Asus P5E Mainboard Review

Today we are going to talk about a promising and relatively inexpensive solution from Asus based on Intel X38 chipset that supports DDR2 SDRAM and features PCB layout of a Maximus Formula.

by Ilya Gavrichenkov
11/18/2007 | 10:55 AM

I have to admit that the absence of articles on our site devoted to solutions based on the newest top core logic from Intel – X38 – is a serious omission. Ours labs have been desperately trying to get started on testing these products for over a month now. However, for a number of objective and subjective reasons we have yet failed to release any materials. For example, instead of this article destined to open a series of Intel X38 based mainboard reviews we were supposed to have an Asus P5E3 Deluxe mainboard review that has been sitting in our lab for a few weeks now. But although we have successfully used this board for our Intel Penryn tests (see our article called Second Iteration of Core Micro-Architecture: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 CPU Review), we are not ready yet to offer you a fully fledged review of its features and functionality.

 

The thing is that the Asus P5E3 Deluxe sample we have available suffers from the whole list of problems emerging during FSB and memory overclocking. Besides, the aggressively promoted Asus Express Gate function doesn’t work on our board at all. We have checked out almost a dozen of different beta BIOS’s by now, but still failed to get our board to run as flawlessly as an Asus product is supposed to. We have just received a new P5E3 Deluxe sample, so we will definitely resume our tests, and hopefully change our impression from working with this solution for the better.

In order to eliminate the unpleasantly long gap in our mainboard reviews we decided to take a close look at a few other solutions based on Intel X38 chipset. Our eyes stopped on another Asus mainboard – the P5E. There are two things that make this products stand out positively against the background of other Intel X38 based solutions. Firstly, it is a relatively inexpensive product that is currently selling for $220, which is not much at all for an Intel X38 board. Secondly, this mainboard works not with the new expensive DDR3 SDRAM, but supports the much wider spread DDR2 memory, even though officially Intel is very reluctant to admit the universality of their chipset memory controller. These peculiarities may make Asus P5E a pretty wide-spread solution, very demanded among computer enthusiasts. In fact there is only one thing missing for Asus P5E to become a very popular product: our absolute confidence that it will be able to offer better performance and overclockability than the impeccable solutions on Intel P35 chipset. Actually, this is exactly what our today’s article is about: search for Asus P5E’s advantages that will position this mainboard above existing alternatives on the mainstream core logic sets.

We would like to start our discussion of this Intel X38 based mainboard with a closer look at the actual chipset.

Closer Look at Intel X38

Intel X38 chipset was initially intended as new core logic set for expensive mainboards. In fact it implies that X38 came to replace the pretty old i975X that doesn’t officially support promising 45nm Penryn processors and comes with a not very up-to-date South Bridge. At least, according to Intel.

We believe that the situation should be regarded a little bit differently. i975X that has been out there for a considerable while now, it is not longer appealing to computer enthusiasts who have turned to Intel P35 based mainboards these days. The only trump of the i975X chipset - support of Crossfire as PCI Express x8 + PCI Express x8 – is actually not such a great advantage at all. First, Intel P35 chipset can also support Crossfire (although as PCI Express x16 + PCI Express x4). Second, AMD’s contemporary graphics accelerators are not as fast as Nvidia ones. Therefore, there are very few users who would be interested in building a Crossfire system. Summing up all these arguments, we decided not to compare the new Intel X38 against the i975X. Instead we will take the recently announced Intel P35 as its primary opponent, because it boasts close functionality but at the same time can be used to build a little less expensive mainboard solutions.

Intel X38 chipset is very similar to Intel P35. Namely, it features traditional dual-hub architecture and comes with the same ICH9 South Bridge that you can clearly see from the flow-chart below:

The main peculiarity of the Intel X38 chipset is the support of two PCI Express x16 graphics card slots each having 16 “real” PCI Express lanes. This is the first Intel chipset boasting this feature. In other words, Intel X38 supports the fastest modification of AMD Crossfire technology. As for the SLI technology implementation on Intel based mainboards, Nvidia continues to provide no support for it in the drivers, although nothing on the hardware level prevents this technology from working perfectly fine on Intel X38 based platforms.

