it can render about x2 faster the test image, we could say. The highest score comes from Asus Extreme Striker II with 9686 points at xCPU test and from the Asus Maximus Extreme at the 1x CPU test.

- x264 HD Benchmark

x264 Benchmark utilizes the next generation of Video Encoding benchmarks with support for x264 codec that is considered to be one of the most demanding for Video applications. Simply put, it is a reproducible measure of fast your machine can encode a short, HD video clip to a high quality x264 video file. It's nice because everyone running it will use the identical video clip and software. The video encoder (x264.exe) reports a fairly accurate internal benchmark (frames per second) for each pass of the video encode and it also uses multi-core processors very efficiently. All these factors make this an ideal benchmark to compare different processors and systems to each other.

The benchmark procedure is very simple, you just run a batch file that encodes the same file four times. There are two kinds of results, one for the first pass another for the second. The average performance is illustrated in the table below.

The x264 HD benchmark tests the cpu/HDD subsystems. There are two passes with slightly different results. In both cases, the Asus Maximus Extreme had the highest performance.

- TMPGEnc 4 Xpress

TMPGEnc came from Tsunami MPEGEncoder. "QUALITY" comes before everything in TMPGEnc! Encoding time will automatically be faster as CPU speed gets faster! The software converts *.AVI files to MPEG1, the format which is used in VideoCDs. Using a variety of options in TMPGEnc, you can compress your video file in high quality. TMPGEnc enables you to adjust bitrate, quantize matrix, GOP structure, interlacing and many other parameters so that you can create the most appropriate movie file depending on your needs.

For our test we used a 350MB AVI file encoded with the Xvid (Mpeg4 ASP) codec. We use the build-in Mpeg4 ASP/AVC MediaEncoder profile and by dividing the total frames via the encoding time, we get the average frame/sec speed of each competent.

The test gave us some interesting results. In the ASP encoding test, the X48 chipset got the highest score, while the AVC encoding profile gave the Asus Maximus Extreme the pole position.


10. Benchmarks - SuperPI, wPrime

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. Written by D.Takahashi and he collaborated with Dr. Y.Kanada at the computer center, the University of Tokyo, SuperPI was ported to personal computer environment such as Windows NT and Windows 95 and called Super PI.

The software offers up to 32M calculations of PI numbers. In all cases, we tested up to 8M calculations:

In both tests, the Asus Maximus Extreme got the lowest calculation times.

- wPrime

wPrime is a benchmarking application designed to use a highly multithreaded approach to calculating the square-roots of large amounts of numbers (up to 32 billion at this stage!)

wPrime uses all four cores of quad processors, therefore it can finish the task much faster than a C2D.

The Asus P5E3 Premium motherboard had the lowest calculation time with 16.844 secs.


11. Benchmarks - 3DMark 06, Crysis CPU benchmark, Unreal Tournament 3 demo

Click for homepage!3DMark 06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. The software 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.

We couldn't believe that there would be so many differences in the performance of each motherboard. The highest score came from the P5E3 Premium.

The Crysis CPU benchmark gives Asus Extreme Stiker II a small advantage over the other motherboards.

With Unreal Tournament 3 demo, we saw some small performance gains with the Asus Blitz Extreme mobo.


12. Overclocking

Overclocking an Intel C2D/Quad processor is not very easy and a good motherboard could make a huge difference. In our tests we tried follow the easiest overclocking approach for end user. We left the Voltage settings in the Auto mode and push each motherboard as high as we could. Each motherboard has to make its own adjustments and give us highest possible result.

In the first test, the Asus Blitz Extreme gave a higher cpu speed. A good explanation is that the motherboard is mature enough and its Bios settings are better fine tuned. The rest of the motherboards were approximately 100Mhz slower, at around 3.300GHz.

Almost all tested motherboards seem to have the same performance, giving a with 460MHz FSB. Maximus Extreme stayed a little lower with 440MHz.

- Overclocking stability

We are pleased to say that all Intel-based motherboard showed a good behavior. After any overclocking attempt, they all POSTED with an error message allowing us to chance some settings and try again. The Asus Striker II Extreme also had good behaviour and the additional external CMOS button could be proved useful in cases were the system does not POST back.


13. Conclusion

The recent release of the Intel Yorkfield processors gave us a reason to upgrade our main CPU testing processor with a Q9300 in an attempt to further stress the tested motherboards. Users can now expect good performance even from their "old" P35 series and hopefully this roundup gave you an idea of all high performance chipsets for Intel processors that are available today.

But let's focus at the two new motherboards, the Asus P5E3 Premium and Asus Striker II Extreme.

The first one is based on Intel's top chipset X48 and comes with all the goodies that the P5E3 Deluxe offered, that means a dual 802.11n WiFi mode and of course the XpressGate. Both features may be useful to you. At the benchs, the X48 showed its teeth and gave higher CPU scores than other tested motherboards, although it stayed behind in memory scores - even behind the X38 chipset, which is rather strange. The only explanation we can give is that the motherboard didn't choose the best possible secondary memory timings so the memory performance was somewhat slower than the Maximus Extreme (X38). It's retail price is high as we expected, since the X48 is Intel's latest chispet.

The Asus Striker II Extreme should be considered as a good performer, although it did not manage to give the highest results in several tests. Compared to the rest Intel-based motherboards, we expected a little bit more, considering its high retail price. If the absolute benchmark scores is not your basic criteria, the Asus Striker II Extreme will please you with its rich accessories and findings inside the package. The supported 3-way SLI could also be an attractive feature, in case your plans include the purchase of some extra graphics cards.

There have been several comments about data corruption issues at high FSB speeds, and unfortunately we can confirm them, even with the latest 0601 BIOS installed. We experienced a registry corruption at least 3 times, something that rendered our Windows installation useless, while attempting to examine the FSB frequency margins. We hope that this problem will be addressed with a newer BIOS.

Intel processor users are currently offered more chipset choices in order to decide which one is the best for them. Pricewise, the Blitz Extreme is still a good solution offering support for DDR3 memory. We can say that both X38 and X48 chipsets could attract the overclocking enthusiasts, while Nvidia's 790i has its obvious target group, the Nvidia SLI fans. Generally, if your goal is just to overclock your Intel Quad core processor, all tested motherboards will make you happy.

 



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