Asus P5B-E Plus socket 775 Motherboard p965 Page: 1 Introduction
Asus have a long and excellent history of making some of the best motherboards that money can buy. In recent years they've even managed to step it up a notch and produce some awesome enthusiast boards.
We take a look at the baby brother of the Asus P5B Deluxe: the Asus P5B-E Plus. Will this board live up to the reputation already gained by it's elder sibling as one of the best overclocking 775 boards? Let's see...
Packaging isn't as necessary in the generally online world of computer components, but it can make an eye-catching difference in retail shelves. The Asus P5B-E Plus has been given a typical look by Asus, who have generally avoided the typical strange characters or themed boxes of other manufacturers in preference for a box that looks neat, tidy and professional.
As you can see - the top of the box took a bit of a battering on it's way to me, so did the packaging inside the box absorb the blows?
There was indeed no damage to the components inside, but the first impression I got was, (I have to say), "ghetto". I don't think I've seen a simple layer of corrugated cardboard to protect an enthusiast motherboard before but there's a first time for everything.
While the box looks nice, the packaging innards and protection leave quite a lot to be desired.
Moving swiftly on to the package that Asus supply with the board we can see a nice range of connecters to get you going with it.
Here we have:
* 1 x IO backplate * 1 x IDE Ribbon cable * 1 x Floppy ribbon cable * 2 x Molex > SATA power cables * 3 x SATA cables * 1 x IEE1394 Firewire internal > external (1 port) PCI backplate connecter * 1 x USB internal > external (2 port)PCI backplate connecter * Asus "EZ connecters" (USB, firewire and front panel IO) * Asus Driver/Utilities Install CD * Asus P5B-E plus User Guide
That's not a bad collection of stuff to get going with. The only thing I noticed was lacking was SATA cables to fill all SATA ports on the motherboad, but as this is not a high-end board this can be forgiven.
A quick work about the Asus "EZ connecters". These are excellent for getting your internals wired right and for people who rebuild their PC's a lot. As a detachable extension to a couple of your internal port connections, you can wire this first then attach to the motherboard. Certainly saves a lot of faffing about in what is usually a dimly lit area on the motherboard inside a case. Seeing as case manufacturers don't seem to want to do it, I'm glad to see Asus stepping up and making our lives easier.
Let's take a look at the board itself
Asus P5B-E Plus socket 775 Motherboard p965 Page: 2 The board itself
Asus has made another board with a black PCB. This is good to see as black PCB's look great in a case with a side window. The colours on the board look good in general and you can clearly differentiate the various ports and parts from one another. We notice that the board doesn't have any heatpipe system like the P5B Deluxe, but it is also fanless which is good to see. Bear in mind though, that you may have to direct a case fan the way of the North Bridge when overclocking.
It's good to see that Asus have chosen to use high-quality conductive polymer capacitors on the board throughout, giving us a hint that overclocking may prove to be pretty nice. The general layout of the board is pretty nice and most niggles seem to be missing. There were a couple of issues that I noticed. One was that the battery is right below the PCI-E slot so if you have a major overclock failure or have to reset CMOS the hard way then it's tough to get to it (though it can be done if you have a small PCI-E graphics card). I did notice something a bit more major in that the CPU area seems a bit high on capacitors. I just managed to squeeze the Scythe Infinity that I have for testing onto the board, but others with more difficult-to-fit coolers may experience problems.
As you see in the first picture, the caps are pretty close in. 8 PIN power for the EATX12v connector is used, although by blocking off one half of it Asus make it clear you can use a 4PIN connector in there too. At this point I'll point out that the board uses 4 phase power, which should keep from too much fluctuation during overclocking.
With this being a single-GPU P965 based board Asus have managed to implement 1 x PCI-e x16 slot 3 x PCI slots, 1 x PCI-e x4 slot and a PCI-e x1 slot. This gives you plenty of IO options, although another normal PCI slot may have been appreciated by those of us who see the utter lack of PCI-e x4 and below cards out there. The extra JMicron SATA port can be seen here and it seems to be in a better place than on most boards towards the top edge of the board.
Another 6 SATA ports gives you a total of 7 to play with: not bad for a board in this price range. The main IDE port is turned on it's side to face out, great for wiring. We also see top-right the closeness of the PCI-e x16 lane and the CMOS battery.
The RAM sits far enough away from the CPU area to be able to have any height module installed in there. Notice the 24PIN power and FDD connector sitting at the edge of the board...more cable routing good news.
