Asus P7H57D-V EVO Motherboard Page: 1

The year of 2010 has commenced with quite a bang, offering the release of mainstream LGA1156 processors. These processors are significant for two reasons. First and foremost, these are the true successors to Intel's Core 2 Duo and Quad processors, marking the slow and painful demise of LGA775. Second of all, it should mean that peasants such as myself are able to afford an upgrade to a current generation Intel platform. As part of the Q1 launch, we saw the arrival of five dual core processors, listed below.

 

For those who are greatly angered by product naming schemes today, I suggest you find an inanimate object to attack to prevent causing harm to your near and dear...as the naming scheme has just got worse. Prior to this release, the Core iX was split into two families over two sockets. The Core i7, which exists on the triple channel LGA1366 platform and the dual channel LGA1156. Meanwhile, the Intel Core i5 consisted of a single Quad Core processor on the LGA1156 socket, sporting all of the Core i7's features minus Hyperthreading Technology. As of now, the Core i5 range now includes a number of dual core processors, which support Hyperthreading technology and turbo boost. To complement these processors, Intel also included Core i3 processors, which are just like the aforementioned Dual Cores...minus Turbo Boost. Finally, the Pentium brand has been added as the Matt Damon of the range, lacking Turbo Boost, Hyperthreading Technology and a reduced Level 3 Cache. To add to the confusion, the range topping Core i5 660 is priced higher than Core i5 750 and Core i7 920 processors.

 

  Core i3 530 Core i3 540 Core i5 650

Core i5 660

Core i5 670 Core i5 750
Frequency 2.93GHz 3.06GHz 3.20GHz 3.33GHz 3.46GHz 2.66GHz
Hyperthreading Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Turbo Boost No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cores 2 2 2 2 2 4
Level 3 Cache 4MB 4MB 4MB 4MB 4MB 8MB
Price £90 £110 £150 £165 £235 £135

 

Rant aside, Intel has also reconsidered it's implementation of integrated GPUs. Much like the Intel Core i5/i7 Quads that have integrated PCI-Express controllers, the Intel Core i3/i5 duals have a similar configuration, with the exception that an integrated GPU has been placed under the hood too. It should also be mentioned that the Core i3/i5 Dual Core PCI-Express controller does not have sufficient lanes to operate nVidia SLI or Ati Crossfire in 8x/8x mode.

Slight problem. In order for these integrated GPUs to do anything, they need motherboards that physically implement them and sport the relevant video ports. This is where the Intel H55 and H57 chipsets come into the picture. The H55/H57 chipsets are naturally the first to natively support Intel's 32nm Dual Core processors and although they can support Core i5/i7 Quads, the provision for Integrated Graphics use has been made available thanks to the implementation of DVI/VGA/HDMI/Displayport inputs (dependant on manufacturer).

 

   
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As expected, H55/H57 motherboards have arrived in all shapes and sizes. Today, we'll be taking Asus' flagship H57 motherboard to the test. Meet the Asus P7H57D-EVO.

Processor Support Intel® Socket 1156 Core™ i7 Processor/Core™ i5 Processor/Core™ i3 Processor/ Pentium® Processor
Chipset Intel® H57 Express Chipset
Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 16 GB, DDR3 2133(O.C.)*/1600/1333/1066 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (single at x16 or dual at x8/x8 mode)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x1 (5GT/s, blue slot)
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1 (2.5GT/s, gray slots)
2 x PCI
VGA Multi-VGA output support: HDMI, DVI-D, RGB
Supports HDMI with max. resolution 1920 x 1200@60Hz
Supports DVI with max. resolution 1920 x 1200@60Hz
Supports RGB with max. resolution 2048 x 1536@75Hz
Maximum shared memory of 1748 MB
Multi-GPU Support Supports ATI® Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Storage Intel® H57 Express Chipset built-in
6 xSATA 3.0 Gb/s ports
Intel Matrix Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10
Marvell® SATA 6Gb/s controller:
- 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports (gray)
Marvell® 88SE6111 SATA & PATA controller:
- 1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices
- 1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port (SATA on-the-go)
LAN Realtek® 8112L Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2
Audio Realtek® ALC889 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
IEEE 1394 VIA® 6308P controller supports 2 x 1394a port(s) (one at mid-board; one at back panel)
USB NEC® USB 3.0 controller:
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports (blue; at back panel)
Intel® H57 Express Chipset:
- 12 x USB 2.0 ports (8 ports at mid-board, 4 ports at back panel)


While Asus certainly need no introduction, it should be said that given the popularity of Asus' X58 and P55 motherboards, we hope to see these new H55/H57 boards following suit. With the bar set and the scene fully painted, let's get cracking.



