The Asus P5Q-EM motherboard is an impressive piece
of work for cost-concious applications that require smooth HD playback. The
Intel GMA X4500HD integrated graphics processor is a clear improvement over
Intel's previous generation IGP, but it is still very much and IGP with limited
use. Standard desktop applications running on the G45 Express IGP - check. High
Definition 1080P Blu-Ray playback over the Intel X4500HD - check. Playable
framerates from current 3D DirectX10 games over the G45 Express - nope. The G45
is technically DX10 compliant, and you may be able to play games at lower
resolutions, but save yourself the pain and spring for a good economical PCI
Express x16 video card from nVidia or ATI.
AMD engineered its 790GX IGP with onboard memory to be
more capable in the gaming realm. Intel is taking a different approach, focusing
exclusively on good solid High Definition content playback over DVI/HDMI
outputs. In that respect the Asus P5Q-EM meets all requirements.
Intel's GMA X4500HD is more than capable of HD video playback because
Intel engineered H.264, VC-1 and MPEG-2 hardware decoding into the G45 Express
chipset so these tasks are offloaded from the processor.
Azalia HD codec for 8.1 channel stereo output can output
over the HDMI jack or via the optical S/PDIF, which is a nice touch
for those of you putting together a killer home theatre system on the
Overclocking was not a particular strong suit for the Asus P5Q-EM motherboard, and
frankly PCSTATS was expecting better from the G45 Express chipset. Raising the
front side bus from 333MHz to 400MHz wasn't a problem, but moving past 430MHz
proved impossible. As always though, overclocking will depend on your exact
motherboard, so PCSTATS overclocking findings may not be indicative of the
performance you get at home.
So how does this all stack up as a
value? Well the Asus P5Q-EM motherboard retails for around $180 CDN ($150 USD, £99 GBP).There aren't many other
microATX motherboards out there that support these kinds of features, indeed a
lot of ATX motherboards can't compete with the Asus P5Q-EM's
Home theatre PC aficionados or those simply looking for a
tiny motherboard with a giant-sized feature list would do well to keep an eye on
the Asus P5Q-EM motherboard. It offers many features that home theatre
system builders and even general office PC workstations will appreciate, while
being versatile enough to justify the premium price.
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