Asus P5K vs Asus P5K3 Benchmarks (DDR2 vs DDR3) Page: 1
Introduction

Just over a month ago Overclock3D had the opportunity to review one of Asus's first Intel P35 based motherboards. Despite the P35's native support for DDR3, the Asus P5K had been designed to satisfy the needs of people who wanted to move to Intel's latest 45nm chips while remaining on the DDR2 platform.

However, at the very same time Asus also released the P5K3. Essentially the same motherboard as the P5K, the P5K3 also added support for DDR3 modules along with a slightly revised chipset cooling layout.

So when we managed to get our hands on both boards along with some cream-of-the-crop DDR2 and DDR3 memory modules, we couldn't help but wonder what the performance difference between these two motherboards and more importantly the two memory technologies (DDR2 and DDR3) would be.

So to summarise, today's review is going to be a bit of a mixed bag. Firstly we're going to take a brief look at the P5K3, and then we're going to load both motherboards up with some DDR2 and DDR3 memory modules, run some benchmarks at the the highest native memory speeds and analyse the results. For those who want more detailed information on the P5K3 motherboard, check out our P5K review here as both boards share exactly the same layout.


Specification

Before we get down to the nitty gritty and bust the P5K3 out of it's packaging, let's take a quick look at the subtle differences in specs between the two boards using the information taken from Asus's website.

 Asus P5K3
Asus P5K
Supported CPU's
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
ChipsetIntel® P35 / ICH9R with Intel® Fast Memory Access Technology
Front Side Bus
1333 / 1066 / 800 MHz
Memory
4 x DIMM, max. 8GB, DDR3 1333 /1066 / 800 MHz4 x DIMM, max. 8GB, DDR2 1066 / 800 / 667 MHz
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
LANDual 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)

As mentioned previously, there really is very little difference between the P5K and P5K3 motherboards apart from their support for different memory technologies (as highlighted above in Orange). However, for the sake of taking some pictures, let's move on to the next page where we can get a closer look at the P5K3 in all it's glory.

Asus P5K vs Asus P5K3 Benchmarks (DDR2 vs DDR3) Page: 2
Packaging

Not wanting to cover old ground, the P5K3 Deluxe motherboard packaging is essentially the same as the recently reviewed P5K Deluxe. The only changes that have been made are to the some of the specifications, and obviously the name on the box.

Asus P5K3 Deluxe Packaging Asus P5K3 Deluxe Plackaging

Once again, the contents inside the box are exactly the same (apart form the motherboard) with Asus giving you everything needed to get you up and running:

• 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


The P5K3 Motherboard

If you're looking for a full ballistics report on the motherboard layout and connectors, this can all be found in the P5K review located here. As both boards share almost identical designs, let's just concentrate on the minor differences.

Asus P5K3 Deluxe Motherboard Asus P5K3 Deluxe VRM Cooling

It's good to see that Asus decided to upgrade the heatpipe cooling on slightly the P5K3, with the cooling system now making an almost full circuit around the Southbridge, Northbridge and both sets of PWM chips. This is an improvement over the P5K that used a seperate heatsink for cooling the upper PWM chips.

Asus P5K3 Deluxe DDR3 Slots

Apart from the difference in colour (Orange vs Yellow), there's very little here to tell us that we're looking at DDR3 slots. After all, both DDR2 and DDR3 feature a total of 240 pins, with only a slight change in the location of the notch at the bottom of the modules preventing you from making a catastrophic mistake.

Now that we've covered the minor motherboard differences, let's move on to the test setup and some benchmarks.


Asus P5K vs Asus P5K3 Benchmarks (DDR2 vs DDR3) Page: 3
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 P5K3 Deluxe (DDR3)
Asus P5K Deluxe (DDR2)
Processor
Intel Core2Duo E4300 @ 3.0ghz (333x9)
Memory
Kingston PC3-11000 2GB DDR3 (7-7-7-20) @ 1333mhz
Kingston PC2-9600 2GB DDR2 (5-5-5-15) @ 1066mhz
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

After much discussion on our forums about how this review would be conducted, the final concensus was to run both the DDR2 and DDR3 memory modules at the motherboard's highest native memory speeds (1066mhz for the P5K and 1333mhz for the P5K3). These speeds are counter-weighted by the difference in memory timings (5-5-5-15 on DDR2 vs 7-7-7-20 on DDR3) which should give us a good idea of how lower frequency DDR2 compares to its higher latency DDR3 counterpart.

