Asus P5K P35 Socket 775 Motherboard Page: 1
Introduction

Only back at the beginning of May we were given information that Intel had pushed forward the release date of their latest chipset. Codenamed 'Bearlake', the P35 chipset is the first of Intel's chipsets to support the recently released DDR3 spec (while still maintaining support for DDR2) and upcoming 45nm CPU's along with the ICH9 southbridge and a native 1333Mhz front-side bus. Asus have always been pretty quick to the market with motherboards based on Intel's latest chipsets, and it's no surprise to see the rather prompt arrival of their P5K and P5K3 Bearlake-Based contenders.

With the P5K still being based around the DDR2 platform (where as the P5K3 is DDR3 ready), users are offered the chance to upgrade to the latest 45nm processors while still utilising their "old" DDR2 memory. In fact, in its current state, DDR3 actually offers very little performance benefits over DDR2 due to it's extremely loose latencies. Much the same phenomenom was seen when DDR2 entered the market, with the original DDR modules outperforming DDR2 in most benchmarks.

Asus do have a bit of an issue on their hands however: The P5B and 'Commando' P965 based boards are well known for being champion overclockers and the motherboard of choice for many benchmarkers and enthusiasts. Will the P5K be able to continue the legacy of its elder brother? Today I'll be finding out by pitting them head-to-head.


Specifications

With the Bearlake P35 chipset being such a new arrival to the scene, let's first take a look at how it's features compare to some of its predecessors:

  P35 Chipset
P965 Chipset
975X Chipset
Supported CPU's
Pentium 4
Pentium D
Core 2 Duo
Core 2 Quad
Core 2 Extreme
*Upcoming 45nm CPU's*
Pentium 4
Pentium D
Core 2 Duo
Core 2 Quad
Core 2 Extreme
Pentium 4
Pentium D
Core 2 Duo
Core 2 Quad
Core 2 Extreme
Official FSB Speed
Up to 1333mhz
Up to 1066mhz
Up to 1066mhz
PCI-E/GPU Support
16x / 4x
16x / 4x 8x / 8x
Memory Support
DDR2 & DDR3
DDR2
DDR2
SATA Drive Support
6
4
4
IDE Drive Support
0 (3rd party controller often used)
0 (3rd party controller often used) 1

As we've already discussed, the P35 builds on the features of the P965 chipset by adding DDR3 support, 45nm CPU compatibility and an increased "official" FSB speed. In terms of motherboard features, the following chart has been extracted from Asus' website:

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
Support Intel® next generation 45nm multi-core CPU
*This motherboard supports FSB 1333/1066/800
Chipset
Intel® P35 / ICH9R with Intel® Fast Memory Access Technology
Front Side Bus
1333 / 1066 / 800 MHz
Memory
4 x DIMM, max. 8GB, DDR2 1066*/800 / 667 MHz, non-ECC, un-buffered memory
Dual channel memory architecture
* The chipset officially supports the memory frequency up to DDR2 800MHz. Tuned by ASUS Super Memspeed Technology, this motherboard natively supports up to DDR2 1066MHz
Please refer to www.asus.com or user manual for Memory QVL.
Expansion Slots
2 x PCI-E x16 (blue @ x16 mode, black @ x4 or x1 mode) supports CrossFire Technology
2 x PCI-E x1
3 x PCI
Storage
Southbridge
- 6 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports
- Supports RAID 0 and 1
JMicron® JMB363 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 and JBOD
LAN
Dual Gigabit LAN controllers, featuring AI NET2
Marvell88E8056® PCI-E Gigabit LAN controllers
RealtekRTL8110SC® PCI Gigabit LAN controller
Wireless LAN
ASUS WiFi-AP Solo
54 Mbps IEEE 802.11g and backwards compatible with 11 Mbps IEEE 802.11b
- Software Access Point mode
- Station mode : Infrastruceure mode and Ad-Hoc mode
Audio
ADI® AD1988B 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
- ASUS Noise Filter
IEEE 1394
Agere® FW322 1394a controller supports 2 x IEEE 1394a ports (one at midboard; one at back panel)
USB
10 x USB 2.0 ports (4 ports at mid-board, 6ports at back panel)
ASUS AI Lifestyle Features
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution:
- ASUS AI Gear2
- ASUS AI Nap
- ASUS 8-Phase Power Design
- ASUS Fanless Design: Heat-pipe solution
- 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 AI Slot Detector
ASUS WiFi@Home:
- ASUS WiFi-AP Solo
Other Features
ASUS MyLogo 3
Multi-language BIOS
Overclocking Features
Intelligent overclocking tools:
- AI NOS™ (Non-delay Overclocking System)
- ASUS AI Booster utility
Precision Tweaker:
- vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.0125V increment
- vDIMM: 16-step DRAM voltage control
- vChipset: 4-step Chipset voltage control
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
- FSB tuning from 200MHz up to 800MHz at 1MHz increment
- Memory tuning from 667MHz up to 1333MHz for DDR2
- 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
1 x WiFi-AP Solo antenna jack
8-channel Audio I/O
Internal I/O Connectors
2 x USB connectors support additional 4 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
4 x Serial ATA cables
1 x 2-port Serial ATA power cable
I/O Shield
User's manual
ASUS WiFi-AP Solo manual
3 in 1 Q-connector
1 x 2-port USB2.0 / 1-port IEEE1394 module
ASUS WiFi-AP Solo omni-directional antenna
Support CD
Drivers
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS Update
ASUS AI Suite
ASUS WiFi-AP Solo Wizard
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Image-Editing Suite
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.4cm)

