Asus P6T Deluxe X58 OC Palm Edition Motherboard Page: 1
With the previews done and dusted, it's now time for OC3D to get down and dirty with the Asus P6T Deluxe and some full benchmark treatment. As this is our first full X58 review, I'm sure every enthusiast wants to know how well it performs against the current high end Skt775 systems available and if indeed it's worth the money to upgrade. For this reason and until we get more X58 motherboards to compare, will be pitching the P6T deluxe against a high end 790i setup in the hope that we will see some marked performance differences.
As the P6T deluxe 'OC Palm Edition' is the first retail release from Asus under the X58 banner it will be used as the benchmark for other motherboards to compete against. It boasts an amazing array of features, SLI/Crossfire compatibility, Triple channel DDR3 and of course support for Intel's latest CPU, Nehalem. Costing near £275 it certainly isn't cheap, £30 more than the standard edition but as the title suggests, the OC Palm edition has a new(ish) feature that some may have seen before on the P5B Premium boards. The 'Screen Duo' has been re-incarnated and included in the P6T package, let's hope it is a more worthwhile addition than the previous attempt.
Here's what Asus had to say in a recent press release:
Fulfilling demand for users that require a motherboard able to achieve extraordinary overclocking capability, ASUS, world-leader in motherboard production, has unveiled the new ASUS P6T DELUXE amid high user expectation. This innovative motherboard utilises Intel’s latest platform, and features the exclusive ASUS Super Hybrid Engine concept that encompasses the TurboV and EPU technologies to deliver the twofold benefits of overclocking and power efficiency. TurboV is an advanced overclocking application that enables easy overclocking without the need to exit or reboot the operating system; while the EPU automatically provides users exceptional power efficiency. Equipped with Super Hybrid Engine, users will enjoy the best overclocking environment and address environmental concerns at the same time.
Intel Socket 1366 Core™ i7 Processor Extreme Edition/Core™ i7 Processor Supports Intel® Dynamic Speed Technology
Intel® X58 / ICH10R
System Bus Up to 6400 ; Intel® QuickPath Interconnection MT/s
6 x DIMM, 12 GB, DDR3 1600*/1333/1066 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Triple channel memory architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
*Refer to www.asus.com or this user manual for the Memory QVL(Qualified Vendors Lists).
3 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (at x16/x16/x1 or x16/x8/x8 mode)
1 x PCIe x4
2 x PCI
Supports NVIDIA® 2-Way or Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports ATI® CrossFireX™ Technology
Southbridge 6 xSATA 3 Gb/s ports
Intel Matrix Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10 Marvell 88SE63202 x SAS (RAID 0 and 1)
1 xUltraDMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices
1 xExternal SATA 3.0 Gb/s port (SATA On-the-Go)
Dual Gigabit LAN controllers 2*Marvell88E8056® PCIe Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2
ADI® AD2000B 8 -Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Support Jack-Detection, Multi-Streaming, and Front Panel Jack-Retasking
- Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
1394 VIA® VT6308 controller supports 2 x 1394a ports (one at mid-board; one at back panel)
USB 2.0 ports (6 ports at mid-board, 8 ports at back panel) 14
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard/ Mouse combo port
1 x S/PDIF Out (Coaxial + Optical)
1 x External SATA
1 x IEEE1394a
2 x RJ45 port
8 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
6 x SATA connectors
2 x SAS 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 S/PDIF Out Header
Chassis Intrusion connector
CD audio in
24-pin ATX Power connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power 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
Form Factor ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )
Wow. The P6T deluxe appears to have everything anyone could want in the specification. SLI, Crossfire, RAID etc. Perhaps the only thing missing is the dedicated sound card as seen on the higher end models.
Let's take a look at the package...
Asus P6T Deluxe X58 OC Palm Edition Motherboard Page: 2
Packaging & Contents
The P6T Deluxe is presented in a rather huge blue box that easily equals the size of two standard motherboard boxes stacked atop of each other. This is quite unusual for a non-RoG (Republic of Gamers) motherboard, which are normally only treated to a standard sized box with very little in the way of protection.