Asus P7H57D-V EVO Motherboard Page: 2

Asus have clearly used tighter packaging this time round. Opening the box revealed the standard layer of accessories sitting on top of a cardboard layer that covers the motherboard itself.

   

Our particular sample seemed to have arrived with it's mosfet cooler out of place. It appeared ill fitted and upon closer examination it became apparent that one of the bolts and springs was missing in the packaging. Such samples shift from reviewer to reviewer and as such aren't new from the box. From our examination of the box, I have no reason to believe that it was the quality of the packaging that caused this slight discrepancy.

 

      

The motherboard layout has been well thought out. The CPU socket area remains reasonably clean and the location of both USB/SATA ports make them suitably accessible. Asus have also left plenty of room for two double height graphics cards to operate in tandem. Quite possibly the nicest physical feature of the motherboard is the absence of plastic tabs on the lower side of the memory banks, which aids the removal and addition of RAM when a long graphics card is nearby.

 

   

As shown above, the P7H57D EVO has DVI, VGA and HDMI inputs. The inclusion of all three video inputs means that the fixed USB count stands at just 6. An additional PCI bracket has been included with two USB and one eSATA port to make up for this.

 

Note the two SATA ports in white are SATA 6Gbps and the red USB ports are USB 3.0.

 

 

The accessories bundle is quite generous as well. Included in our sample's offerings was the aforementioned USB/eSATA PCI Plate, 4x SATA cables, I/O Shield, ATi Crossfire bridge, Manual, Driver CD and IDE Cable.


From an installation perspective, the motherboard was trouble free.



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The P7H57D-V EVO's BIOS should be easy for most individuals to familiarise themselves with. Generally everything is where it should be and the names of parameters are generic enough for anyone migrating from another motherboard brand to understand.

 

 

      

Naturally we aren't all that interested about the first menu tab, so off we went to the Jumper Free configuration tab.

 

Overclocking on the LGA1156 platform isn't particularly difficult, where the main parameters include CPU BCLK (reference frequency), a CPU Multiplier and a Memory Ratio. Asus include a number of different Overclock modes. Auto, Manual, X.M.P and D.O.C.C. The first one enables Asus' own Auto Overclock utility, while the final two will adjust the CPU Multi/BCLK in order to attain memory speeds higher than the 1333MHz offered. For example, our 4GB Corsair PC3-12800 memory kit has an X.M.P profile to operate at 1600MHz with 8-8-8-24 1.65V parameters. Enabling XMP will fetch this data automatically.

 

As far as Voltage parameters are concerned, there's more than enough for those who overclock on air, water and possibly more “hardcore” solutions.

 

Overclocking

 

Our overclocking endeavours took us to a reasonable 198MHz max bootable BCLK before it would refuse to boot and a final verified stable frequency of 186MHz (a resultant CPU frequency of 4092MHz). I had personally hoped to see BCLK frequencies north of 200MHz with this particular motherboard however we didn't quite get there.

 

 

 

 

This isn't particularly related to the overclock itself, however we discovered that CPU-Z was reporting alarmingly high CAS Latencies of anywhere between 10 and 12. This would occur regardless of automatic SPD detection or manual selection of the parameter in BIOS. We came across a newer BIOS on the Asus website, which includes “improved memory compatibility”, which brings us on to...

 

 

BIOS EZFlash2

 

Asus includes an embedded BIOS flash utility with a number of it's motherboards. Not only does it allow the user to update the motherboard's BIOS from a CD or Removable USB drive, it's also possible to access a ROM file from your Hard Drive. The tool permits navigation through your storage device's folders and will only display compatible file types.

 

 

   



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Express Gate is a nifty Linux based OS that offers basic functionality outside of your main Operating System.

