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Performance during Overclocking

Running performance tests on Intel P45 Express based mainboards is a not very exciting task, because Intel uses the same memory controller for its last generation chipsets as in the previous solutions. Therefore, P45 based mainboards perform almost the same as their predecessors. The support of PCI Express 2.0 does increase theoretical bandwidth of the graphics bus, but in reality affects the system performance only with two graphics cards working in Crossfire mode, so most users do not really care about it.

Does it mean that we can skip testing the performance of our ASUS P5Q Pro? Not at all. Not only chipset peculiarities affect the mainboard performance, but also BIOS optimizations. And the performance differences between the boards running different BIOS versions will primarily be seen during overclocking. That is why we decided to check how fast ASUS P5Q Pro will be compared wit the previous generation Intel P35 Express based mainboards in overclocked mode.

I have to explain that the idea of this comparison didn’t just come to mind out of the blue. The thing is that ASUS P5Q Pro BIOS Setup does in fact differ from the BIOS Setup of previously tested ASUS mainboards in terms of available parameters. For example, we no longer have Command Rate, but there appeared Ai Clock Twister, which you won’t find by P5K mainboards on Intel P35 chipset. Moreover, during our overclocking tests we noticed that by default ASUS P5Q Pro sets suspiciously high Performance Level, which should also affect the performance numbers.

So, we are going to compare the performance of ASUS P5Q Pro against that of ASUS P5K-E. For our tests we will use Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 processor overclocked to 4.41GHz with a lower 9x multiplier (this way we can emulate overclocking of the youngest CPU from E8000 series on new E0 processor stepping - Core 2 Duo E8400).

The bus frequency in this case was set at 490MHz and the memory worked synchronously as DDR2-980 with 4-4-4-12 timings. These settings were used for both platforms.

Now a few words about the differences in settings. Our today’s main hero, ASUS P5Q Pro, configured as seen on the screenshot above, set Performance Level at 12, which is in fact too high for setting performance records. That is why we manually lowered this latency with the help of Ai Transaction Buster parameter. The minimal Performance Level for ASUS P5Q Pro to boot successfully turned out to be 9. This is the setting we ran all our tests with. Another parameter affecting performance is Ai Clock Twister. It had to be set at Light, otherwise the board would be very unstable.

Unlike ASUS P5Q Pro, P5K-E allows changing DRAM Command Rate in the BIOS Setup. However, we couldn’t use 1T setting, because the system would be very unstable failing during OS booting already. However, we managed to set the Performance Level at a much lower rate than on P5Q Pro. As a result, P5K-E worked stably with Performance Level set at 7.

The results in the table below were obtained with these exact settings:

A quick look at the results table is enough to realize that the new ASUS P5Q Pro mainboard unfortunately loses to the Intel P35 Express based solution in all benchmarks. The reason of this fiasco is evident: ASUS P5Q Pro doesn’t allow suing the same aggressive Performance Level settings as the good old boards on the time-tested P35. I believe we have to ask engineers why this is so. So, even though ASUS P5Q Pro can overclock dual-core processors very well, the performance level in this case will be a little off.

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