The front of the box features a fairly basic blue pyramid style background adorned with various specification stickers detailing the main highlights of the board. However, in true ASUS style, the front of the box is but merely a gateway into further information where ASUS have placed detailed descriptions for all of the boards features underneath a cardboard flap.
Opening up the box we can also see the reasoning behind the XXL packaging. Unlike a lot of ASUS's P5 series, the P6T is separated from the accessories compartment by a cardboard inner-box complete with a clear plastic lid. This should certainly go a long way to keeping the motherboard safe during shipping, even if dropped.
Contained within the accessories box is the usual collection of SATA and IDE cables along with ASUS' padded "Q-Shield" I/O plate, the TurboV LCD display, a Q-Fan and two additional SATA cables that provide a more robust connection by combining the SATA data and power headers together. Granted there's nothing overly exciting, but still more than some manufacturers provide.
One section of the accessories which is most welcome is the re-introduction of the 'Screen Duo', now re-branded 'OC Palm'. While at first glance it may look pretty innocuous, after firing up the motherboard board and installing the driver for this little gadget, it becomes all too apparent where that extra £30 went. Gone are the endless reboots to enter BIOS settings to change voltages and frequencies, this little baby will allow you to change the key voltage and frequency settings on the fly. Best of all it actually works! Here are a few snaps of the OC Palm in action and the settings available:
I tried a changing a few basic adjustments such as Vcore, Bclk frequency and low and behold, CPU-Z reported the changes instantly! Not only that but your valuable new hardware can also be monitored with the push of a button thanks to the hardware monitor. The screen was easy to use, self explanatory and pleasing to the eye. The Screen Duo of old, while a novel idea, didn't really add anything useful to the motherboard and was merely a gadget, nothing more. The OC palm on the other hand is already a useful addition and could possibly become a mainstay for every motherboard in the future in one format or another, such is its usefullness. It is rare to see such bright ideas and innovations in what has recently been a fairly stagnated PC market so a big thumbs up to Asus for succumbing to the enthusiasts needs.
So then, an impressive start for the new Asus motherboard, speaking of which, let's take a look at the main feature of the package, the motherboard itself...
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Unlike the higher-end E-ATX based Rampage II Extreme
, the P6T Deluxe is thankfully still standard ATX sized and as such will have no problems fitting in the average midi-tower sized chassis. This does however have the side-effect of making the board look slightly cluttered, although ASUS need to be commended for avoiding issues such as the DDR3 slots being squashed up against the primary PCI-E slot or oversized capacitors hindering the use of certain Air/Water cooling solutions.
The back of the board features ASUS' "Stack Cool 2" system which essentially acts as a PCB heatspreader along with screw fixings for the Northbridge cooler and a solid metal back plate attached to the LGA1366 socket to help prevent warping of the board. Unfortunately ASUS haven't used screw fixings for the mosfet or Southbridge cooling, but this is only a minor gripe considering neither coolers are heavy enough to cause any real issues.
Taking into account both the size of the LGA1366 socket and the 16 chokes situated around the socket in a 9 + 7 configuration, the socket area is fairly clear of obstructions. Obviously those who dabble in sub-zero cooling and would be looking to insulate the board from condensation will probably disagree, but without moving to a Digital PWM "a la DFI", there really is very little that could be done to make the layout any better.
Unlike the X38 and X48 chipsets, the X58 isn't fitted with an IHS (Integrated Heat Spreader). This combined with the two-pin mounting hole system of the Northbridge leaves the X58's core wide open to being "nibbled" by aftermarket cooling solutions that may not mount flatly on the cores surface. Fortunately ASUS have enabled the black aluminium heatsink mounted on top of the heatpipe cooling system to be removed, leaving behind a flat copper plate for mounting any aftermarket cooling to (in theory).