The P5K Deluxe comes with all the features we've come to expect from Asus' Deluxe line of motherboards. As with the previous P5B line, the P5K uses JMicron's JMB363 controller to make up for the lack of PATA functionality on the southbridge and the use of 8-Phase power along with a black PCB is still one of the defining features between the Deluxe and standard models.

Asus P5K P35 Socket 775 Motherboard Page: 2
Packaging & Contents

Having seen and owned several Asus motherboards in the past, it would be fair to say that Asus have never really gone for the whole CGI Character or 'Gaming' style of packaging. Instead, things have always been kept simple with a rather professional looking black box and well organised information snippets.

Asus P5K Deluxe Box Asus P5K Deluxe Box

Not much has really changed with the P5K either. Using the standard black packaging along with the semi-transparent AI logo that signifies that the P5K Deluxe is part of Asus' "Lifestyle" range, the front of the box is uncomplicated and maintains the professional look its predecessors.

For those of us who crave information, a flap on the front of the box can be lifted to reveal details of the "Asus Super Memspeed" technology along with with some small thumbnails showing what accessories are included in the box.

Asus P5K Deluxe Box Asus P5K Deluxe Box

Further information is also provided around the back of the box, with a specification table similar to the one provided back on page 1, and a small thumbnail of the P5K motherboard with the Asus omni-directional antenna attached.

Asus P5K Deluxe Contents Asusk P5K Deluxe Package

Asus P5K Deluxe Cables Asus P5K Deluxe Manuals

Included in the box is the usual manuals and driver CD's along with the required motherbord I/O shield and a collection of SATA/IDE cables. A fairly uninspiring spread it has to be said, but enough to get you up and running with a new PC build. A full list of what's in the box can be seen below:

• UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
• FDD cable
• 4 x Serial ATA cables
• 1 x 2-port Serial ATA power cable
• I/O Shield
• User's manual
• ASUS WiFi-AP Solo manual
• 3 in 1 Q-connector
• 1 x 2-port USB2.0 / 1-port IEEE1394 module
• ASUS WiFi-AP Solo omni-directional antenna
• Support CD

Asus P5K Deluxe Q-Connector

One thing unique to Asus motherboards is the "3-in-1 Q-Connector". These three small blocks are quite simply a godsend for the enthusiast who regulary disconnects their motherboard and is then faced with the frustration of trying to place the power/reset/activity LED connectors back on the motherboard header. As you can see from above, mine arrived slightly bent - but nothing that a quick adjustment with some pliers couldn't fix!


