ASUS P5Q Deluxe Motherboard
One of the most interesting on this chipset.
December 18, 2008
- Audio, based on the 8-channel HDA codec ADI (Analog Devices) AD2000B, 7.1-channel audio, front line-ins/outs and S/PDIF-Out jacks
- Two Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps controllers based on Marvell 88E8001 (PCI) and Marvell 88E8056 (PCIEx1)
- IDE/SATA-II, based on Marvell 88SE6121 (PCIEx1) supporting two ATA133 devices and two SATA300; in this case one port is implemented as eSATA, and the second is used for the RAID controller from Silicon Image
- SATA-II RAID, based on Silicon Image SiI5723 (SATA) supporting two SATA300 devices (hard drives only), which can form RAID 0 and 1.
- FireWire, based on LSI L-FW3227 (PCI) supporting two ports.
The integrated audio quality was tested in 16 bit 44 kHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0 and the Terratec DMX 6fire sound card:
|Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB
|Noise level, dB (A)
|Dynamic range, dB (A)
|Harmonic distortion + noise, dB(A)
|Intermodulation distortion + noise, %
|Channel crosstalk, dB
|IMD at 10 kHz, %
General performance: Very good. ASUS remains the only big player in the market, which still hasn't adopted Realtek codecs completely. We cannot say that solutions from Analog Devices are worse than their rivals in such parameters as noise level or frequency response of analog audio output. But in this case the codec is slightly outscored by typical HDA solutions. However, don't forget that peculiarities of the audio section (length of the track from DAC to the connector on the rear panel, filtering capacitors, etc) have a stronger effect on audio quality than the codec itself.
At the same time, most modern solutions from Realtek offer a number of 'extra' functions to interest home users (for example, DTS and on-the-fly audio encoding into AC-3, implemented in the drivers), including Dolby certifications. ADI AD2000B codec used in this motherboard cannot boast of such features, although Windows Vista drivers still offer a couple of interesting functions.
Our readers know well the Marvell 88SE6121 controller installed in this motherboard, as it's also used in many motherboards with Intel chipsets, which lack chipset-based support for PATA. In this case we can only confirm that this IDE controller puts up praiseworthy performance. It had absolutely no problems detecting an optical drive at startup and in Windows, allowing to boot from a CD, etc. Besides, Internet conferences are full of posts that the SATA controller in this Marvell chip has a good implementation of eSATA ports (that's what it's usually installed for).
A separate mention should be made of the Drive Expert technology, based on the RAID controller from Silicon Image. Functionality of this controller is actually far from unique: it supports two SATA or eSATA ports and allows to form RAID 0 or 1 with two drives. It's a pleasant surprise that it needs no drivers. That's what attracted ASUS engineers. Besides, you can reorganize your RAID in BIOS Setup (traditional method for RAID controllers), using a utility in Windows (or any other operating system), and even with a special utility in Splashtop (Express Gate). So ASUS offers a 'single-click' solution, which requires neither special skills nor drivers and fussing with their settings. In other respects, there is nothing unique in Drive Expert. Some features of the Silicon Image controller were even sacrificed to its simplicity.
Proprietary technologies and peculiarities
The motherboard certainly offers many proprietary technologies, some of them unique, but we tried to cover them all in proper parts of our review. We should only mention the last two technologies:
- Onboard power/reset buttons make assembler's life easier (you don't have to use buttons on the front panel). Besides, LEDs on the onboard buttons indicate when the system is powered on.
- DieHard BIOS: two copies of BIOS in different flash ROM chips render this system component practically invulnerable to flashing errors.