Powering the six DDR3 slots is a three phase PWM system similar to that used on the P5E3 Premium
. However, as the sticker emblazoned across the DDR3 slots so rightly points out, setting the DDR3 voltage above 1.65v can cause serious damage to the CPU (indicating some truth to the recent reports) and therefore only DDR3 modules that can operate with 1.65v or lower should be used on the board.
In addition to this the board also features an "OV_CPU" jumper that opens up additional (dangerous?) voltage selection options for CPU in the BIOS. This was the very jumper that caused me to put 1.9v through a QX9650 on the P5E3 only a few months back, so exercise caution before enabling it on your shiny new Nehalem.
The I/O area at the back of the board is fully featured with a total of eight USB ports, two NIC's, an eSATA port, an IEE1394 port, a PS2 port (than can be used for either a mouse or keyboard) and a Six Channel Audio system with Coax and Digital connectors. This is in line with most of ASUS' recent motherboards, barring the RoG series that ditch the onboard audio in favour of an add-in card.
Moving on to the internal slots we can see that ASUS have opted for three physical PCIe 16x slots, one PCIe 1x slot and two PCI slots. The layout of these slots is configured in such a way that should you utilise two graphics cards in SLI or Crossfire configurations (with dual slot coolers), you will still be left with access to a single PCI slot and PCIe 1x slot. Disappointingly, the PCIe layout is such that triple SLI/Crossfire will be an impossibility with dual slot graphics cards.
Finally a closer look at some of the smaller components on the board reveal an engineering sample ICH10R Southbridge controller marked "Intel Secret", a Marvell 88SE6320 SAS controller (supporting 2 x SAS devices in RAID 0 and 1 configuration ) and a VIA Fire IIM VT6308P/S 1394 Host Controller for Firewire. All in all, an extremely respectable line-up.
Let's take a look at the BIOS options available on the P6T Deluxe...
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Skipping past the usual plethora of BIOS options we had straight for the business end of the BIOS, the AI Tweaker section. Those used to Skt775 will notice an option that is no longer present on the P6T Deluxe and that's the FSB (Front Side Bus) feature. That's because this has, in its most basic form, been replaced by what Asus calls Base Clock. Using a large multiplier and small clock may seem like suicide for performance freaks looking to squeeze every last drop of performance out of their rigs but there is a method to Intel's madness as this doesn't seem to have affected the performance as we shall see in the benchmarking section of the review.
Notice when the CPU ratio (maximum of 20 on the i7 920) is changed from AUTO to 20, the Speedstep and more importantly, the 'Turbo Mode Tech' options disappear? The Turbomode Tech works by altering the CPU multiplier past its maximum setting of 20 up to 21 when the CPU is put under load, working to the opposite of Speedstep. So in effect when the CPU is under load, the CPU is overclocked by the multi which is great news for those who don't wish to overclock the BCLK (Base Clock) frequency but still desire that extra boost when it is needed most.
Remember how I said that the FSB is no more? Well that's not all, the chipset strap has also died a death and has been replaced by settings unfamiliar to those who have become accustomed to skt775 settings. The UCLK Frequency option controls the speed of the Uncore clock, which in turn controls the bandwidth for the link between the on die memory controller and therefore the DDR3 modules themselves. This link speed is dependent of the DRAM memory dividers (frequency) as shown above. The QPI (Quick Path Interconnect) Link Data are similar in operation to Hyper transport bus found on previous Intel motherboards and are directly linked to the input of the Bclk (Base Clock) setting. Got that, OK let's move on.
Memory Timings are still here thank goodness and the Asus P6T Deluxe has these settings in abundance with every timing you could possibly wish for. For simplicity, only the basic settings were adjusted for this review with the ram modules set at their stock ratings of 8-8-8-24.
Above left we see the remainder of the DRAM timings and above right is the scary part of the BIOS. Here you can see the maximum available voltages which anyone would be crazy to use on their shiny new i7 CPU's (no I didn't actually set these!). The Vcore can also be pushed even higher (2.1v!) should you feel the need but this can only be done by switching the on board CPU Over voltage jumper. There are plenty of GTL reference voltages to play around with too once you have found you maximum overclock which may help to help stabilise the overclocked settings. Also in-situ is the Loadline Calibration tool which on testing worked very well with Vdroop suffering only ever so slightly (0.02v).