Support of two PCI Express x16 busses in Intel X38 North Bridge may allow mainboard makers to layout three PCI Express x16 slots on a single board. Although the third slot will be connected to the PCI Express x4 bus via the South Bridge, this shouldn’t hinder simultaneous support of three graphics cards working in Triple crossfire configuration that is due for official release next year.

The new Intel North Bridge acquired not only more PCI Express lanes. Now it also supports faster graphics bus: PCI Express 2.0. In practical terms it stands for double the bandwidth. Now PCI Express x16 slots feature 8GB/s bandwidth in each direction. However, you will need graphics cards supporting this interface to be able to really enjoy this speed in reality, and they are not available in the market yet. PCI Express 2.0 specification implies full backward compatibility with the old graphics cards that is why Intel X38 based mainboards can work absolutely fine with all previous generation graphics solutions as well.

Even though most innovations introduced in Intel X38 deal with the graphics bus, there are a few new things about the SDRAM support as well. Although the Intel X38 memory controller is compatible with DDR2 as well as DDR3 SDRAM, it is not very much different from the memory controller of Intel P35. The newer chipset acquired XMP (Extended Memory Profiles) technology support. It is somewhat similar to Nvidia EPP (Enhanced Performance Profiles) Intel introduced for DDR3 SDRAM. In fact, it implies SPP extensions with information needed to use these memory modules for overclocking needs. Corresponding profiles added to the SPD bear the info on frequency, voltage and timings settings.

These are about the only differences between X38 and P35. However everything we have just mentioned turned out more than enough to require significant changes in the North Bridge of the new core logic. Of course, it affected the heat dissipation in the first place. The Intel X38 North Bridge features 36.5W typical heat dissipation, while the same characteristic for Intel P35 equals only 16W. Although the new chipset is manufactured using pretty up-to-date 65nm production process, the high TDP forced Intel to equip the chip with the same type of a heat-spreader lid that we have only seen on CPUs and server chipsets before.

Intel X38 chipset costs $50, which is about $20 more than the price of Intel P35. For end-users it means that the mainboards based on it will hardly be any cheaper than $200 a piece. To make proper justifications for such high price let’s compare the Intel X38 and Intel P35 specifications side by side:

Here I would only like to add that Intel is going to release an enhanced modification of its X38 chipset in the near future, which will most likely be called X48. The key feature of this chipset will be official support of promising Penryn processors with 400MHz bus. However, I have to be fair and say that high-quality mainboards built on Intel X38 and Intel P35 can mostly work just fine with these processors already.

Package and Accessories

Asus P5E mainboard we are going to review today is one of the least expensive products on Intel X38. You can see it from the simple model name that has no “Deluxe”, “Premium” or “Extreme” titles. Moreover, it is a pretty simple product from the functional standpoint, too. There are few additional controllers on Asus P5E PCB, and most interfaces are implemented through the chipset. All this is clearly visible from the mainboard photo and formal specification:

ASUS P5E

CPUs

LGA775 processors: Celeron, Pentium 4, Pentium D, 
Pentium 4 XE, Pentium XE, Core 2 Duo, 
Core 2 Quad and Core 2 Extreme

Chipset

Intel X38 (X38 MCH + ICH9R)

FSB frequencies

200-800MHz (with 1MHz increment)

Overclocking friendly 
functions

Adjustable voltages: processor Vcore, Vmem, PLL, 
FSB, North and South Bridge.
Independently adjustable PCI Express bus frequency.

Memory

4 DDR2 DIMM slots for dual-channel 
DDR2-1067/800/667/533 SDRAM

PCI Express x16 slots

2 PCI Express 2.0 x16

PCI Express x1 slots

3

PCI expansion slots

2

USB 2.0 ports

12 (6 – on the rear panel)

IEEE1394 ports

2 (by VIA VT6308P controller)

ATA-100/133

1 ATA-133 channel (by JMicron JMB368 controller)

Serial ATA

6 Serial ATA-300 channels 
(in the chipset, with RAID support)

ATA RAID support

RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 in the chipset

Integrated sound

8-channel HD codec: ADI AD1988B

Integrated network

Gigabit Ethernet (by Marvell 88E8056 controller)

Additional features

None

BIOS

AMI BIOS v02.61

Form-factor

ATX, 305mm x 244mm

The board is shipped in a traditional black Asus box. The front of the box is decorated with different logos and with a very brave statement that Asus Exclusive Energy Processing Unit allows saving up to 58.6% of CPU power.

