iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASUS P6T Deluxe OC Palm Edition Motherboard

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This motherboard is based on the Intel X58 chipset (X58 Northbridge and ICH10R Southbridge). You can read about its features in the corresponding review. Besides, the motherboard offers the following extra functions:

  • Integrated 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 88E8056 (PCIEx1)
  • IDE/SATA-II controller based on the Marvell 88SE6111 chip (PCIEx1) supporting two ATA133 devices and one SATA300 port (implemented as eSATA here)
  • SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) RAID controller based on the Marvell 88SE6320 chip supporting two drives that can form RAID 0 and 1
  • FireWire, based on VIA VT6308P (PCI) supporting two ports (one of them is installed on the rear panel).

As we deal with the three-channel memory controller for the first time, we should explain some of motherboard's features here (in combination with a processor, of course). Any number of DDR3-800/1066 memory modules can be installed (no more than six, of course), and the memory controller always provides dual- or three-channel access to the lower memory volume in one of the channels (the rest of memory is addressed in a single-channel mode). Memory can operate at a higher frequency only with the increased BCLK (CPU cores and QPI controller must work with reduced multipliers). Besides, overclocking to DDR3-1600 and using XMP data is possible only when one module per channel is installed. The total memory volume can amount up to 24 GB, memory modules with ECC are not supported. Besides, it's not recommended to install memory modules for overclockers that require increased voltages (above 1.65 V) -- it may damage a processor. You may learn more details about motherboard specs and read the list of processors and memory modules tested for compatibility on the official product page (links at the end of the article).

That's one of the first desktop motherboards with a SAS controller. Another motherboard with this feature that passed through our lab was only MSI K9A2 Platinum. SAS stands for Serial Attached SCSI (don't confuse it with Server Attached Storage). It's a de facto standard interface for high-speed hard drives designed for servers. However, SAS and SATA drives are plugged to the motherboard in the same way. Physically, it's the same connector to a controller (with the same number of ports in a connector), and SATA drives can even be plugged to a SAS controller (but not vice versa: it's one-way compatibility only).

What's important for a home user, SAS drives are usually much faster than even the fastest SATA drives -- owing to the inner command structure (it's SCSI for SAS) and higher rotational speed of platters (and consequently a higher data exchange rate): about 10000-15000 rpm for SAS versus 5400-7200 rpm for SATA. Besides, SAS drives are generally much less capacious and more expensive.

Neither ASUS nor Marvell provide technical details about the 88SE6320 and interface of this SAS controller. Using a method of elimination we can assume that it's PCI Express. But we can only stipulate about its bandwidth (number of PCI-E lanes). We hope that ASUS engineers approached the problem very seriously and designed a working solution with enough bandwidth to service SAS RAID.

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. Here is its total grade: very good. Note that the IDE controller installed on this motherboard (modern chipsets from Intel lack the integrated solution in their Southbridge) 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.


Testbed configurations:

  • Processors:

    • Intel Core i7-920 (2.66 GHz)
    • Intel Core 2 Duo E8200 (2.66 GHz, 1333MHz FSB)
  • Memory:

    • 2 x 1GB Kingston KHX13000D3LLK2/2G (tested in DDR3-1066 mode with 7-7-7-20-1T timings and in DDR3-1333 mode with 7-5-5-17-1T timings)
    • 2 x 1GB Corsair CM2X1024-9136C5D (tested in DDR2-800 mode at 4-4-4-12-2T)
  • Graphics card: PowerColor ATI Radeon HD 3870, 512 MB
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (SATA, 7200 rpm)
  • PSU: HiPro W460GC31
  • OS: Windows XP SP2

As it's our first test of a Nehalem processor, we have nothing to compare its results to. To be more exact, we have, but it's a topic for a separate long article. In this article we'll confine ourselves to results of Core i7-920 on the ASUS P6T Deluxe motherboard, the integrated memory controller operating in single-channel and dual-channel modes -- unfortunately, we had no opportunity to test the three-channel mode at the time of our tests. On the other hand, it's a topic for another article as well.

Test Core i7-920
ASUS P6T Deluxe
Core i7-920
ASUS P6T Deluxe
Core 2 Duo E8200
MSI X48C Platinum
Core 2 Duo E8200
MSI X48C Platinum
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 3:55 3:49 3:39 3:45
MPEG4 (XviD) encoding, min:sec   2:32 3:03 3:03
FarCry (Low@640x480), fps   345 475 471
FarCry (Highest@1600x1200), fps   171 182 182
Doom 3 (Low@640x480), fps 294 299 261 251
Doom 3 (Highest@1600x1200), fps 192 193 196 193

We won't draw any conclusions about the speed of Core i7-920 (in combination with ASUS P6T Deluxe or without it) using these test results, as we can name at least two reasons that distort the real performance of this platform. We recommend you to read our detailed Nehalem reviews for information about Core i7 performance:

The motherboard provided by the manufacturer,
ATI Radeon HD 3870 graphics card provided by PowerColor.

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Page 1: Introduction, features

Page 2: External module

Page 3: Functionality, performance

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