So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
ASUS P5E3 Deluxe WiFi-AP @n Edition
- Draft-n Wireless networking with access point, e-SATA, overclocking features, support for up to 1600MHz FSB speeds and 45nm Penryn CPUs, DDR3 support
- Those with existing DDR2 RAM will need to buy new and still expensive DDR3 RAM
For a comprehensive feature set and a speedy system you can't go wrong with the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe Wi-Fi. It showed good stability in our tests and has room for beginners and enthusiasts to play around.
Price$ 579.00 (AUD)
Based on Intel's high-end X38 chipset, the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe is built to handle the current generation of Intel Core 2 Duo Conroe CPUs, including chips like the QX6850 with a 1333MHz front side bus (FSB), but is primarily aimed at the upcoming 45nm (nanometre) Penryn CPUs being designed on Intel's series-3 chipset (Q35, P35, P31, G35, G33 and G31 among others).
Among the features of the X38 chipset is support for PCIe 2.0, the new generation of PCI Express which allows this board to handle ATI's latest Crossfire configuration using two cards in two PCIe 16x slots.
Unlike the Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6, another X38 motherboard, the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe has put its faster FSB speed (800/1066/1333/1600MHz) to better use by utilising DDR3 RAM, the soon-to-be successor of DDR2 and the only RAM currently capable of running at a bus speed of 1333MHz or higher. DDR3 operates more efficiently and in doing so uses less power. The only downfall of DDR3 at present is its cost and limited availability, but this will change as the demand grows.
The design of the board also means it's not necessary to install equally sized RAM sticks into the DIMMS for dual-channel support, but rather the board will take the total RAM and split it evenly, with any left over memory used in a single channel configuration.
However, the X38 chipset only counts for a small portion of what this board offers. For instance, a comprehensive set of advanced overclocking features, such as voltage controls, CPU, FSB and DRAM adjustments, as well as manual FSB Strap settings (a feature that tweaks the north bridge speed), are included and any stable adjustments the user makes can be saved as an overclocking profile for reuse later.
Built into the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe is a Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/draft-n wireless card with the ability to function as an access point for other devices. Also quite handy under certain circumstances is the ASUS Express Gate feature, which allows you to browse the Web or use Skype within seconds of turning the computer on, rather than waiting for it to boot into the operating system (assuming you can at the time).
We were disappointed to see the BIOS crash during our initial setup, but were subsequently pleased, almost more so, to see that the ASUS CrashFree BIOS feature automatically recovered the original BIOS from an onboard USB stick.
Using an Intel QX6850 3GHz CPU with a 1333MHz FSB, 2GB of Samsung 1066MHz PC3-8500U DDR3 RAM, a Radeon HD2900XT XT with 512MB of GDDR3 memory and a Western Digital 7200rpm 750GB hard drive as our test-bed, we put the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe through WorldBench 6 to get a score of 121. Encoding 53 minutes worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files in iTunes took just 54 seconds and in Cdex it took 89 seconds.
Overclocking the system to 3.6GHz (400x9) increased the score to 131 and remained stable through the whole test. While overclocked, the system encoded MP3s in 49 seconds and 74 seconds, respectively.
The board itself is cooled by a string of unobtrusive copper pipes. However, two small optional fans are included in the sales pack for additional active cooling should you wish to push the board above its normal limits.
At the back of the board you'll find an abundance of connectivity that includes two gigabit Ethernet ports, two e-SATA ports, analogue and digital audio ports, six USB 2.0 ports (with four more available on the PCB itself), a PS/2 keyboard port and a FireWire port. The board also includes three PCIe 16x slots, two to run in PCIe 16x CrossFire mode and one to function in 4x and 1x modes also.
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