Rounding off the BIOS section, we come to the Hardware monitoring section. While this section is useful on most motherboards, I somehow felt it was made redundant by the OC Palm monitoring software, not that either should be trusted 100% anyway and should only really be used as a guide.
So then, a very complete if somewhat different BIOS to what Core2 users will be familiar with. Rest assured though, it is pretty easy to pick up once you get your head around the new settings. It always helps when you have such a well laid out BIOS such as the one Asus have provided with the P6T Deluxe.
Let's take a look at how the board actually performs with a few tweaks of the new settings available..
Asus P6T Deluxe X58 OC Palm Edition Motherboard Page: 5
As promised, we will be pitching the Asus P6T deluxe and entry level i7 920 combo up against the best Skt 775 has to offer in the form of the Nvidia 790i Ultra and the range topping Intel QX9770. Obviously a direct comparison cannot be drawn due to the different motherboards, chipsets and not to mention triple channel memory but for the purposes of the review, the rigs will be run at there stock clocked levels. While I appreciate it is not a 'clock for clock' comparison, comparing clock for clock from one generation to another is fruitless as I think we all know what the outcome would be. With the QX having a 534mhz clockspeed advantage, the results may well be a little more even and should return a more balanced review.
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 configurations used in this review can be seen below:
CPU: Intel Nehalem i7 920 Skt1366 2.66GHz
Motherboard: Asus P6T Deluxe 'OC Palm'
Memory: 3x2GB Corsair Dominator DDR3 1600mhz @ 8-8-8-24
HD : Hitachi Deskstar 7k160 7200rpm 80GB
GPU: Nvidia GTX280
Graphics Drivers: GeForce 180.60
PSU: Gigabyte ODIN 1200w
CPU: Intel Yorkfield QX9770 skt 775 3.2Ghz
Motherboard: Nvidia 790i Ultra SLI
Memory: 2GB Patriot Viper @ 1600 8-8-8-24
HD: Hitachi Deskstar 7k160 7200rpm 80GB
GPU: Nvidia GTX280
Graphics Drivers: GeForce 180.60
PSU: Silverstone Strider 1000w
During the testing of the setups above, special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows Vista was also used before the benchmarking began, with a full defrag of the hard drive once all the drivers and software were installed, preventing any possible performance issues due to leftover drivers from the previous motherboard installations. For the 3DMark and gaming tests a single card configuration was used.
To guarantee a broad range of results, the following benchmark utilities were used:
Synthetic CPU Test
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• PassMark CPU test
• SuperPI 1m, 8m, 32m
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• Everest 4.60
File Compression & Encoding
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• 7-Zip File Compression
• River Past ViMark
Disk I/O Performance
• HDTach 184.108.40.206
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• Cinebench 10
• 3DMark 05
• 3DMark 06
• 3DMark Vantage
• Far Cry 2
• Company of Heroes
Overall System Performance
• PCMark Vantage
Power consumption was measured at the socket using a plug-in mains power and energy monitor. Idle readings were taken after 5 minutes in Windows. Load readings were taken during a run of 3DMark Vantage.
As you can see, the Skt775 based setup uses a lot more power at both idle and load. No additional software for power saving (such as the Asus EPU-6 engine) were used so the differences at idle could be even more given the right configuration. A few years use changing setups over to skt1366 and in particular the Asus P6T Deluxe, could see the system pay for itself!Overclocking
Using a respectable Vcore of 1.4v, the remainder of BIOS voltage settings were left in their stock state to ensure equality throughout the testing. Obviously the two boards and CPU are different but these graphs show the overclocking potential of the CPU's and motherboards.
While it may look like the QX9770 overclocks a little better, the i7 920 starts of with a 534mhz deficit making it by far the better overclocker. All that was needed to overclock the i7 920 was a base clock increase to 200 mhz and the multiplier set to 20. With 1.4v on the Vcore, 4ghz was easily attained.
