Asus P5E3 Deluxe WiFi-AP @n Socket 775 Motherboard Page: 1
Introduction

Asus are one of the largest motherboard manufacturers out there, as well as being one of the most respected. With a long history of making top-end enthusiast-based boards as well as a huge reputation in the OEM business, Asus motherboards have graced many different types of PC's over the years.

After introducting an X38-based motherboard in the Maximus Formula we're now taking a look at another X38 based board, this time with DDR3 support.

The P5E3 Deluxe is an Intel® X38 chipset-based motherboard that combines powerful performance with great energy efficiency; and supports DDR3 1800MHz dual-channel memory architecture and Dual PCI Express 2.0 x16 lanes for extreme graphics performance. It also comes with the world’s first ASUS EPU (Energy Processing Unit), allowing the CPU power supply to be digitally monitored and fine-tuned with improved VRM efficiency in heavy or light loadings – attaining the best possible power efficiency and energy savings to help save the environment.

AI Lifestyle Series motherboards bring lifestyle and personal computing together. They provide you better system performance to enjoy graphic-intensive games and applications. The cutting-edge audio feature dramatically enhances the quality of voice signal. Thoughtful design allows you to set up your system easily. To create a peaceful environment, several new and improved innovations are included to reduce noise and temperature. Don´t change your way of life for a computer. Instead let the ASUS Lifestyle Series improve the quality of your life.

One of the Asus Ai Lifestyle branded motherboards: the P5E3 comes with dual WiFi and a whole host of power saving features. The P5E3 looks to be a feature-stacked board that offers everything for the professional home user in mind.

Asus have followed up the Maximus by putting in the EPU (Energy Processing Unit) to bring digitally efficient savings when delivering the power to the CPU.

Let's take a look at the hard facts, and of course you can take a look at more of the foibles of the board on Asus's website.


Specification

CPU
LGA775 socket for Intel® Core™2 Quad / Core™2 Extreme / Core™2 Duo / Pentium® Extreme / Pentium® D / Pentium® 4 Processors
Compatible with Intel® 05B/05A/06 processors
Supports Intel® next generation 45nm Multi-Core CPU
Chipset
Intel® X38 / ICH9R with Intel® Fast Memory Access Technology
Front Side Bus
1600/1333 / 1066 / 800 MHz
Memory
4 x DIMM, max. 8GB, DDR3 1800(O.C.)/1600(O.C.)/1333/1066/800 MHz, non-ECC, un-buffered memory
Dual channel memory architecture
*Refer to www.asus.com or this user manual for the Memory QVL(Qualified Vendors Lidts).
Expansion Slots
3 x PCIe x16 (blue @PCIe2.0 x16 mode, black @PCIe x4 or x1 mode) supports CrossFire Technology
2 x PCIe x1
2 x PCI
Storage
Southbridge
- 6 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports
- Intel Matrix Storage Technology supports RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10
JMicron® JMB363(JMB368) PATA and SATA controller
- 1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices
- 2 x External SATA 3.0 Gb/s port (SATA On-the-Go)
- Supports SATA RAID 0,1,JBOD
LAN
Dual Gigabit LAN controllers
Marvell88E8056® PCIe Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2
RealtekRTL8110SC® PCI Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2
Audio
ADI® AD1988B 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Support Jack-Sensing, Enumeration, Multi-streaming
- Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
- AI Audio 2
- ASUS Noise Filter
IEEE 1394
Agere® L-FW3227 1394a controller supports 2 x IEEE 1394a ports (one at midboard; one at back panel)
USB
12 x USB 2.0 ports (6 ports at mid-board, 6ports at back panel)
ASUS AI Lifestyle Features
ASUS Power Saving Solution
- ASUS EPU (Energy Processing Unit)
- ASUS 3rd Generation 8-phase Power Design
- ASUS AI Nap
ASUS AI Lifestyle Features:
- ASUS AI Direct Link
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution:
- ASUS Fanless Design: Heat-pipe solution
- ASUS Fanless Design: Stack Cool 2
- ASUS Q-Fan 2
- ASUS Optional Fan for Water-cooling or Passive-Cooling only
ASUS Crystal Sound:
- ASUS Noise Filter
ASUS EZ DIY:
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-Connector
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS AI Slot Detector
Special Features
ASUS MyLogo 3
Multi-language BIOS
Overclocking Features
ASUS AI Booster utility
Precision Tweaker 2:
- vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.00625V increment
- vDIMM: 64-step DRAM voltage control
- vChipset (N.B.): 33-step DRAM voltage control
- vFSB Termination: 15-step reference voltage control
- vCPU PLL: 64-step CPU PLL voltage control
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
- FSB tuning from 200MHz up to 800MHz at 1MHz increment
- Memory tuning from 800MHz up to 3200MHz
- PCI Express frequency tuning from 100MHz up to150MHz at 1MHz increment
Overclocking Protection:
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x S/PDIF Out (Coaxial + Optical)
2 x External SATA
1 x IEEE1394a
2 x RJ45 port
6 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
1 x COM connector
6 x SATA connectors
1 x CPU Fan connector
4 x Chassis Fan connector
1 x Power Fan connector
1 x IEEE1394a connector
Front panel audio connector
1 x S/PDIF Out Header
Chassis Intrusion connector
CD audio in
24-pin ATX Power connector
2 x 4-pin ATX 12V Power connector
System Panel(Q-Connector)
BIOS
16 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
6 x Serial ATA cables
1 x 2-port Serial ATA power cable
ASUS Q-Shield
User's manual
3 in 1 Q-connector
1 x 2-port USB2.0 / 1-port IEEE1394 module
2 x Optional Fan for Water-Cooling or Passive-Cooling only
Support CD
Drivers
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS Update
ASUS AI Suite
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Image-Editing Suite
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.4cm)

