iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASUS P5AD2 Premium (Wireless Edition) – Motherboard based on Intel 925X chipset

It's a top product from ASUS – that speaks for itself. It's the fastest motherboard on the market, probably the most functional one, full of proprietary technologies, impressively bundled – the list can be very long, but we would rather have a closer look at this treasure.

It goes without saying that the PCB layout, stuffed with controllers and connectors, leaves much to be desired. But you cannot actually write it off as a shortcoming – if you buy such a system, you can surely spend a couple of minutes to lay and connect the cables. +5 V Standby on the motherboard is indicated by a green LED – you must not touch the "innards" of the system until the power on the motherboard is off. The 4-phase switching voltage regulator of the processor incorporates one 1500 uF capacitor, four 1000 uF capacitors, and several ones of a lesser capacity. The motherboard also contains voltage regulators for PCIEx16 (two 1000 uF capacitors) and memory (four 1000 uF capacitors, reinforced by L elements).

At the time this article was written, there were only two models in the line of ASUS motherboards based on i925X – P5AD2 Deluxe has only one gigabit network controller and it has a usual couple of FireWire connectors instead of the combination of three FireWire/GigaWire ports. (Its Deluxe bundle is also cut down – it lacks a very convenient module to connect external SATA devices.) This top motherboard obviously has no elements missing on the PCB (except for a connector for the second COM port on a bracket, but in fact it is not provided on any model). Note that we reviewed Wireless Edition of the motherboard with a wireless LAN controller and a connector for a corresponding antenna. Motherboard dimensions – 305x245 mm (full-sized ATX, nine-screw mount, all motherboard edges are firmly fixed). The Winbond W83627EHF-A chip is used to monitor:

  • CPU voltage, +3,3, +5 and +12 V
  • RPM of 4 fans (with an option to enable Q-Fan for two of them)
  • CPU and board temperatures (by the corresponding embedded sensors)

Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors

  • CPU socket (Socket 775 supporting all state-of-the-art processors including Celeron D)
  • 4 x DDR2 SDRAM DIMM (up to 4 GB DDR2-400/533, module capacities of 256 MB and higher, supports 600 MHz memory frequency, which has practically no sense)
  • 1 x PCIEx16 (with a latch)
  • 2 x PCIEx1
  • 3 x PCI
  • Power connectors: standard EPS12V (24 pins, you can connect a regular 20-pin connector in case you don't use powerful up-to-date componentry like top PCIE video cards) and 4-pin for 12 V
  • 1 x FDD
  • 3 x IDE (Parallel ATA) – one of them is in the chipset (for 2 ATA100 devices), the other two operate thanks to an additional controller, connected disks (4 ATA133) can form RAID 0, 1 or 0+1
  • 8 x SATA (Serial ATA) – 4 of them are in the chipset, connected disks can form 2 independent RAID 0, 1 or Matrix RAID; the other 4 work due to an additional controller and support RAID 0, 1, 10 and 5 (software)
  • 2 connectors for brackets with 4 additional USB (2.0) ports
  • 2 connectors for the bracket with GigaWire ports
  • Connector for a bracket with a network socket
  • Connector for a bracket with a Game port
  • Connector for a bracket with a COM port
  • Connector for a chassis intrusion sensor
  • 1 x CD/DVD audio connector
  • Headers for additional Audio-Outs and S/PDIF-In
  • 4 fan headers (all with rpm control, one 4-pin header for CPU cooler).

Back panel (left to right, blockwise)

  • PS/2 mouse, keyboard, 1 x LPT, S/PDIF-Out (Coaxial and TosLink)
  • 2 x USB and 1 x FireWire
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 3 x Audio (Center/Sub, Rear, Side)
  • 3 x Audio (Mic-In, Line-In, Front)
  • Jack for a WiFi-b/g adapter antenna (with activity indicator)

Package Contents

  • Box: standard design box of the AI Proactive series
  • Documentation: User's manual and WiFi-b/g adapter guide in English
  • Cables: 2 x ATA66/100/133, 1 x ATA33 and an FDD cable –all black with company logo, and 10 Serial ATA cables (with 3 PCPlug-SATA adapters to power 6 devices)
  • Rear panel bracket with 2 external connectors for SATA devices
  • Rear panel bracket with two GigaWire ports and one RJ-45 connector (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • Rear panel bracket with 2 x USB and a Game port
  • Rear panel bracket with a COM port
  • Antenna for WiFi-b/g adapter (only for Wireless Edition)
  • Back PCB panel bracket for corresponding connectors
  • 2 CDs with software:
    • motherboard drivers
    • DirectX 9.0b
    • Adobe Acrobat Reader
    • PC-cillin 2002
    • ASUS AI Booster
    • ASUS Live Update
    • ASUS PCProbe
    • ASUS Screensaver
    • Winbond Voice Editor
    • InterVideo WinDVD Platinum 5
    • InterVideo WinDVD Creator Platinum 2
    • InterVideo WinRip 2