The back of the box is more truthful and informative. There is a detailed specification of the board and a photo. We were surprised to see no traditional carry handle on this package. Looks like Asus tried to lower the end price by saving on small things.

We didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary from a box without a carry handle. However, it turned out filled with a lot of goodies: the board itself; a user’s manual; a CD disk with drivers and software; a set of FDD, PATA and SATA cables; I/O Shield for the case rear panel; an additional bracket with two USB and one IEEE1394 ports; Asus’ brand name Q-Connector set; centrifugal rotor fan for the chipset cooling system and SupremeFX II daughter card. We have already got acquainted with this card from our previous Asus mainboard reviews: it carries the analogue part of the sound tract and should be installed into PCI Express x1 slot.

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.

The cooling system is pretty massive and takes a lot of room on the PCB. That is why you may have hard times installing massive CPU coolers on Asus P5E. However, we still managed to fit the Scythe Infinity cooler in, although it took a lot of effort, I have to admit.

We cannot complain about the efficiency of this cooling system, it copes well with cooling all major mainboard components. By the way, the Maximus Formula cooling system features almost the same configuration, with that only difference that the heatsinks feature pin-arrays instead of ribbed ones.

For the first time Asus North Bridge heatsink is fastened with spring screws. That is why you can see an aluminum plate on the reverse side of the PCB right beneath the chipset North Bridge. It serves as a backplate in this case.

Luckily, Asus didn’t follow into Gigabyte’s footsteps, and this plate is pretty small, so it will not hinder the installation of any processor cooler featuring a backplate of their own. Although, you will have really hard time trying to remove this simply screwed cooling system from the North Bridge. The thermal pad between the chip and the heatsink is extremely sticky, so it may be a real challenge to tear the heatsink off the chip without damaging the mainboard.

Processor voltage regulator on Asus P5E boasts traditional 8-phase design. However it works on a new ADP3228 controller that is actually called EPU (Energy Processing Unit).

The peculiarity of voltage regulator circuitry on Asus P5E is the dynamic switching between 8 phases depending on the processor voltage consumption. In case of low CPU utilization its power consumption is also low and the four-phase algorithm is employed. All eight phases get involved only in aggressive work modes, when the processor power consumption increases. Asus engineers hope that this trick will help them reduce the power losses in the processor voltage regulator circuitry thus reducing the power consumption of Asus P5E based platforms. However, you shouldn’t think that this will save you a lot of power. The marketing promise of 56.8% is nothing but a rosy myth working to catch unsophisticated users.

The overall PCB design is very good. All connectors are located very conveniently, SATA and PATA ports are even turned parallel to the PCB. The only thing I have to point out is the location of the Clear CMOS switch (yes, it is a switch indeed, not a jumper), as the installed graphics card will prevent you from reaching it.

The mainboard rear panel carries 6 USB 2.0 ports, Firewire connector, Gigabit network port, PS/2 keyboard connector, a coaxial and optical sound output ports. All six analogue sound connectors are laid out on SupremeFX II card. There are so few connectors on the mainboard rear panel, because most of the space there is taken by the air exhaust for the chipset cooling system. I have to point out that all recent Asus mainboards, including P5E, have no second PS/2 connector for the mouse, so keep it in mind when putting your system together.

By the way, I would like to draw your attention to one more “brand name” peculiarity of the P5E mainboard design: DIMM slots shifted away from the PCB edge. They did it because of the dual-phase memory voltage regulator located right above the DDr2 slots. However, it didn’t affect the convenience of working with the mainboard since there is enough room between the DIMMs and the graphics card.