Even though the P5E3 isn't a Republic of Gamers Board (RoG), there's a whole load of features to get you slavering in your coffee. Now let's get onto the nitty gritty...


Asus P5E3 Deluxe WiFi-AP @n Socket 775 Motherboard Page: 2

Packaging

Asus seem to keep their Home branded motherboard packaging very professional and the P5E3 is no exception. Whilst this may not stand out on shelves, it's nice to get a good looking box through the door.

box front box rear

The box rear also shows the highly unusual feature that Asus have included with this board: the dual WiFi connection.
 
box open

The box has a panel that opens to show more of the features of the P5E3, telling you all about its power saving capabilities and "EPU" chip. We'll come to that later.
 
box inside

The box is packaged up pretty well but I can't stop thinking Asus have skimped a little compared to some other high end boards such as the Abit IN9 32X Max. Still, you won't have a problem with damage to the board, so it does the job.
 

Package

The package that comes with the P5E3 is pretty enormous. Almost too many to list really, but I will give it a go:

* 6 x SATA cables
* 1 x HDD IDE cable
* 1 x FDD IDE cable
* 2 x WiFi dongles
* 2 x Asus fans designed for active cooling of the mosfet and chipset heatpipe's
* 1 x Molex to SATA Power Converter
* 1 x Asus IR Remote and USB infra-red reciever
* 1 x Backplate IO for USB and Firewire
* Set of Asus 3-in-1 IQ connecters
* Driver CD
* Asus Software Solutions CD
* Quick start guide
* Asus WiFi-AP @n user guide
* Asus Remote user guide

Quite a package of goodies for you there; can't complain about it at all (though rounded IDE's might be good Asus, thanks).

 
bundle

All in all Asus have done a good job making this feel somewhat "special" with a whole load of stuff you don't need may find useful.

Let's take a look at this board and weigh up how it looks.