Asus P5K P35 Socket 775 Motherboard Page: 3
Board Layout & Features

Right from taking the P5K out of the packaging you can tell that it has been based heavily around its elder P5B brother. This certainly isn't a bad thing as the P5B was a very well designed board that avoided many of the layout issues other manufacturers seem to be plagued with.

Asus P5K Deluxe Layout

From the image above we can see that the 8-Pin EPS-12v connector has been placed at the very top left of the board, keeping any cables trainling across the board to a minimum. The 24-Pin ATX connector has been placed just below the floppy connector found on the top right - and some fairly basic cable management should allow for the PSU's ATX cable to route around the motherboard without causing any problems.

The heatpipe cooling system covers both the northbridge, southbridge and one set of mosfets to the left of the CPU socket. At the top of the board is a lonesome passive aluminium (copper coloured) heatsink that cools another bank of mosfets. This cooler seems to be a bit of an after-thought by Asus as it is a slightly different colour to the rest of the cooling system, and could have easily been included in the heatpipe circuit.

Asus P5K Deluxe Expansion

At first glance, expansion on the P5K seems to be fairly evenly weighted with a total of 4 PCI-E and 3 PCI slots. However, after taking into consideration that adding a dual-slot GPU to each of the PEG slots will leave you with only 1 free PCI slot, the P5K appears to be more weighted towards the use of PCI-E add-in cards.

This could be seen as a bad move by Asus, but hopefully with the increasing trickle of PCI-E 1x cards entering the market, this may not be a problem for very long.

Asus P5K Deluxe SATA Asus P5K Deluxe IDE

As already shown in the specs on page 1, the P5K comes with a total of 6x SATA and 1x PATA headers. I was quite disappointed to see the P5K not using the 'angled' ports found on the Asus Commando that allow for the cables to be plugged in at a more convenient 90° angle. In fact, due to the closeness of the SATA headers to the first PEG slot, there could be some clearance issues when using the 8800Ultra with its stock full-length cooler.

Asus P5K Deluxe Socket Area

Despite the use of heatsinks on the mosfets around the socket area, Asus seem to have avoided any major clearance issues. The P5K should have no problems accomodating any of the latest waterblocks or over-sized air cooling solutions, and furthermore, the heatsinks are all easily removable should you need the extra space.

Asus P5K Deluxe Back

One thing I did find rather strange was the bank of mosfets left un-cooled at the back of the board. Many manufacturers use low-profile heatsinks to cool these components, and I was rather disappointed to see Asus not providing any kind of cooling solution for components that could essentially affect the boards stability when overclocked.

Asus P5K Deluxe Plugs

The P5K keeps things rather modern on the I/O panel with the only one legacy port for a PS2 keyboard. This is a great idea considering I can't count the number of times my USB keyboard hasn't played nice in the BIOS or hasn't been detected during a motherboard swap-out.

Also on the panel is a total of 6 USB ports, 2 eSATA ports connected to the Jmicron controller, a single Firewire port and the 8-channel ADI integrated soundcard.

All in all, a very complete and well thought out arrangement of ports - and perfect for those of us with lots of USB devices!


Asus P5K P35 Socket 775 Motherboard Page: 4
The BIOS

As with all of Asus' most recent motherboards, the P5K is based around a BIOS from Phoenix Technologies. Some enthusiasts tend to favor the Award BIOS layout over Phoenix, but it's extremely hard to find fault with the overall layout and wealth of features available on the P5K.

Asus P5K Deluxe BIOS Asus P5K Deluxe BIOS

Asus P5K Deluxe BIOS Asus P5K Deluxe BIOS

Front-Side Bus speeds are adjustable in 1mhz increments all the way from 200mhz up to a rather insane 800mhz. Of course, the board isn't actually capable of hitting such a high FSB speed, but I can only think that such a wide FSB range was placed in the BIOS to remove any possibility of a "locked down" setting from hindering some insane liquid nitrogen overclocking fun!