Integrated Controllers

  • Audio, based on the HDA codec C-Media CMI9880 supporting 7.1 surround sound audio with front line-in/out and S/PDIF-In/Out jacks
  • 3 network controllers, 2 of them are based on Marvell 88E8053-NNC chips supporting 10/100/1000 Mbit/sec Base-T (PCIE Gigabit Ethernet), and the third one (wireless LAN adapter) is based on Marvell 88W8310-BAN chip supporting up to 54 Mbit/sec WiFi-b/g operating speed (IEEE 802.11b/g).
  • SATA RAID, based on Silicon Image SiI3114CT176 chip supporting RAID 0, 1, 10, 5 (software) and JBOD, 4 SATA connectors for 4 devices
  • IDE RAID based on the ITE IT8212F chip supporting RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and JBOD and two ATA133 connectors for 4 devices
  • FireWire/GigaWire, based on Texas Instruments TSB82AA2 and TSB81BA3 chips supporting 2 GigaWire ports (FireWire-800, IEEE 1394b)) and 1 FireWire.

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16bit, 44 kHz using the RightMark Audio Analyzer 5.2 test application and the Terratec DMX 6fire sound card:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB:
+0.18, -0.73
Noise level, dB (A):
Dynamic range, dB (A):
THD, %:
Intermodulation, %:
Channel crosstalk, dB:

General performance: Good (details). Most new motherboards with HDA codecs are notable for high audio quality (in comparison with past generations), but models with C-Media codecs are always ranked lower than their classmates. Probably the strongest influence on the resulting quality is exerted by the codec itself.

Proprietary technologies

  • ASUS Stack Cool (passive cooling of electronic components in the CPU voltage converter circuit, heatsinks on both sides of the PCB)
  • ASUS WiFi-g (on-board WiFi-b/g network adapter allowing to setup a software access point)
  • ASUS NOS (dynamic CPU overclocking when the load increases and return to the initial state when idle)
  • ASUS AI Net2 (network diagnosis before entering OS)
  • ASUS CrashFree2 BIOS (an option to restore BIOS automatically from a floppy or bootable CD even when the data in the flash-chip is damaged)
  • ASUS C.P.R. (CPU Parameter Recall – when the motherboard cannot startup because of overclocking, it automatically rolls back to default BIOS settings)
  • ASUS Q-Fan2 Technology (automatic fan speed depending on the temperature)
  • ASUS POST Reporter (voice messaging about system startup problems, custom voice messages)
  • ASUS EZ Flash (updating BIOS without loading the OS)
  • ASUS Multi-language BIOS (language selection for BIOS Setup)
  • ASUS MyLogo 2 (display your own logo at system startup)


Jumpers and switches Clear CMOS jumper  
Jumpers to enable system wake up on USB devices  
PS/2 keyboard power jumper  
In BIOS v2.51 from AMI Memory timings + CAS Latency, RAS Precharge, RAS to CAS Delay, RAS Act. To Precharge Delay, Write Recovery Time
Memory frequency selection + Auto, DDR2-400, DDR2-533, DDR2-600
PCI-E bus setup -  
PCI bus setup -  
PCI/PCI-E frequency divider setup + PCI-E = Auto, 90–150 MHz at 1 MHz steps;
PCI = 33.33 MHz, Auto (modify in accordance with PCI-E frequency), To CPU (modify in accordance with FSB frequency)
PCI IRQ manual assignment -  
FSB frequency setup + 100–400 MHz at 1 MHz steps
CPU multiplier + x8–x28
CPU core voltage control + 1.3625–1.7 V at 0.0125 V steps
Memory voltage control + 1.8, 1.9, 2.0, 2.1 V
Chipset voltage control + Auto, 1.5 and 1.6 V
PCI-E bus voltage control -  

We used BIOS 1004, the latest available BIOS version at the time of our tests. The mentioned BIOS parameters are available in this version, but the viability of non-standard settings hasn't been tested.


ASUS was not in a hurry to present its motherboards based on Intel 915/925 chipsets. But when it happened, we ascertained that engineers from that company underpropped its reputation of the market leader – ASUSTeK P5 series motherboards are the fastest among the competitors. Detailed comparisons of various models can be read in our large-scale roundups, while in this article we are only going to publish results of the express tests of ASUS P5AD2 Premium and one of the fastest representatives of the i925X chipset. The results speak for themselves, but in ASUS even motherboards based on i915 possess the Turbo mode.

TestMSI 925X NeoASUS P5AD2 PremiumASUS P5AD2 Premium (Turbo mode)
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec7:267:337:13
MPEG2 (Mainconcept) encoding, min:sec17:4417:4317:31
Processing images in Photoshop, min:sec8:228:198:11
Return to Castle Wolfenstein (Fast@800x600x32), fps236236242
Return to Castle Wolfenstein (High@1280x1024x32), fps178177186

This model on the official site of the manufacturer

Sergei Pikalov (peek@ixbt.com)
October 25, 2004

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