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Board Layout and Features

Asus have followed the recent trend of having rather large and complicated heatpipe systems cooling just about everything on the board. There is an array of heatpipes and fins, but unlike the RoG Maximus, there is no appearance of Asus's water-blocks.

mobo full motherboard full closer

The colour co-ordinating is easy to make sense of and the black PCB makes a nice first impression. The only thing I could say is that there are a lot of colours on the board and so it's not lent itself so much to a case with a window. The general layout is pretty good with almost everything sitting at the edges of the board. With 90° flipped SATA and IDE connectors, Asus have shown some thought has gone into the design. One thing I would make note of was the fairly large distance across the board that some of the I/O connectors have been placed, meaning a bit of a stretch for some case wiring.

The ring of heatpipes around the CPU area make the P5E3 feel a little crowded. After trying a few of our test heatsinks on the board I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was room for even the huge Scythe Infinity (Mugen).
 
p5e3 cpu area 1 p5e3 heatpipes

p5e3 heatpipies/memory

As an addendum to this, it is going to make replacing all those heatpipe's fairly difficult and possibly expensive if you want to install your own 3rd party cooler on there.
 
memory zone sata/ide area

The memory area is well organised, although it does look a little close to the heatpipe arrangement. As I mentioned before, Asus have given a nice block of 90° SATA ports. It's also good to see that the battery is away from the primary graphics card.
 
p5e3 bottom board cooling

At this point I am going to mention the motherboard cooling again. Asus have once again implemented retention mechanisms for the heatsinks used on the board. This is a good move and should keep everything in place.
 
p5e3 pci slots

Getting onto the PCI and PCI-e slots, Asus have gone with 3 full size PCI-e slots, 2 x PCI slots and 2 x PCI-e x 1 slots. This should be enough for even the most packed system, although some may lament the lack of PCI-e x 1 devices to put in those gaps.
 
IO

Again we see just how everything is squeezed in on this board with the I/O's barely missing the heatsink configuration by millimetres.

As usual, Asus have done a great job laying the board out. Only a couple of minor niggles sit in my mind, although that huge heatsink configuration may be a bigger issue for some.

There's a couple of things I miss as an enthusiast from the RoG Maximus:

* On board power/reset switches
* External CMOS reset
* POST LED readout

Still, this is a "lifestyle" board and as such is not aimed at the same audience.


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WiFi-AP @n AI-Lifestyle Extras

What's this? Another page you say? Well I couldn't review this board without mentioning some of the extra features that the AI-Lifestyle has added to it.

Dual WiFI

For those who make use of the benefits of WiFi, Asus have provided not one but two sets of WiFi antennas with this board.  It's hard to say if this is for an actual use or just for show, but it will please those who use WiFi none-the-less.

WiFi antenna's


Asus Remote

Tying in with the AI-Lifestyle is the Asus remote. This IR remote allows USB wake on and power which is pretty useful. There's also an Asus software suite that allows you to use the remote to control pretty much any program you need to, such as iTunes and WMP. The remote is a natty addition to the normal hardware that comes with motherboards. Some will use it, some won't, but I found it a nice little tool.

asus remote

Power Saving

As I couldn't quite get scientific results from the board as far as power saving was concerned, I left this out of the main body of the review. However, it's definitely worth a mention for those who are very power-conscious. Asus have done a good job implementing their EPU and at points it does afford real energy saving when using the board.

In-built Linux OS - Express Gate

Here's what Asus have to say about the in-built OS:

Surf the Internet in 5-second-boot time without entering Windows With a fast bootup speed of only 5 seconds, the ASUS Express Gate offers an optional Linux OS bootup that allows you to enjoy instant access to commonly used functions like accessing the Internet, VoIP, and Web emailing without entering the OS.

linux boot up menu

And in all honesty they are correct. Right when the motherboard is booting you have the screen above and have a short time period to hit "enter OS". If you manage to get this right, everything boots into the Linux OS super-fast.

internet asus internet - oc3d

The OS gives you the option of web-surfing or using Skype. How useful this is I will leave up to you, but I will say that web-browsing is super-fast and well-featured with what I believe is Mozilla Firefox browser in-built.

All in all you cannot fault the extra little touches that come with this board.