BIOS

Asus P5E mainboard was tested with the BIOS version 0401 dating back to November 6, 2007.

BIOS Setup of Asus P5E mainboard looks very common for those who are familiar with Asus solutions. Therefore, I don’t think you will have any questions about mainboard configuration procedure. The only innovation in the BIOS interface is a new way of voltage setting. Instead of traditional drop-down menu all values can now be entered using keyboard or + and – keys.

All overclocking related options are gathered in Extreme Tweaker section. Here you can manually set the processor frequency multiplier, FSB frequency in the interval between 100 and 800MHz, PCI Express bus frequency and FSB Strap frequency. There is also alternative automatic FSB frequency adjustment that uses EPP/XMP (if the memory supports overclocker profiles in SPD). When the automatic mode is activated, the board selects the optimal system bus frequency on its own.

For memory frequency setting the boast has almost the same set of FSB:Mem dividers as its predecessors on Intel P35 chipset. There is only one new divider – 3:4. Now the complete list of supported dividers looks as follows: 1:1, 5:6, 4:5, 3:4, 2:3, 5:8, 3:5 and 1:2. During system bus overclocking some of these dividers may become unavailable, namely, we couldn’t achieve decent results with FSB:Mem set at 4:5. However, since there is a pretty big choice of options available, it is hardly a critical issue.

It is fairly easy to set dividers in BIOS Setup. For each divider you pick the board immediately displays the resulting memory frequency depending on the FSB setting. Moreover, you can also see the default timings at the same time that also helps configure the memory subsystem more efficiently.

Asus P5E allows adjusting all the timing settings:

The list of available parameters and supported ranges are given in the table below:

Besides the timings adjustment, Asus P5E BIOS has additional options that can also affect memory controller performance. Among them are DRAM Static Read Control and Transaction Booster, which we have already discussed in our reviews of P5K mainboard series (see our article called Asus P5K Deluxe Mainboard: Second Encounter), and a new option called Ai Clock Twister.

Of course we couldn’t help checking out the efficiency of Ai Clock Twister. Therefore, we decided to perform a short system performance test with different Ai Clock Twister settings. We tested a system based on Asus P5E mainboard with FSB increased to 450MHz. Core 2 Duo E6750 processor was configured as 8 x 450MHz, i.e. was overclocked to 3.6GHz. The memory worked as DDR2-1081 with 4-4-4-12 timings.

As we see from the results, Ai Clock Twister option has certain effect on performance and may help fine tune the system. However, it doesn’t have an overwhelming effect: the performance improves by just a few tenths of a percent. So, Transaction Booster remains the most valuable BIOS Setup function, just like for Asus P5K mainboard lineup. It has much bigger influence on the memory subsystem practical bandwidth and latency.

Asus P5E offers pretty rich variety of settings when it comes to voltage adjustment:

Moreover, BIOS Setup also offers options for setting CPU GTL Reference coefficient that may be very helpful during quad-core processors overclocking.

I have to say that P5E is not free from a classical drawback of all Asus mainboards: significant processor Vcore drop under Vdroop load. We performed some tests with a quad-core CPU running at 3.6GHz and revealed that the processor voltage drops by 0.048V. Luckily, there is useful advice online on how to modify the mainboard in a quick way to eliminate this unpleasant effect that can hinder successful overclocking. Asus, unfortunately, didn’t offer any solution of their own to this problem. The BIOS of P5E doesn’t have the CPU Voltage Damper introduced in the P5K series, and the available Loadline Calibration option didn’t prove efficient enough.

By the way, we noticed the processor voltage got simply reduced. For example, our mainboard sample sent 0.058V less to the processor than was set in the BIOS. You should also keep it in mind.

Besides the most important for an overclocker Extreme Tweaker section, there are a few other BIOS Setup pages worth paying attention to. For instance, CPU Configuration page allows you to manage processor technologies and get the general info on the system processor.

And this is Hardware Monitoring page. As you can see, the board allows adjusting fan rotation speeds depending on the processor and system temperatures.

You should also check out the EZ Flash 2 and O.C.Profile utilities integrated into BIOS Setup.