Overall I'm pretty happy that the board is well laid out, with just the couple of minor niggles mentioned. Asus have done a nice job with the layout and have avoided a lot of the usual pitfalls that some motherboard makers have suffered from.
Asus P5B-E Plus socket 775 Motherboard p965 Page: 3 I/O Options
There's quite a bit on the back panel of the P5B-E Plus, which is a great sign for those with PS2 keyboards and mice and conversely e-SATA for those who want some great external IO options.
As you can see we have a decent list of connectors:
* 1 x PS/2 Mouse Port * 1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port * 1 x Digital Coax Out * 1 x Digital Optical Out * 1 x Firewire * 1 x e-SATA * 5.1 Sound Panel * 4 x USB 2.0 connectors * 1 x LAN * 1 x Serial Port
There could have been an extra LAN port perhaps and maybe a USB port or two, but in all honesty this board isn't a high end board so I can forgive Asus those little misses.
Intel® Quad-core CPU Ready LGA775 socket for Intel® CoreTM2 Extreme / CoreTM2 Duo / Pentium® Extreme / Pentium® D / Pentium® 4 / Celeron® D Processors Compatible with Intel® 05B/05A/06 processors Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology ready * Refer to www.asus.com for Intel CPU support list * Please update the latest BIOS to support Intel Quad-core CPU Chipset
Intel® P965 / ICH8R with Intel® Fast Memory Access Technology Front Side Bus
1066 / 800 / 533 MHz Memory
4 x DIMM, max. 8GB, DDR2 800 / 667 / 533 MHz, non-ECC, un-buffered memory Dual channel memory architecture * Refer to www.asus.com or user manual for Memory QVL (Qualify Vendor List) Expansion Slots
1 x PCI-E x16 1 x PCI-E x4 1 x PCI-E x1 3 x PCI 2.2 Storage
Southbridge - 6 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports - Intel Matrix Storage Technology supports RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10. JMicron® JMB363 PATA and SATA controller - 1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices - 1 x Internal SATA 3.0 Gb/s port - 1 x External SATA 3.0 Gb/s port (SATA On-the-Go) - Support SATA RAID 0, 1 and JBOD (by 1x External SATA & 1x Internal SATA) LAN
Marvell® PCI-E Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET 2 Audio
ADI® AD1988A 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC - Support Jack-Sensing, Enumeration, Multi-streaming and Jack-Retasking - Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O - ASUS Noise Filter IEEE 1394
TI® 1394a controller supports 2 x IEEE 1394a ports (one at mid-board; one at back panel) USB
10 x USB 2.0 ports (6 ports at mid-board, 4 ports at back panel) ASUS AI Lifestyle Features
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution: - ASUS AI Gear - ASUS AI Nap - ASUS Fanless Design: Stack Cool 2 - ASUS Q-Fan 2 ASUS Crystal Sound: - ASUS Noise Filter ASUS EZ DIY: - ASUS Q-Connector - ASUS O.C. Profile - ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3 - ASUS EZ Flash 2 - ASUS Power LED Other ASUS Special Features
ASUS MyLogo 2 Multi-language BIOS Overclocking Features
Intelligent overclocking tools: - AI NOSTM (Non-delay Overclocking System) - AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner) - ASUS PEG Link - Automatically performance tuning for graphics card - ASUS AI Booster utility Precision Tweaker: - vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 6.25mV increment - vDIMM: 13-step DRAM voltage control - vChipset: 4-step Chipset voltage control SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection) - FSB tuning from 100MHz up to 650MHz at 1MHz increment - Memory tuning from 533MHz up to 1066MHz - PCI Express frequency tuning from 100MHz up to 150MHz at 1MHz increment Overclocking Protection: - ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall) Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard 1 x PS/2 Mouse 1 x Serial port 1 x S/PDIF Out (Coaxial + Optical) 1 x External SATA 1 x IEEE1394a 1 x RJ45 port 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 8-Channel Audio I/O Internal I/O Connectors
3 x USB connectors support additional 6 USB ports 1 x Floppy disk drive connector 1 x IDE connector 7 x SATA connectors 1 x CPU Fan connector 3 x Chassis Fan connector 1 x Power Fan connector 1 x IEEE1394a connector Front panel audio connector 1 x Azalia Digital Header 1 x S/PDIF Out Header Chassis Intrusion connector CD audio in 24-pin ATX Power connector 2x 4-pin EATX 12V Power connector System Panel BIOS
8 Mb Flash ROM, AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3 Manageability
WfM 2.0, DMI 2.0, WOL by PME, WOR by PME, PXE Accessories
UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable FDD cable SATA cables SATA power cables I/O Shield User's manual USB2.0 port module 3 in 1 Q-connector IEEE1394 port module Support CD
Drivers ASUS PC Probe II ASUS Update ASUS AI Suite Anti-virus software (OEM version) Form Factor
ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.4cm)
The BIOS on the Asus is the American Megatrends BIOS commonly used in a lot of Asus motherboards.