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Input/Output Panel

The I/O panel on the Asus P5E3 is fairly comprehensive as well as modern. Featuring:

* 1 x PS/2 keyboard connector
* 1 x SP/DIF Optical digital audio output
* 1 x SP/DIF Coaxial digital output
* 2 x e-SATA ports
* 1 x Firewire ports
* 6 x USB ports
* 2 x RJ45 LAN Port
* 8 channel analogue sound output
* 2 x WiFi aerials via add-in WiFI-AP @n card

io options

It's a pretty comprehensive set of I/O's and good to see a PS/2 keyboard included in there. The most unusual feature there would be dual aerials for the WiFi cards.

BIOS

The P5E3's BIOS is based around the Phoenix BIOS and as usual, Asus have managed to squeeze more options in there than you can shake a stick at. I personally prefer the layout of the Award BIOS, but the BIOS with the P5E3 is hard to find fault with.
 
asus p5e3 fsb strap
 
 
BIOS AI overclock bios dram fruequency

 p5e3 memory 2

RAM timings
 
 
 The "Extreme Tweaker" part of the BIOS really hits the spot as an enthusiast. With a whole host of overclocking features, Asus have gone a long way to satiating my desire for options! Above are the CPU/FSB and memory options you have in the extensive BIOS.

OptionAvailable Range
CPU Multiplier
x6 upwards
FSB/NB Strap
200/266/333/400mhz
FSB Frequency
200-800mhz (1mhz steps)
DRAM Frequency
533/639/667/709/800/852/887/1066
PCI-E Frequency
100-150mhz (1mhz steps)

Plenty to adjust there then.

BIOS CPU volts BIOS fsb termination volts

BIOS voltage
BIOS South bridge voltage

BIOS NB voltage BIOS cpu features

BIOS CPU damner BIOS CPU ref voltage

BIOS NB reference
 
A shortage of voltage adjustments there is not. Some of these are a little more constrained than on the Maximus RoG board but they still do the trick OK. The only one I'd perhaps like a little more on in the extreme side of tweaking in the Northbridge Voltage. Remember that DDR3 does not need as much voltage as its DDR2 counterpart. Also included is an "overclock over-charging voltage" that means you can pump even more juice into the CPU beyond the available options of the CPU Voltage Ref

OptionAvailable Range
CPU Voltage
1.1v-1.70v (0.00625v steps)
FSB Termination Voltage
1.20v-1.5v (0.02v steps)
Northbridge Voltage
1.25v-1.91v (0.02v steps)
DRAM Voltage
1.50-2.78v (0.02v steps)
Southbridge Voltage
1.050v-1.20vv (0.15v steps)
PLL Voltage
1.05-2.78v (0.02v steps)

All of the controls change from green to orange to red as you go higher and there's even a warning when you put the NB voltage at the highest to get better cooling!

BIOS OC profile


Asus have also given you the option of saving two overclock profiles into the BIOS which is pretty great and saves a lot of time.
 
CPU temp monitoring

The temperature monitoring in the BIOS also allows for Asus' excellent QFan control system.
 
BIOS voltage monitoring

And of course some voltage monitoring is included too.

All in all Asus have provided an incredibly comprehensive BIOS that doesn't fail to impress, especially considering this is a board aimed at "lifestyle" users, rather than gamers or overclockers necessarily.


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Test Setup

As you may or may not be aware, all of Overclock3D's motherboard test setups have been updated with identical hardware to reflect the growing need for quad core computing. We endeavor to get the hardware test setups as close as possible for each review performed.

 Asus Maximus
DFI LANPARY Asus P5E3
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Quad Q6600 "G0" 2.4GHz 2x4MB
MemoryCellshock PC2-6400 DDR2-800 (4-4-4-12)/Kingston HyperX PC3-11000 CL7 DDR3 2gb Kit 7-7-7-20
Graphics Card Sapphire Ultimate X1950 Pro 256mb PCI-E
Hard Disk Hitachi Deskstar 80GB 7K80 SATA2 7200RPM 8mb
CPU Cooling Noctua NH-U12P
Operating System Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (Latest Updates)
Graphics Drivers ATI Catalyst 7.4.44981
Motherboard Drivers Intel INF 8.300.1013

During the testing of the boards above, special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows Vista was also used between switching boards, preventing any possible performance issues due to left-over drivers from the previous motherboard install.

