At the very highest end of the retail motherboard
market, you'll find the ASUS P5E3 Premium/Wifi.N perched with a select few
professional motherboards that offer features and performance that simply don't
show up on lower-priced, more common motherboards.
ASUS went all-out with
the P5E3 Premium/Wifi-AP.N, starting off with Intel's X48 Express chipset paired
with DDR3 memory. This combination is one of the most expensive options for
Socket 775 motherboards, but one that allows for the fastest possible components
to be used to their utmost potential.
The Intel X48 chipset has a lot of bandwidth, with dual
x16 PCI Express 2.0 lanes available for bandwidth hungry videocards, like the
AMD Radeon HD 4870 X2. Memory speeds can be run at 800/1066/1333/1600MHz and
even speeds of 1800MHz and 2000MHz through the X48 Express chipset's use of
Extreme Memory Profiles.
The ASUS P5E3 Premium motherboard has on-board 802.11n
WiFi and the ASUS Wifi access point utility further leverages the capabilities
of the P5E3 Premium motherboard through customized software. ASUS' EPU
technology automatically throttles CPU power draw by dynamically altering power
phases. ASUS' Express Gate, a system-on-a-chip that can be accessed at boot-up.
Overclocking results were equally solid, with PCSTATS reaching a very
respectable 555MHz on the Core 2 Duo E8400 CPU.
However, with any motherboard that gets this complex
there's always a few design flaws that will be introduced. Most troublesome is
the 3D performance for this motherboard - the ASUS P5E3 Premium just isn't
keeping up with other Intel X48 Express motherboards like the Gigabyte
GA-X48-DS5 or the MSI X48 Platinum. PCSTATS' 3Dmark06 and FEAR benchmarks had
the P5E3 Premium a few percentage points behind the competition.
ASUS also needs to
really take a look at the software controls for its ASUS EPU software. It really
can't compare with Gigabyte's competing DES software. Similarly, the ASUS Wifi
AP software is more difficult to control than it should be, and it would nice to
have these features more directly integrated into Windows own networking
Finally we come to ASUS Express Gate..... It is a very
neat concept, but let us down by its very limited software functionality to
things like basic web surfing. It could have been an incredibly useful way of
troubleshooting and repairing the computer system without the need to access a
hard drive or OS!
Considering that ASUS is asking $390 CDN ($320 USD, £220 GBP) for the P5E3
Premium Wifi-AP.N, it would be nice if these flaws didn't exist, but as it
stands they're relatively minor. The P5E3 Premium/Wifi-AP.N motherboard's
built-in Wifi, extensive external storage options and expansion capabilites make
it unique in terms of feature set. Where deep-pocketed enthusiasts are
concerned, the combination of Intel's fastest chipset, the ability to use the
fastest socket 775 processors, and support for the fastest DDR3 memory will make
the P5E3 Premium/Wifi-AP.N a must-have motherboard!
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