The first one allows refreshing the BIOS from floppy disks and USB drives directly from the Setup, while the second lets you save settings in profile format. The profiles can be saved in nonvolatile mainboard memory as well as files on the hard drive, which is very convenient in case you want to share your profiles with anyone else.

Overclocking

From overclockers’ standpoint Asus P5E mainboard features a very good BIOS Setup. Let’s see how Asus P5E will behave in practical overclocking experiments. Our overclocking testbed included not only this actual board, but also 2GB DDR2 from Corsair (Dominator TWIN2X2048-8888C4DF), OCZ GeForce 8800GTX graphics card, Western Digital Raptor WD1500AHFD HDD and SilverStone SST-ST85ZF power supply unit. We used a Zalman CNPS9700 LED processor cooler, too.

First of all we decided to determine the maximum FSB frequency when the board would remain stable and reliable. We tested with a Core 2 Duo E6750 processor. For stability check we ran Prime95 25.3 program for 30 minutes in Large FFT and Blend modes.

Asus P5E proved totally up to our expectations. Our processor was running stably without any problems at up to 440MHz FSB frequency. We didn’t even have to change any voltages other than Vcore and Vmem for that. However, further overclocking led to evident instability, so we had to dig a little deeper into system fine tuning.

Further tests showed that FSB frequency increase above 440MHz requires raising the North Bridge voltage. By raising this parameter only to 1.4V we could push the FSB speed to 465MHz. with the North Bridge voltage at 1.55V the board runs flawlessly at about 500MHz FSB, although in this case an additional fan is required on the chipset cooling system.

The maximum overclocking result was achieved at 1.65V North Bridge voltage. In this case the board would start and remain stable at 520MHz FSB.

We didn’t have to increase CPU PLL Voltage and FSB Termination Voltage, they were at their default values of 1.5V and 1.2V respectively. The memory was clocked using 1:1 divider at 1040MHz with 4-4-4-12 timings.

I have to stress that further increase of the North Bridge voltage didn’t have any positive effect. The FSB overclocking potential would drop that indicated chipset overheating and required replacing the chipset cooling system with something more efficient.

However, contemporary mainboards have been coping successfully with dual-core processors overclocking for quite a while now. It is the quad-core solutions that seem to be of most interest these days. Therefore, the second part of our overclocking experiments was devoted to Core 2 Extreme QX6850 overclocking.

I would like to say right away that quad-core processors overclocking on Asus P5E mainboard is as simple and quick as dual-core processors overclocking. To achieve maximum results it is enough to simply raise the processor Vcore, Vmem and chipset North Bridge voltage following almost the same rules as in the previous case.

However, maximum FSB frequency when the board remained stable turned out considerably lower than in the previous case. Our best result is 460MHz.

We increased the chipset North Bridge voltage to 1.55V; CPU PLL Voltage, FSB Termination Voltage and CPU GTL Reference were at their nominal values. The memory was working at 1105MHz with 4-4-4-12 timings, i.e. we used 5:6 FSB:Mem divider.

By the way, the North Bridge temperature hits 70-75ºC during such quad-core processor overclocking, despite the additional fan included with the mainboard. It is another indication that Intel X38 platforms are more dependent on efficient chipset system cooling than Intel P35 based ones, because the new North Bridge dissipates almost twice as much heat.

Testbed and Methods

Since Asus P5E mainboard is based on the new Intel X38 chipset it is especially interesting to check out its performance side by side with that of Intel P35 based solutions available in the today’s market. However, Intel didn’t promise that the new top core logic set will have any additional memory controller optimizations, so we didn’t actually expect the tests to reveal anything outstanding.

We decided to compare the performance of our Asus P5E mainboard against that of a popular Asus P5K Premium based on Intel P35 chipset. Just like our today’ main hero, this board also works with DDR2 SDRAM. The testbeds were built with the following equipment:

Performance in Nominal Mode

The first series of tests were performed with the processor working at its default speed of 3.0GHz set as 9 x 333MHz. The memory frequency in this case was set at 1066MHz with 4-4-4-12 timings.