To guarantee a broad range of results, the following benchmark utilities were used:


Synthetic CPU & Memory Subsystem
• Sisoft Sandra XII 2008c
• Lavalys Everest 4.0

File Compression & Encoding
• 7-Zip File Compression
• River Past ViMark

Disk I/O Performance
• HDTach 3.0.4.0
• Sisoft Sandra XII 2008c

3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• Cinebench 10
• 3DMark05
• 3DMark06

3D Games
• Quake 4
• Bioshock
• F.E.A.R


Overclocking

Overclocking was performed through the BIOS as all good overclocks should be. With all three boards having a huge amount of options and the Maximus and the DFI having reputations for being excellent overclockers, the P5E3 could be up against it in this part of our testing.

max overclock

The P5E3 managed to top the other boards by a small margin here, although it took an effort to squeeze that little bit extra from the Q6600 without better NorthBridge and chipset cooling. The P5E3 at 3690MHz just out-performs the other two boards here.

max fsb overclocking

After the slightly higher result in general overclocking I was expecting at least as high FSB from the P5E3 as the other two boards. Here the P5E3 shows its slight disadvantage over the other two boards with a few voltage options needing to be slightly higher to get the best FSB.

In general, the P5E3 is a good solid overclocker and should get the best out of your chip.

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sisoft sandra

SiSoft Sandra is a synthetic benchmark utility capable of reporting and benchmarking a wide range of system components. All benchmarks were run three times to ensure reliability and consistency.

sisoft cpu arithmatic dhrystone

sisoft cpu arithmatic whetstone

sisoft cpu multimedia int

sisoft multimedia float

sisoft memory bandwidth int

sisoft memory bandwidth floats

sisoft memory latencysmall

As you can see with the SiSoft Sandra results above, the P5E3 gains some performance by having DDR3, especially in the bandwidth and latency tests, despite actually having higher latency timings.


lavalys everest

Everest is in many ways similar to Sisoft Sandra. Focusing mainly on Software and Hardware information reporting, Everest also comes with a benchmark utility suitable for testing the read, write and latency performance of the memory subsystem.

lavalys everest memory read

lavalys everest memory write

lavalys everest memory latencys

Again the P5E3 shows its speed in the Lavalys Everest memory bandwidth tests.


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ViMark

ViMark is the latest addition to the OC3D motherboard testing process and a relatively new benchmarking application in general. Designed to take the inaccuracies and guesswork out of measuring the time taken to encode video files, ViMark produces easily comparable and consistent results for encoding Windows Media, Quicktime, AVI and GIF files.

vimark - windows media

vimark - apple quicktime

vimark - AVIsmall

vimark - gifsmall

ViMark shows that the P5E3 is round about in the middle of both previously tested boards, not much of a difference between them all here.


7-Zip

7-Zip is an open source winzip-style file compression utility that has the ability to compress and decompress many file formats including it's own .7z compression scheme. 7-Zip also comes complete with its own benchmarking utility for gauging the compression and decompression speed of the system that it is installed on.

7-zip compression

7-zip - decompression

7-Zip shows a decent performance increase on the P5E3, again perhaps due to the DDR3 used on this board.

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HD Tach

HDTach is a free hard disk benchmarking program from Simpli Software. This benchmark is not only capable of producing results on hard disk access times but also CPU usage required during disk access.

HD Tach burst speed

d tach avr read

hd tach random accesss

hd tach cpu utilisation

Just going on the HD Tach results, we see that the I/O performance on the P5E3 seems faster than on the other two high-end boards.