I don't find this BIOS as easy to get around as a lot of BIOS, but it certainly has a plethora of options and once you're used to where things are you can get around it nicely.
The "Advanced" part of the BIOS enables you to see some of the overclocking options. Just this front page shows how many options you have at your fingertips with adjustments for a plethora of voltage adjustments. Here's a couple:
With CPU volts adjustable from 1.3v to 1.7v (in 0.0125 increments), DDR voltage from 1.8v to 2.45v, NorthBridge volts going from 1.25v to 1.65v and FSB from 1.2v to 1.45v there's a whole load of voltage regulation you can use. Add to that a good range of ICH and SouthBridge voltage adjustment and I'm pretty impressed at the range that the board lets you adjust.
Moving on to FSB adjustment the P5B-E plus lets you hike it from stock all the way up to a rather ambitious 650 FSB. Memory can be divided as necessary into 4 sections (and it auto-previews what effect the divider will have on the final RAM speed when adjusted with the FSB). Also present is a function for adjusting the CPU multiplier, as well as some quite extensive RAM tweaking.
The RAM menu has more timings than I think is absolutely necessary and I haven't had time to really delve into how each of the other settings will effect the overclock, but having them there is a good thing.
There's a couple of trick little features Asus piles into the BIOS like Asus OC profile and EZ update but these are pretty trivial and the BIOS in general is pretty solid.
All in all the IO options are pretty great for a board in this price bracket and the BIOS has a load of features and tweaks that will be appreciated by those enthusiasts saving a little cash from the high-end, but still wanting a full-featured board.
Asus P5B-E Plus socket 775 Motherboard p965 Page: 4 The following test setup was as following:
Core2Duo E6700 ES Asus P5B-E Plus Mushkin HP2 6400 (4-4-4-10) Sapphire X1600Pro Hitachia Deskstar 7K160 SATA HDD Sony DVD-Rom/CD-RW Silverstone 560w ZEUS PSU Antec P180B
To test the motherboard I first ran it at stock using as stress test comprising of Orthos (dual Prime95), Folding @ Home running on both cores (set to idle priority) and RTHDRIBL running 1/2 screen. I let this run for 12hours to see how the board would fare
The benches and tests used on the motherboard were:
For the Stability test I ran Orthos which is a dual Prime95 stress test, alongside dual Folding @ Home instances of the console client. To spice this up and really test the board I ran RTHDRIBL alongside this. This is a real test of the boards stability at stock and will show just how well it runs out of the box.
Post BIOS flash.
The Asus P5B-E Plus had a little problems with instability (cold boot) on the BIOS that it came with. After a quick flash and a few days checking it was all fixed so I ran the stability test. After the BIOS flash the P5B-E Plus managed to handle everything I threw at it over and above the call of duty, so it goes to show a little BIOS flash can do you good.
Mixed results in the stability testing..let's move onto some numbers.
Super PI 1 million and 32 million
Super PI is 100% the only choice for a quick bench of your top-end rig. It gives a quick and easy estimate of the relative speed of your CPU. The C2D's are now infamous for the their very fast PI times. The Asus is up against some stiff competition let's see how it goes.
The Super PI time is a little short on the all of the other boards apart from the Intel review sample board that we reviewed when Core2Duo was first out. This is a little surprising as the Abit boards do well here.
Super PI 32million
A longer run of the Super PI benchmark shows stability and speed in a quick convenient test.
Once again the time for the 32million run is slightly lower than the other boards.
Sisoft Sandra is a synthetic benchmark utility capable of reporting and benchmarking a wide range of system components. We ran the Processor and Memory suite to get some figures.
Processor Arithmetic tests the raw power of the CPU and the processor multemedia tests the CPU in general multimedia tasks. There can be a slight difference shown between boards speedwise. Will the Asus be that little bit slower here?