Let's take a look at how each setup compares in our suite of benchmarks with the settings reverted back to their stock state. Special consideration should be given to the fact that the QX9770 costs £1000+, while the i7 920 CPU used on the P6T Deluxe costs around a quarter of that. Bare in mind also that the i7 920 is the entry level CPU in the i7 range whereas the QX9770 is the range topper of skt775. It certainly makes for some interesting testing!
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As you can see, the superior architecture of the P6T deluxe and the i7 920 take an early lead in our benchmarking suite. Clearly the i7 920, despite the 534 mhz deficit, has a massive advantage over the QX9770. Let's see how this transpires over the next few benchmarks...
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I was as shocked as anybody to see the Nvidia/QX9770 based setup beating the P6T Deluxe/i7 920. I checked and triple checked all of the BIOS settings, sure that I must be missing something but everything was set and working as it should be. However, consideration should obviously be given to the fact that the QX9770 costs more than the whole of the i7 setup and if the range topping i7 965 CPU was used, it may have been a different story all together. Bang per buck at least, the Asus setup wins but I think these results have shown that there is still life left in skt775, albeit at a bigger cost than i7.
Let's take a look at the overall performance of the setups on test today...
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PCMark Vantage is the latest benchmarking suite from Futuremark. Differing significantly from their 3DMark suites, PCMark performs a series of benchmarks designed to recreate and benchmark scenarios of a PC being used for everyday tasks. Vantage has a Vista only requirement as it actually relies on several different components from the OS in order to run correctly.
Contrary to our gaming benchmarks on the previous page, PCMark suggests that the P6T Deluxe/i7 920 is the better platform for gaming. The Hard drive and music encoding benchmarks back up what we saw earlier with the Nvidia790i/QX9770 taking a firm lead. The rest of the benchmarks are pretty evenly matched throughout this testing session.
Let's head over to the conclusion where I attempt to put some perspective on today's testing...
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It's clear from the outset that the Asus P6T Deluxe is a quality product. Not only is the package well thought out and very well presented as per usual Asus standards, the motherboard itself is a masterpiece of current PC technology. Comprising the latest Intel chipset, triple DDR3 and the option of either SLI or Crossfire, it shouldn't matter whether you prefer the red or green camp, either way you are going to win with the Asus P6T Deluxe.
The OC Palm only adds to the allure of the package and I certainly was not expecting the usefulness of the product. Couple this with the excellent BIOS, software package and power saving features of the Asus board and you have a very rounded, if somewhat expensive product.
If there was a single criticism I could aim at the P6T, it would be the proximity of the PCIe slots. I cannot see the sense in populating the board with 2 PCI slots next to each other and then cramming 2 PCIe slots together at the bottom of the board. If I were a cynic then I would think that Asus were forcing people who want tri SLI/Crossfire to buy the Rampage II Extreme or one of the heavily anticipated Evolution boards. That said, if you have no intention of using triple graphics cards then this is a non issue.
The benchmarks we ran today were perhaps a little unfair on the P6T Deluxe as the Nvidia setup was using a top of the range CPU, whereas the Asus had to 'make do' with entry level i7. Nonetheless, I think it showed the potential of the motherboard and I have no doubts that if the two setups were compared clock for clock or at their maximum overclocked speeds, the P6T would easily come out on top. For now though it's our only basis of comparison but stay tuned because a tasty Gigabyte motherboard has just arrived at OC3D towers which will give a better insight to just how good or bad the P6T deluxe really is among the current crop of X58 motherboards.
- OC Palm
- No onboard CMOS reset switch
- On board audio
- PCIe positioning
It's very difficult to give out an award for the P6T Deluxe as the product has yet to have a direct comparison but based on todays review, I have no hesitation on recommending the product. Once the board has had a comparative review I will add any awards and adjust the current score as appropriate.
Buy the Asus P6T Deluxe from our retail partner Ebuyer for £275.
Thanks to Asus for providing the P6T Deluxe OC Palm edition for todays review. Discuss in our forums.