Voltage options are equally as flexible, with vcore available in 0.0125v increments from 1.000v all the way up to 1.700v and vdimm ranging from 1.80v to 2.55v in 0.05v steps. More information on the voltage and overclocking options can be seen in the table below:

OptionAvailable Range
FSB
200-800mhz
PCI-E Clock
100-150mhz
VCore Voltage
1.000-1.700v
CPU PLL Voltage
1.50-1.80v
Northbridge Voltage
1.25-1.70v
Southbridge Voltage
1.05-1.20v
Memory Voltage
1.80-2.55v


Asus P5K Deluxe BIOS Asus P5K Deluxe BIOS

Another feature brought over from the P5B series is the "O.C Profile" utility. This essentially allows you to save your current BIOS settings to a restorable profile, and can be very handy if you've spent a lot of time stabilising an overclock and don't want to lose the settings.

Asus P5k Deluxe BIOS Asus P5K Deluxe BIOS

Asus P5K Deluxe BIOS Asus P5K Deluxe BIOS

All other areas of the BIOS are just as feature packed and the "Hardware Monitor" seen bottom right gives fairly accurate readouts of the motherboard voltages, temperatures and fan speeds as you would expect from an enthusiast board.


Overclocking

With the success of the P5B, Commando and most P965 boards in general being a champion overclockers, the P5K certainly has quite a reputation to live up to. Using only the BIOS to overclock the installed E4300 processor with a maximum safe vcore voltage of 1.50v, I was able to achieve the following results from the P5K:

Asus P5K Deluxe Overclock Asus P5B Premium Overclock
Asus P5K Deluxe (Left) - Asus P5B Premium (Right)

As you can see from above, the P5K actually managed to beat the maximum overclock we'd previously set using the E4300 chip on the P5B Premium board by ~50mhz (5mhz FSB). This certainly shows that the P35 Northbridge can offer the same (if not better) overclock potential as its predecessor the P965.

Maximum FSB

Dropping the multiplier down to 6x and increasing the Northbridge voltage to it's maximum of 1.70v allowed for some serious FSB speeds, with the P5K hitting a very impressive 520mhz. This is 40mhz higher than the maximum FSB obtainable on our P5B Premium board, and should certainly keep the overclocking crowd happy.


Asus P5K P35 Socket 775 Motherboard Page: 5
Test Setup

To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configuration used in this review can be seen below:

 Asus P5K Deluxe (P35)
Asus P5B Premium (P965)
Processor
Intel Core2Duo E4300 @ 1.8ghz
Memory
Mushkin HP2-6400 4GB @ DDR2-800 5-4-4-12
Graphics Card
XpertVision ATI X1950Pro PCI-E 512mb (Stock)
Hard Disk
Hitachi Deskstar 80GB 7K80 SATA2 7200RPM 8mb
CPU Cooling
Stock Intel Aluminium Cooler
Operating System
Microsoft Windows XP (SP2) 32bit - Latest Patches
Graphics Drivers
ATI Catalyst 7.4.44981 (Latest Official)
Motherboard Drivers
Intel INF 8.300.1013

During the testing of Asus' P5K and P5B boards special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows XP (SP2) 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:

• Sisoft Sandra XI SP2 (CPU, Memory & HDD tests)
• SuperPI Mod v1.4 (1m and 16m)
• Cinebench 9.5
• HDTach 3.0.4.0
• Quake 4
• Counter-Strike:Source
• F.E.A.R
• 3DMark05
• 3DMark06

Asus P5K P35 Socket 775 Motherboard Page: 6
Sisoft Sandra

Sisoft Sandra is a synthetic benchmark utility capable of reporting and benchmarking a wide range of system components. For the P5K and P5B motherboards the CPU, Memory and Disk benchmarks were run a total of 3 times to ensure accuracy of results.

Sisoft Sandra


Sisoft Sandra

Sisoft Sandra

Sisoft Sandra

In all benchmarks, Sisoft Sandra showed a slight preference to the P965 chipset of the Asus P5B Premium board. However, the P35 based P5K certainly isn't far behind, managing to match the P5B in disk performance benchmarks, and come within a whisker of its elder brother in the Processor Arithmetic benchmark.