Asus P5K Deluxe (DDR2) CPU-Z

CPUZ CPUZ


Asus P5K3 Deluxe (DDR3) CPU-Z

CPUZ CPUZ

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 vs Asus P5K3 Benchmarks (DDR2 vs DDR3) Page: 4
Application Test Results

Sisoft Sandra

Sisoft Sandra is a synthetic benchmark utility capable of reporting and benchmarking a wide range of system components. For the P5K and P5K3 motherboards we run both the Memory Bandwidth and Memory Latency benchmarks 3 times to ensure accuracy of results.

Asus P5K3 Deluxe Sandra Asus P5K3 Deluxe Sandra


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.

Asus P5K3 Deluxe Everest Asus P5K3 Deluxe Everest


SuperPI

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.

Asus P5K Deluxe SuperPI Asus P5K3 Deluxe SuperPI


Result Observations

With the P5K3 motherboard taking the lead by a small percentage in both Sisoft Sandra and Everest bandwidth benchmarks along with SuperPI, it's clear to see that that the looser 7-7-7-20 timings of the DDR3 memory are easily made up by it's 266mhz speed advantage.

The only benchmark that seemed to disagree with this was Sisoft Sandra's Latency results, which reported a 3ns advantage for the DDR2 based P5K motherboard.


Asus P5K vs Asus P5K3 Benchmarks (DDR2 vs DDR3) Page: 5
Gaming Test Results

3DMark3DMark

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.

Asus P5K3 Deluxe 3DMark05 Asus P5K3 Deluxe 3DMark06


FEAR

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.

Asus P5K3 Deluxe FEAR


Quake4

Quake 4 is a game built on the Doom 3 engine. Benchmarking was performed using Quake4Bench and a custom timedemo recording along with 4xAA, 8xAF settings at a resolution of 1280x1024.

Asus P5K3 Deluxe Quake4


CSS

Counter-Strike:Source is a popular multi-player FPS based on the extremely scaleable Source engine. The game takes advantage of many DirectX 9.0c features, but is fairly undemanding on the GPU and tends to thrive on systems with fast CPU's and Memory.

Asus P5K3 Deluxe CSS


Result Observations

Both F.E.A.R and Quake4 produced almost identical results from the P5K and P5K3 systems, possibly indicating that the ATI X1950Pro graphics card used in the test was a bottleneck in the overall system performance. 3DMark was a similar affair, with the P5K3 snatching the lead by only a handfull of points.

Counter-Strike:Source was a slightly different story, showing a healthy increase of almost 10fps on the DDR3 setup.


Asus P5K vs Asus P5K3 Benchmarks (DDR2 vs DDR3) Page: 6
Conclusion

Since the release of DDR3 a short while ago, we've all been aware of the increased latencies surrounding this new technology. However, as the test results have proved today, a mediocre increase in memory speed (133mhz in this case) is all that's required to bring the high latency DDR3 modules up to and above the performance of DDR2 modules running at much tighter timings.

Of course, at the moment DDR3 modules are significantly more expensive than their DDR2 counterparts. This is more than likely to deter a large portion of enthusiasts from making the switch, but with more and more DDR3 motherboards entering the market and Intel's X38 chipset on the horizon, the price of DDR3 is bound to take a nosedive.

As for the P5K3 motherboard, not much has really changed from it's DDR2 based P5K twin brother. The layout of both boards is identical, meaning our previous praise for the P5K's layout and features is still valid. In addition to this, the P5K3 was also able to match the 520mhz FSB previously obtained by the P5K, and the maximum overclock on our E4300 CPU remained the same.

Both the P5K and P5K3 motherboards are available from the recommended retailers below for around £150. In addition to this, there is actually very little difference in price between the two boards, allowing you freely choose what memory platform to adopt without paying through the nose for the latest technology.

Tekheads


Pro's
• Clean and accessible layout.
• FSB speeds up to 520mhz (and beyond?).
• Improved heatpipe cooling system over the P5K.
• The higher latencies of DDR3 are easily overcome by a relatively small increase in Mhz.

Con's
• Despite the reasonable price of the motherboard, DDR3 prices are still very high.


Recommended Award


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