SiSoft Sandra IO

SiSoft Sandra is a synthetic benchmark utility capable of reporting and benchmarking a wide range of system components. For all of the motherboards we run the Disk Read & Access benchmarks three times to ensure accuracy of results.

sisoft sandra disc read index

(sisoft disk read access

The disc read index is higher on the P5E3, mimicking the results from HD Tach. Disc read access times were very slightly higher compared to the other two boards, but not by a huge margin.

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cinebench

Cinebench 10 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.

cinebench cpu rendering 1x cpu

cinebench cpu rendering multi cpu

cinebench opengl

Cinebench results show that the P5E3 is a little slower than the other two boards during rendering tasks.

3dmark05 3dmark06

3DMark is a popular synthetic gaming benchmark used by many gamers and overclockers to gauge the performance of their PC's. All 3DMark runs were performed 3 times with averages being calculated from each of the results.

3dmark05

3dmark06

3DMarks results show a surprising increase from the P5E3. I can only concede that the extra bandwidth and performance from DDR3 really helps with the scores here.



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quake 4

Quake 4 is a game built on the Doom 3 engine. Benchmarking was performed using Quake4Bench and a custom timedemo recording along with 0xAA, 0xAF settings at a resolution of 1024x768.

quake 4 results

Quake 4 shows that the P5E3 is up with its top-end colleagues.


F.E.A.R.

F.E.A.R. is a game based on the Lithtech Jupiter EX engine. It has volumetric lighting, soft shadows, parallax mapping and particle effects. Included in the game is a benchmark facility that taxes the entire PC system. This benchmark was run 3 times to ensure uniformity of results.

FEAR results

Again the gaming results are similar for all three boards with F.E.A.R.


Bioshock

Bioshock is a recent FPS shooter by 2K games. Based on the UT3 engine it has a large amount of advanced DirectX techniques including excellent water rendering and superb lighting and smoke techniques. All results were recorded using F.R.A.P.S with several identical runs through the same area of the game.

bioshock

Being a manually run benchmark, Bioshock is more likely to get slight variances in FPS. The P5E3 is again around about as fast as all boards tested.

The 3D rendering and gaming tests are a very mixed bunch. 3Dmark showed a very nice increase in performance with the P5E3's DDR3, but the gaming and rendering aren't quite the marked improvement you would expect across the board. I don't think you'd be disappointed with any of these three boards, although 3D benchers might want that large 3DMark score increase.

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Conclusion

Asus have once again produced an excellent motherboard in their P5E3 Deluxe WiFi-AP @n. It's feature-packed and with DDR3 onboard, gives some great performance.

The addition of wireless on the P5E3 will undoubtedly be very helpful for those who will utilise it, however, I can't help thinking that extra £20+ puts the board on the wrong side of £200. If you're going to buy a wireless card it's not a waste of money really. Let's also not forget that Asus have included a wireless remote which comes in very very handy, as I have had experience with one of the very first Asus Core2Duo compatible boards, the P5W DH Deluxe.

Performance in general on the P5E3 is very good, with the addition of DDR3 producing some blazing results in memory and I/O testing. The only drawback with this at the moment is that DDR3 costs an absolute fortune, which is a little unfortunate. This makes it very hard to recommend the P5E3 over the Maximus.

When we consider that overclocking performance is about on-par or at points slightly below the Maximus, again it gives me a few reasons not to say "go and buy it". At £205 at Komplett, that's a good £25 more expensive than the Asus Maximus.

Komplett recommended

Overall then the P5E3 WiFI-AP @n is a great board with a bundle of features, excellent layout and nice performance. It's basically hindered by its price and the price of DDR3.

I can recommend the P5E3 for those who have deep pockets and who want those extra little touches mentioned. As such it gets an Overclock3D "Recommended Award".

Recommended Award

The Good

+ Great layout
+ Good performance
+ Nice little "touches"
+ Excellent Bundle
+ Good looks

The Mediocre

* Average overclocking

The Bad

- Expensive
- Current cost of DDR3

Thanks to Asus for the review sample

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