|With jumpers and buttons
||Clear CMOS jumper
|Jumpers to raise CPU and Northbridge voltage
|AMI BIOS 2.61
||Allows to disable specific CPU functions
||Hyper-Threading, Thermal Management (TM2), Enhanced Halt State, Execute Disable Bit, Virtualization Technology, Enhanced SpeedStep|
||By SPD, CAS Latency Time, DRAM RAS to CAS Delay, DRAM RAS Precharge, Precharge Delay, TWR, TWTR, TRRD, TRTP, TRFC and two dozen timings more, however, you cannot specify DRAM Command Rate!|
|Memory frequency selection
||Auto or a multiplier to FSB clock (the resulting DDR2 frequency is selected at once, which is very informative): a wide list of multipliers. For example, with the 800MHz FSB you can set effective memory frequency to 533, 639, 667, 709, 800, 852, 887, 1066, 1200 MHz|
|Peripheral bus frequency control
||PCI-E = 100-180 MHz at 1 MHz steps|
|PCI IRQ manual assignment
|FSB frequency setup
||200-800 MHz at 1 MHz steps|
||only integer values|
|CPU core voltage control
||Auto, 0.85000-1.70000 V at 0.00625 V steps (up to 2.1 V after switching the corresponding jumper)|
|Memory voltage control
||Auto, 1.80-3.08 V at 0.02 V steps|
|Chipset voltage control
||Northbridge: Auto, 1.10-1.90 V at 0.02 V steps (up to 2.2 V after switching the corresponding jumper)|
Southbridge: Auto, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 V
|FSB voltage control
||Auto, 1.20-1.90 V at 0.02 V steps|
We used BIOS 1306 dated 20.08.08, 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.
The motherboard allows to call up a menu to select a boot device with a certain button during the POST procedure, a convenient way for a once-only boot-up, for example from a CD drive, without making changes in BIOS Setup. If a motherboard fails to bootup for a specified number of times after an overclocking attempt, it automatically starts up with default settings without modifying settings in BIOS Setup, which is very convenient for adjustments.
BIOS includes two integrated utilities. The first one (EZ Flash 2) is often used by other manufacturers. It allows to flash BIOS not only from a floppy or a USB memory stick, but also from hard drives (must be formatted as FAT). Anyway, there is no need to make it a system drive for flashing. You can save/load BIOS profiles, which may come in handy for your overclocking experiments, as most settings can be quickly restored right after clearing CMOS. BIOS Setup supports only two profiles, but the built-in OC Profile utility allows to use profiles saved as files on a hard drive (must be formatted as FAT).
It goes without saying that ASUS offers a great many tweaks for overclockers, and it makes no sense to publish them all without analyzing their relevance and real effect on overclocking. Let's just name some of them, which are not often used in Mid-End products.
For example, you can adjust the onboard master clock by changing the signal format: CPU Clock Skew and MCH Clock Skew = Auto, 100--1500 ps. You can also change GTL Reference Voltage for each CPU core and Northbridge in a wide range at small steps, as well as CPU PLL Voltage (1.50--2.78 V at 0.02 V steps) and PCI-E SATA Voltage (1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8 V). You can also control Load-Line Calibration and CPU Margin Enhancement; DRAM CLK Skew on Channel A1-B2 for each memory module (from -350 to +350 ps); you can enable/disable DRAM Static Read Control, DRAM Read Training, AI Clock Twister, AI Transaction Booster.
- CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 (2.4 GHz, 1066 MHz bus)
- Memory: 2 x 1 GB Corsair CM2X1024-9136C5D (tested in DDR2-800 mode with 4-4-4 timings)
- Graphics card: PowerColor ATI Radeon HD 3870, 512 MB
- HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (SATA, 7200 rpm)
- PSU: HiPro W460GC31
- OS: Windows XP SP2
We'll compare ASUS P5Q Deluxe with several motherboards with the same chipset and several competing ones.
||ASUS P5Q Deluxe (P45)
||MSI P43 Neo-F (P43)
||Biostar TPower I45 (P45) (P45)
||Biostar TP35D2-A7 SE (P35)
||MSI X48C Platinum (X48)
|Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec
|MPEG4 (XviD) encoding, min:sec
|FarCry (Low@640x480), fps
|FarCry (Highest@1600x1200), fps
|Doom 3 (Low@640x480), fps
|Doom 3 (Highest@1600x1200), fps
There is expectedly no noticeable performance differences in any of these tests (even between motherboards with different chipsets) -- it fully agrees with the current situation.
With its retail price tag of about $200, we can certainly recommend ASUS P5Q Deluxe to those users who are ready to spend that much on a motherboard. This model implements full functionality of the chipset, significantly expanding it. There are so many interesting and useful functions added by proprietary technologies that we couldn't help awarding this motherboard for its original design. We also appreciate the excellent choice of electronic components and full support by convenient ASUS software. In other words, it's one of the most interesting top models based on Intel P45. You can also pay attention to a less functional modification of P5Q Deluxe -- P5Q-E. If you want DDR3, take a look at P5Q3 Deluxe.
The motherboard provided by the manufacturer,
ATI Radeon HD 3870 graphics card provided by PowerColor.
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