The Asus keeps up with the other boards in the Arithmatic score and then steps ahead in the Multimedia score. It seems there's more to this board than meets the eye.
Core architecture has made the Intel platform perform much better than previous generations. SiSoft was always a benchmark that AMD dominated until Core came out. After some already strangely random results it will be interesting to see what happens here.
Here we see that the memory latency is pretty high compared to the other 775 boards and the bandwidth also a bit lower than other boards.
3DMark05 is a benchmark that relies heavily upon DX 8 and DX 9 shader paths. 3DMark05 is very useful benchmark to give us numbers to compare systems. It does give a decent indicator of gaming performance, and includes a couple of CPU benchmarks.
The P5B-E Plus seems to thrive in situations where PCI-e bandwidth is needed for gaming performance at higher resolutions, but suffers when the CPU needs bandwidth. Pretty strange results.
Counter Strike: Source - 1024 x 768
Counter Strike: Source is a hugely popular online FPS game based on the Source engine by Valve. This will show what a typical gamer will play on their PC and is a great indication of real-world gaming performance as the engine is so scalable.
The Asus board does very well in a gaming situation again.
Counter Strike: Source - 1280 x 1024
I tested in a higher res for those who like more detail.
Slightly lower on the minimum FPS, the Asus keeps up a more healthy average whilst gaming.
I was a little dubious that the motherboard could have such a boost in just gaming situations but after extensive testing to make sure it seems that those valuable few FPS are gained by the board over the others tested.
Cinebench is a benchmarking tool based on the powerful 3D software Cinema 4D. Consequently, the results of tests conducted using Cinebench carry significant weight when analysing a computer’s performance in everyday use. Let's see if the Asus does well in some synthetic rendering situations.
The asus board does very well in this test, outshining all of the boards in the single cored test situation.
Holding it's own in the hardware OpenGL benchmark, the P5B-E plus then goes to beat out all of the other boards when using software.
HDTach is a free hard disk benchmarking program from SimpliSoftware. This benchmark is not only capable of producing results on hard disk access times but also CPU usage required during disk access. It simply tests the hard drives in a nice quick and easy test.
The Asus falls down by a new MBp/s on the burst test, but keeps the low 1% CPU usage that we have seen on the other boards.
Overclocking was performed through the BIOS, as all good 24/7 overclocking should be done. The P5B-E has excellent overclocking options in a very good solid BIOS so I was expecting good things!
Low Voltage Overclocking
I set an upper limit of 1.325v for the CPU and clocked the CPU as high as I could whilst maintaining a 3 hour Orthos (dual prime95) stable overclock.
3400MHz is pretty nice for a low-volts OC and matches the Abit AW9D max.
Overclocking - Highest Possible Stable on Air
For this test I stopped when I got concerned that the temperature rose too high. This overclock was performed on air using a Scythe Infinity. I stopped when the CPU started getting around 65-70°C. For this overclock I had to use 1.65v which is not always to be recommended for those who are faint of heart!
Again a nice overclock from the Asus board at high volts. I feel I could have gone higher but for the cooler. Funnily enough the highest I could get the board stable on air turned out to be the highest I could get the board into windows at all.
Once again the P5B-E plus displayed some strange results when overclocking. The highest FSB I achieved with the board was stable in a windows environment, but the board would not boot 1Mhz over 500FSB.
So there you go, some great overclocking results to be had from the Asus P5B-E plus.
Asus have done very well with the P5B-E Plus in delivering a board that's excellent quality and great value. Beside the packaging the board can easily be mistaken for a more expensive board and has some of the performance to match.
With some great results in our gaming and graphical-related bench tests it looks like the Asus P5B-E Plus is the board to get if you're into higher-res gaming.
The board overclocks like stink. I have almost no doubt that some tweaking has gone on to loosen the timings somewhere and gain some extra MHz in the overclocking stakes. This shows where the board suffers in the bandwidth and hard disk benchmarks, but thrives when overclocked. Couple this with a decent bundle for the price and some nifty features, the board is a winner.
Priced at £106 @ SpecialTech I would definitely recommend this board to those wanting an entry into socket 775 Core2Duo.
The Asus P5B-E Plus gets a "Recommended Award", along with "Value for Money" Award.
Pro's + Great Overclockability + Nice Gaming Performance + Great value
Con's - Poorly Packaged - Slower in some benchmarks