Closer Look at Asus P5E
So, Asus P5E is a mainboard based on the new Intel X38 chipset and supporting DDR2 SDRAM. As a result, it is compatible with all LGA775 processors including the Penryn CPUs and features two fully-fledged PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots. Asus engineers decided not to put the third graphics card slot on their board. Instead, there are three PCI Express x1 slots. Note that there are also some models with three PCI Express x16 slots in Asus’ product lineup, however, all of them are designed to work with DDR3 SDRAM. Asus P5E works with more widely spread and less expensive DDR2 memory, which can be installed into four DIMM slots onboard.
I believe it is no secret for anyone that Asus P5E mainboard is a younger sister of another X38 based solution with DDR2 SDRAM support – Asus Maximus Formula that belongs to the Republic of Gamers series aimed at the high-end market segment. Although P5E and Maximus Formula are priced and positioned differently, they are really close relatives and even use the same PCB layout. The funny thing is that the mainboard we got had “Maximus Formula” name painted white on the PCB and then covered with a “correct” P5E sticker.
However, you shouldn’t think that less expensive Asus P5E has the same functional features as Maximus Formula. The developers have definitely changed the design in order to lower its production cost. You can actually see the major differences right away: P5E has no second Gigabit network controller and has simpler cooling system for the chipset and processor voltage regulator. Moreover, there are a few smaller differences, too. For example, our board features only four fan connectors, there are no Power On and Reset button on the PCB, no connectors for external thermal sensors and no LED indicators for the voltages on the major mainboard knots (aka Voltiminder LED technology). There are fewer accessories bundled with the board: for example, P5E comes with no LCD poster indicator and no CD disk with additional software (Maximus Formula comes with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game, 3DMark06 Advanced Edition benchmark and Kaspersky antivirus).
It is arguable if the price of Asus P5E dropped down noticeably as a result of these modifications. Most of them do not really affect the product’s functionality. At the same time, the board became almost $60 cheaper, which we definitely please those of you who are not used to spending a lot. Especially, since it shouldn’t affect the board’s stability and reliability. Asus P5E uses the same high-quality components (solid-state capacitors with organic polymer electrolyte and ferrite core chokes) as Maximus Formula.
By the way, the sound tract implementation on Asus P5E is typical of premium mainboards. Its analogue part based on an 8-channel ADI 1988B HD codec is placed on SupremeFX II daughter card that fits into the first PCI Express x1 slot. This is a very decent solution, especially compared with other integrated sound controllers. The SoundMax codec used in it comes with very advanced drivers with progressive sound post-processing techniques. The sound quality also didn’t disappoint us: the screening of SupremeFX II card did pay back well.
I would like to pay special attention to the cooling solution used on this board for heating parts. It consists of a few aluminum heatsinks connected with one another via three copper heatpipes with oval section.
Although this system looks like a single unit, it actually consists of two independent parts. One part including two heatsinks and a heatpipe between them is fastened on top of the processor voltage regulator. The second part dissipating heat from the chipset includes small South Bridge heatsink, large North Bridge heatsink and an additional heatsink with thin ribbed array sitting on top of the voltage regulator heatsink at the back edge of the board. This heatsink can accommodate an additional centrifugal fan shipped with the board.