iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASUS P7P55D Deluxe, EVO Motherboards

Rather just expensive than top-end.

October 29, 2009

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The Clear CMOS button can be accessed without opening the PC enclosure

This motherboard is based on the Intel P55 chipset (P55 bridge). You can read about its features in the corresponding review. Besides, the motherboard offers the following extra features:

  • Integrated audio, based on the 10-channel (7.1+2) HDA codec VIA VT2020, 7.1-channel audio, optical (Toslink) and coaxial S/PDIF-Out jacks on the rear panel and an additional S/PDIF-Out connector on the PCB.
  • Two Gigabit network controllers (10/100/1000 Mbps) based on Realtek RTL8112L (PCIe 1x) and Realtek RTL8110SC (PCI) with a number of enterprise-level technologies.
  • IDE/SATA-II controller based on the JMicron JMB363 chip (PCIEx1) supporting one IDE (PATA) channel (two devices) including CD/DVD drives, and one SATA300 port (for eSATA on the bundled bracket).
  • SATA-II RAID controller based on the JMicron JMB322 chip (SATA interface, plugged to the free JMB363 port) supporting two SATA300 devices and RAID 0 and 1 (Drive Xpert).
  • FireWire, based on VIA VT6308P (PCI) supporting two ports (one of them is installed on the rear panel).

This motherboard unexpectedly employs an audio codec from VIA -- VT2020. While nearly all modern motherboards use one of Realtek's solutions, ASUS had generally been loyal to Analog Devices. But this time it chose VIA, products of which seem to be forgotten now, except for miniature EPIA boards. However, cheap HDA codecs are not the apex of high-tech. It's hard to speak of any noticeable advantage of this or that solution here, even dealing with specification parameters only.

The integrated audio quality was tested using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0.5 and the Terratec DMX 6fire sound card. Its total grade is very good for both test modes -- 16 bit, 44 kHz and 16 bit, 48 kHz. We cannot say that its results set this codec aside in a good or bad sense -- it's the same level as in all competing solutions. We noticed no peculiarities in the course of our tests.

Test 16 bit, 44 kHz 16 bit, 48 kHz
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB +0.02, -0.21 +0.03, -0.26
Noise level, dB (A) -94.6 -95.2
Dynamic range, dB (A) 94.2 95.1
THD, % 0.0086 0.0079
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB(A) -77.9 -78.8
Intermodulation distortion + noise, % 0.012 0.0092
Channel crosstalk, dB -93.7 -94.1
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.011 0.0090
General performance: Very good Very good

Digital S/PDIF-Out supports only one of two popular sampling rates -- 48 kHz. Interestingly, ASUS is the only big manufacturer, which motherboards suffer from such problems. In older days they could have cast the blame on the codec manufacturer (but according to communications with ADI, their codecs also support the sampling rate of 44.1 kHz, and this restriction was added in drivers by ASUS request). But now they can only make a helpless gesture.

Strictly speaking, there are no VT2020 specs on the official VIA web site, but according to ASUS (and in comparison with VT1828 specifications) this HDA codec should support a number of interesting technologies. For one, HDCP support guarantees full quality of digital audio output from Blu-ray via S/PDIF-Out. For two, some proprietary multi-channel technologies could have been useful (DTS/Dolby/SRS, etc), but drivers do not implement these features for this motherboard. Speaking of software support, it does not stand up to the top status of this board -- at least in Windows XP: clumsy interface of the configuration utility, minimal functionality, uninformative main window. However, it's a tad better in Windows Vista (good-looking interface of the configuration utility, DTS technologies to improve audio quality and create the effect of multi-channel audio), so we have all grounds to hope that it will be even pleasant to use integrated audio from VIA in Windows 7.

Realtek network controllers used in this motherboard can be united into a single two-gigabit interface (teaming), which should significantly increase system bandwidth in cases needing more than 1GBps. Moreover, a network driver balances the load in the teamed channel (to distribute the load evenly between both physical interfaces, if possible).When one of the ports (or cables) fails, all the traffic is routed to the other (channel throughput is halved in this case, of course) to avoid disconnecting clients from this server. Additional parameters of Realtek network controllers can be configured with a proprietary utility from this company.

The onboard JMicron JMB322 RAID controller does not require drivers, so its a noticeably better solution than typical hardware and software controllers. Top motherboards from various manufacturers are regularly equipped with this or other RAID controllers with similar functionality. And ASUS has recently started using this very JMicron module to implement its proprietary Drive Xpert technology.

JMicron JMB363 is a widespread solution, and we have learned at first hand that it has no problems with PATA support (as modern chipsets from Intel lack this feature). 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.

The only difference of P7P55D EVO is a cheaper audio codec from VIA -- VT1828S. However, no major features were cut down in this codec, and the EVO demonstrates similar test results: also very good for both modes.

Test 16 bit, 44 kHz 16 bit, 48 kHz
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB +0.01, -0.09 +0.02, -0.16
Noise level, dB (A) -94.7 -95.5
Dynamic range, dB (A) 94.4 95.6
THD, % 0.0078 0.0071
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB(A) -78.5 -79.7
Intermodulation distortion + noise, % 0.011 0.0089
Channel crosstalk, dB -96.2 -95.4
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.010 0.0084
General performance: Very good Very good

EVO does not differ from Deluxe in the set of interface controllers, and there is even one improvement on the rear panel: eSATA connector (it's installed on the bracket with a couple of USB ports on the Deluxe motherboard). Unfortunately, we cannot publish a photo here, because the rear panel of our old revision did not differ from that of the Deluxe mobo.


We've dedicated most of this article to the Deluxe model, because these motherboards look very much alike, and the EVO model was represented by a preliminary revision. Some parts of it had been significantly overhauled by the time it went on sale. Let's give a recap. Top models (but not the best in their series) ASUS P7P55D Deluxe and P7P55D EVO implement all features of the chipset and processor, offering high-quality power supply and cooling, a rich set of peripheral controllers. Their proprietary software is up to the mark, allowing to overclock a motherboard, monitor system parameters, and control power management modes. What we didn't like is the lack of eSATA on the rear panel (it does not concern EVO) and eSATA with power (it has to do with both of them). It's not a big problem, but it's still a drawback for top motherboards.

If you have to choose between these two models, it's really easy. Deluxe has a tad better power supply system and a formally better audio codec. But EVO offers eSATA on the rear panel (in case of Deluxe, you will have to install it on a bracket with two additional USB ports). You have to agree that the boards are very similar. The key difference is TurboV Remote that is not available for EVO. In our opinion, it's a nice toy, convenient to use and well-supported by the proprietary software. But what does it give to its user? Practically all its functions to interact with EPU-6 Engine and TurboV EVO can be implemented (less conveniently) with a standard keyboard, a mouse will be even more convenient. Powering on/off a computer with a single button is not a novelty either. Clear CMOS button is the only control that makes your life easier. So is TurboV Remote worth its price? It's up to you to decide.

Motherboards provided by ASUS, Apogee GT memory modules provided by Walton Chaintech.

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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, design

Page 2: Design, part 2

Page 3: Design, part 3

Page 4: Features, conclusions

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