Like all modern ASUS motherboards, this board supports the proprietary technology EPU-6 Engine to manage power supply and cooling. It's controlled with a corresponding utility. One of its functions is to decrease the number of active phases in voltage regulators, when the system is not fully loaded -- however, practically all motherboards are now equipped with PWM controllers, which implement this feature specified in VRD 11.1. Besides, the graphics interface of EPU-6 Engine allows to configure several modes for reduced power consumption and overclocking, and switch between them quickly, CPU voltage increased or decreased automatically.
This motherboard also implements a new proprietary technology MemOK! that facilitates system startup with different memory modules. Just press (and hold) a special button the PCB near the corresponding slots to initiate automatic selection of memory settings (frequency, timings, voltage). It will take several reboots to find working settings. So you won't have to mess with BIOS Setup and manual Clear CMOS.
BIOS Setup contains practically nothing of interest: standard minimum level of monitoring, automatic fan speed control for a CPU cooler and a couple of case fans. But you can choose only one of Q-Fan profiles. Flexible fan controls are provided by the Fan Xpert utility in Windows. There are vast overclocking options, but even the hardcore overclockers will apparently prefer proprietary utilities for Windows.
However, as one of the low-end motherboards in this series, the P7P55D LE cannot boast of full functionality of proprietary utilities. In this case, ASUS TurboV is installed in its simplified form without EVO. So it features limited capacity for increasing voltages (CPU PLL and PCH, reference voltages for memory channels). There is no monitoring as such. Besides, there is only one overclocking mode -- manual, when you specify BCLK frequency, voltages for the processor, integrated memory controller, and memory modules.
However, it's possible to save overclocking profiles, which can then be used not only in TurboV, but also in Turbo Key. This compact program detects, when you press the power button (on the PC enclosure), and overclocks the system using the selected profile (the second press exists the overclocked mode.) And finally, AI Suite offers limited monitoring features and allows to start one of the other utilities from the proprietary set, including very useful Fan Xpert.
This motherboard comes with a minimum bundle, we expected nothing more in this case. The box includes two SATA cables (one of them with an L-shaped connector) and one IDE, IO shield, Q-Connector to plug cables from the front panel to corresponding connectors on the board, printed guide, and a DVD with drivers and proprietary utilities.
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 functions:
- Integrated audio based on the 10-channel (7.1+2) HDA codec VIA VT1828S, optical (Toslink) S/PDIF-Out connector on the rear panel and an additional S/PDIF-Out connector on the PCB.
- Gigabit Ethernet, based on Realtek RTL8112L (PCIEx1).
- IDE/SATA-II controller based on the JMicron JMB361 chip (PCIEx1) supporting one IDE/PATA channel for two devices, including CD/DVD drives, and one SATA300 port (eSATA on the rear panel).
All new motherboards from ASUS use audio codecs from VIA. In this case it's the Mid-End VT1828S. It's an interesting codec, which supports HDCP and provides software implementation of a number of DTS technologies -- DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC. The former means that like most modern top codecs, the VT1828S guarantees full quality of digital audio output from Blu-ray via S/PDIF-Out. Unfortunately, modern systems allow this feature only, when audio is output to a receiver that supports modes up to 24 bit, 192 kHz at S/PDIF-In, as modern graphics cards accept only the standard stream of 16 bit, 48 kHz at S/PDIF-In, so they can transfer HD audio via HDMI only if they have a built-in audio codec.
In practice, DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC means emulation of surround audio in a stereo system (and a couple of improvements, such as deeper bass and purer voice from a mike). Besides, this technology is implemented only in Vista (and Windows 7). What concerns Windows XP, we have a clumsy interface of the configuration utility, minimal functionality, and an uninformative main window. Traditionally for ASUS, only one sampling frequency is supported by the S/PDIF-Out -- 48 kHz, not 44.1 kHz.
The integrated audio quality was tested with RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0 and Terratec DMX 6fire sound card. The final grade was Very good in both test modes: 16-bit/44kHz and 16-bit/48kHz.
|Frequency response (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, %
We haven't seen the JMicron JMB361 controller for a long time already. Motherboards usually come with a tad more expensive JMB363, which supports two SATA ports instead of one. Considering the interface this controller is plugged to (PCIEx1), we cannot speak seriously of sterling operation of even a single SATA300 port -- it's only a matter of convenience: thanks to two ports on the rear panel, it's possible to have two external storage drives plugged simultaneously all the time. It's a budget solution. But on the other hand, eSATA drives are not wide spread so far.
Unfortunately, the JMB361 has a shortcoming. Sometimes it's misconfigured by engineers, and IDE drives work in PIO mode in modes controlled by BIOS. In practice it means that if you decide to boot from a system DVD and install this operating system, think again. You invite yourself for half an hour of the installation process, as thousands of small files will take that much time to copy. Unfortunately, this motherboard allows to set a normal mode for your optical drive only in Windows.
This is a usual mid-end motherboard with a reasonable expansion capacity, an unexpectedly complex and high-quality power supply system (for a model of this level), and a basic cooling system which is sufficient though. Still, it's a full-size ATX motherboard with S/PDIF outputs and eSATA ports on the rear panel, meaning you won't have to buy additional accessories. And it costs less than $150 (at the moment of publication). As we have expected, ASUS P7P55D LE has no unique features which could make it a preferable choice for a specific target audience. However, on the whole, it's a promising product, unless you want a computer with two or three graphics cards. Though the board still makes many non-standard configurations possible with the help of optional controllers.
The motherboard was provided by the manufacturer.
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