Asus P5K P35 Socket 775 Motherboard Page: 7
Super PI Results

SuperPI is the benchmark of choice for many overclockers. It's lightweight to download and can give a quick indication on how good a system is at number crunching.

Super PI 1M

Super Pi 32m

Yet again we can see that the P5B pulls ahead of the P5K. In the 1m SuperPI test, the difference is hardly noticable and could easily be dismissed. However, in the 32m benchmark, the P5K falls behind by just under 40 seconds - quite a big difference as far as SuperPI results are concerned.


HD Tach

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.

HD Tach

HD Tach

As previously seen on the Sisoft Sandra disk performance results, the P5K and P5B are pretty much head-to-head in performance despite the P5K having a newer southbridge (ICH9R vs ICH8R). HD Tach does show a small difference in Burst Speed, but nothing to call home about.


Asus P5K P35 Socket 775 Motherboard Page: 8
Cinebench

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.

Cinebench

Cinebench

Once again, the P5B takes the lead, but only by a small and fairly insignificant margin. It's certainly looking like this is going to be the pattern through all of our benchmarks, but let's move on to some of the 3D-Based benchmarks to see how the P5K fairs there.


3DMark 05/06

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

3DMark05

3DMark06

Yet again, nothing new to report. 3DMark05 shows a definite preference for the P965 chipset, with the P5B board taking 530 point lead over the P5K. 3DMark06 is a much closer race, with the P5K still in 2nd place, but only by 28 points.


Asus P5K P35 Socket 775 Motherboard Page: 9
Counter-Strike:Source, Quake4 & F.E.A.R

To benchmark "real-world" performance, both the P5K and P5B were subjected to a total of 3 current and popular PC games. Using the integrated benchmark facility provided with CS:Source and F.E.A.R, and the 3rd party benchmark facility available from Hardware OC to benchmark the performance of Quake 4, tests were run a total of 3 times to ensure accuracy.

CS:Source

Quake 4

F.E.A.R

As we can see from the results above, Counter-Strike:Source and Quake4 showed almost identical results. The only "noticable" difference in FPS was in F.E.A.R, which recorded a 2FPS advantage for the P5B board.


Asus P5K P35 Socket 775 Motherboard Page: 10
Conclusion

As you would expect from the Asus Deluxe series, the P5K is a very cable and fully featured board. Sharing many design elements of its elder brother (the P5B), the P5K manages to have a clean and very accessible layout. My only minor gripes as described earlier in this review, is the lack of 90° SATA and PATA connectors, which in my opinion help with cable routing, and may also prevent any problems using top SATA ports along with an 8800Ultra and its obtrusive full-length cooler.

In terms of performance, the P5K is almost on-par, but consistently behind the P5B. Obviously with this being a brand new board on the market Asus will still need to do some tweaking, and I'm fairly confident that Asus could bring both boards head-to-head with only a BIOS update.

Overclocking is certainly one of the P5K stronger points - and with a maximum FSB of 520mhz, my affection and respect for the board certainly increased. This combined with the fact that the P5K managed to squeeze an extra 50mhz out of our E4300 could mean that the P965 based P5B and Commando boards could soon be dethroned as the best overclocker friendly motherboards on the market.

So, in summary - the P5K Deluxe is a very well featured motherboard, with excellent overclocking abilities and performance almost as good as the P5B. With Asus stating support for the upcoming 45nm CPU's and it's legacy support for DDR2, the P5K looks to be a perfect motherboard for those of us wanting to upgrade to Intel's "Penryn" CPU's without losing the overclock-ability of our P965 boards or moving over to DDR3 platform.

The Asus P5K Deluxe motherboard is available from Tekheads.co.uk for around £160 at time of writing.

Tekheads


Pro's
• Clean and accessible layout.
• Continued support for DDR2.
• FSB speeds up to 520mhz (and beyond?).
• Overclocking on-par, or better than the P965.

Con's
• Performance a tiny bit behind the P965 at the moment (BIOS update could easily fix this)
• Possible minor issue with SATA port placement and 8800Ultra cards.


Recommended Award


Thanks to Asus for making this review possible. Discuss this review in our forums.