As usual, we will first check out synthetic benchmarks testing the memory subsystem performance. This parameter is crucial for the performance of mainboards for Intel processors. For our tests we used Lavalys Everest 4.20 utility.

In synthetic tests Asus P5E memory controller is a little bit more efficient than Asus P5K memory controller.

But before we make any conclusions let’s check out the situation in complex benchmarks and real applications.

The results of application tests prove the conclusions you may have made after checking out the Everest results. Asus P5E is a slightly faster mainboard, at least in nominal mode. The average performance advantage over the Asus P5K Premium is about 1.3%.

Performance during Overclocking

Besides the tests in nominal mode, we would also like to compare the mainboards’ performance in overclocked systems. The thing is that relative performance of overclocker platforms is very often different from what we see in nominal mode.

For the second round of tests we decided to set the FSB frequency at 450MHz. We used the same Core 2 Extreme X6850 processor overclocked to 3.6GHz set as 8 x 450MHz. The processor Vcore was increased to 1.45V to ensure better stability. DDR2 memory was running at 1080MHz and the timings were set at 4-4-4-12.

Let’s start with results of synthetic benchmarks:

During overclocking the situation changes dramatically. Looks like the FSB frequency increase causes the memory controllers to work differently. It is partially explained by the fact that these two platforms set secondary timings differently during overclocking.

Asus P5E

Asus P5K Premium

That is why the results in complex benchmarks and real applications turn out so diverse.

However, Asus P5E performed quite well here. This Intel X38 based mainboard outpaces the rival on Intel P35 in most tasks.

Power Consumption

We normally do not measure the mainboards power consumption. But we will make an exception for Asus P5E, since not every mainboard out there can boast something like that on the package: “ASUS Exclusive Energy Processing Unit – 58.6% CPU Power Saving”. This promising statement inspired us to measure the power consumption of similar systems (without the monitor) built on Asus P5E mainboard with EPU and Asus P5E Premium without any special technologies. We performed the measurements in idle mode as well as for fully loaded system. Both platforms featured a Core 2 Extreme QX6850 processor working at its default frequency. Enhanced Intel SpeedStep and AMD Cool'n'Quiet power-saving technologies were activated.

As we see, there is no promised economy here whatsoever. Moreover, the new Asus P5E mainboard consumes a little more power than Asus P5K Premium in case of full CPU utilization. However, we shouldn’t forget that Intel X38 chipset itself boasts about 20W higher power consumption than Intel P35. That is why it would be incorrect to say that the processor voltage regulator on Asus P5E is not more economical than that of the opponent. Despite a more power-hungry chipset, Asus P5E performed as well as mainboards on other chipsets in our test session.

Conclusion

All in all, Asus P5E proved a very good product. Being closely related to top Asus product aka Maximus Formula turned out an advantage for P5E. The mainboard inherited a lot of good features from its elder sister. Namely, the smart PCB design and high-quality integrated sound solution. As a result, Asus P5E can be characterized as a relatively inexpensive, high-performance, reliable platform. It also performs well during overclocking. It hits high FSB frequencies without much effort and runs stably with overclocker memory, which allows easy processors overclocking to the maximum of their potential without any problems.

At the same time, you should remember that P5E is still an inexpensive product on Intel X38 chipset. It certainly has its effect on the solution. As a result, some of its features have been significantly limited. For example, the biggest disappointment for most users is the absence of eSATA interface support.

The price tag of Asus P5E also leaves us a little upset. Since Intel X38 is pretty pricy, this mainboard with pretty basic features overall falls into the same high-price category with the top Intel P35 based mainboards. The side by side comparison reveals that the new Asus solution is not as attractive from many standpoints. Its only indisputable advantage is the support of PCI Express 2.0 x16 bus and Crossfire (PCI Express x16 + PCI Express x16) technology. However, these features are not essential at this time.

Therefore, our final verdict about the new Asus P5E mainboard will be pretty reserved. Yes, the board is very nice, but in most cases it would be much more reasonable to got for an Intel P35 based solution priced identically.

Highs:

Lows: