An eco-friendly motherboard
A new chipset isn't the only thing to look forward to with this ASUS motherboard: it also employs technology that allows you to save power and even get on the Internet with your newly built PC without loading Windows! It uses Splashtop to do this. While it's not something that's new to ASUS motherboards (it can also be found on the P5E3 Premium, for example) we think it complements the overall theme of low power consumption nicely.
- Energy conservation software utility, plenty of connectivity, Splashtop interface, stable performance
- We couldn't get music to play using Splashtop, one SATA port will be unusable if a long graphics card is installed
This board is a great option for existing Intel users wishing to upgrade, as it still uses DDR2 and it can handle all the latest CPUs. Its value-added features — Splashtop and an energy conservation utility — are also good reasons to choose this model.
Price$ 249.00 (AUD)
To use Splashtop (ASUS calls it Express Gate in its implementation), you don't even need to have any disk drives attached to your system. When booting the PC, you are presented with a screen that lets you boot into one of Express Gate's functions or your operating system. Express Gate allow you to get online with a minimum of fuss: you can surf the Web, use Skype or even a chat client. Furthermore, you can listen to music and view photos (we couldn't get music to work during our evaluation).
Express Gate is useful if you don't want to boot up your PC all the way to Windows just to surf the Web — you'll save time and power by using it. Although we noticed rendering problems with some Web sites, it had no problems with Youtube, Flickr and other popular sites.
Physically, the PQ5 Deluxe is ATX-sized. It has a vast assortment of ports and slots, and it's well-suited as an upgrade for an Intel-based PC. Even though it uses the latest Intel P45 chipset, it still relies on DDR2 RAM. This isn't a bad thing at all, especially if you're upgrading from an existing DDR2-based system. The P45 gives the PQ5 support for all of Intel's latest LGA775-based CPUs, such as the 45nm-based Core 2 Duo Extreme Processor QX9770 . With a 1600MHz front side bus, there is plenty of scope for overclocking, too. We used an Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 for our tests and had no troubles at all.
Using our Worldbench 6 test suite, the QX6850, along with 2GB of DDR2 800MHz RAM, a 750GB Seagate Barracuda ES hard drive and an ATI Radeon HD 2600Pro graphics card, the motherboard attained a result of 114. This is an identical result to the Intel P35 chipset-based Gigabyte GA-EP35C-DS3R, which indicates that the P45 is as reliable, but not faster than its stable-mate. The P45 chipset differentiates itself by offering support for PCI Express 2.0 (there are two PCI Express x16 slots on this board, which can be used for CrossFire configurations) and its southbridge component heralds the debut of ICH10.
ICH10 is the latest version of Intel's controller hub (which controls most of the interface ports on the board) and you won't even find this on high-end Intel boards. Boards based on the X48 chipset, for example, still use ICH9. There doesn't appear to be much difference between ICH9 and ASUS's implementation of ICH10 on this board. Of course, there is a plethora of USB 2.0 ports (10 of them) and you also get six SATA ports (two more are added via a Silicon Image controller chip). Legacy ports haven't been completely eradicated: there is one PS/2 port and an IDE port is also present, although this is controlled by a Marvell chip. There are two Gigabit Ethernet ports, although both of these are controlled by Marvell chips and one is PCI-based while the other is PCI Express-based.
There's a lot to this board, which is aimed at the mainstream market. ASUS touts its friendliness towards the environment. This is by way of a software interface that can cut down on the amount of power the motherboard uses. It does this by controlling the CPU and chipset (and the graphics card, if you are using a supported model). The software is called Six Engine Power Saving and it has five customisable modes for conserving power: Auto, Turbo, High, Medium and Maximum Savings.
Using our aforementioned configuration, the difference in power consumption between the Turbo setting (185W) and the High setting (182W) was about 1.5 per cent; the difference between High and Medium (165W) was approximately 10 per cent. Between Medium and Maximum Saving (122W) mode, our PC consumed 35 per cent less electricity. These figures were recorded from the wall outlet during a full CPU load and they take into account the hard drive, optical drive and graphics card, as well as the motherboard, CPU and RAM.
Of course, the performance of the system will be greatly affected if you employ these power saving profiles. Rendering a 3-D scene in Blender 3D, which puts a full load on the CPU, took 30sec in Turbo mode, 32sec in High mode, 34sec in Medium mode and 53sec in Maximum Saving mode. However, if you won't be using your PC for anything taxing (such as gaming) then you can easily change profiles to conserve some energy — you don't have to run the system at full speed all the time. This is the great thing about this utility and this motherboard as a whole.
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