 

In a nutshell it's quite a responsive operating system with a very intuitive interface. If I had any reservations about Express Gate, it'd be that you need Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7 installed in order to install the Express Gate operating system. I dare say that the operating system would be a true winner if it came embedded on the motherboard itself or on a USB memory storage device.

 

Asus TurboV

For those that are less savvy on the overclocking front, TurboV offers a friendlier interface for processor overclocking.

 

The two key areas of overclocking offered are Automatic overclocking and “CPU Level Up” preset parameters. The automatic overclocking facility within TurboV boosted our Core i3 530 processor by 38% to a speedy 4.05GHz, just 60MHz shy of our own endeavours. This was verified stable by OCCT's LinPack test.

 

 

CPU Level Up offers more conservative overclocks in order to match faster processors in the CPU family. For example, our Core i3 530 was provided with options to overclock to “Core i3 540 3.06GHz”, “Core i5 650 3.2GHz” and “Core i5 661 3.3GHz”.

 

 

At no point did the application crash. Software overclocking has come a long way over the years, such that novices can easily help themselves to a slice of free performance pie.

 

Also included in TurboV is the ability to overclock the integrated GPU.

   



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CPU Testing

 

 

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility capable of benchmarking the performance of individual components inside a PC.


 

 

 

 

PhotoWorxx as the name may suggest tests processors by means of invoking functions that are common to Photo Manipulation including Fill, Flip, Crop, Rotate, Difference and Colour to B&W conversion.


CPU Queen is based on branch prediction and the misprediction penalties that are involved.


This is an integer based benchmark that will test the CPU and Memory by means of the CPU ZLib compression library.



WinRAR's embedded Benchmark focuses on the processor's File Compression capability.


Some interesting results here. In some cases, our heavily overclocked Core i3 530 @ 4.10GHz was holding it's own against the native quad core i5 750. When one considers that this processor is priced lower than the outgoing Core 2 Duo E8400, it's clear that we're seeing some progress. That said, the Core i5 750 appears to be representing better value for money...



Asus P7H57D-V EVO Motherboard Page: 6

 

Hard Disk Drive and Memory Performance

 

 

 

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility capable of benchmarking the performance of individual components inside a PC.

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

The above tests haven't really returned anything of significant importance. I should mention again that the Samsung Spinpoint 320GB HDD was plugged into a SATA6 controller and unsurprisingly it couldn't take advantage of the potential bandwidth available. You might be concerned by the Everest Memory Bandwidth figures however it became clear that the software wasn't particularly optimised for the H55/H57 platform. All in all, everything is appearing just fine.



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System Wide, Video & Gaming Performance

 

PCMark Vantage

 

PCMark Vantage is Futuremark's flagship "System Wide" benchmark. With a large focus on day to day operations, it's an excellent means of judging the capability of a computer as a whole.



 

Passmark paints a picture about the system as a whole by testing processor, memory, hard disk drive, optical drive and graphics card.


 

 

 

Futuremark's 3DMark06 is a means of testing a system's capability as a gaming machine. It has aged a little, however remains to be an excellent benchmark for all round 3D testing.


 

 

Microsoft's HD Suite contains a variety of 720p and 1080p video clips. We selected one of each for our testing and gauged performance on the basis of CPU utilisation and fluidity.


 

Flash HD - www.youtube.com

 

Watching Flash based High Definition Video is often more tasking on a system than you'd be led to believe. Let's see how our test setup performs here.


Games

 

 

Left 4 Dead is a very popular hit and as such was a game that we wanted to throw at our Core i3 530's Integrated GPU. Let's see how well it performs.

 

With the video and gaming segment covered, the Asus P7H57D-V EVO appears to have completed our testing phase on a good note. If I were to comment on anything here, it'd be the clear progress made by the Integrated GPU when compared to it's predecessors. Having flown through HD Video playback and even capably playing Left 4 Dead with a few settings cranked up, it's fair to say that a dedicated GPU won't be necessary for many.



Asus P7H57D-V EVO Motherboard Page: 8


So it seems as though the Asus P7H57D-V EVO has fared rather well across the board (pun not intended). To summarise, it allowed us to push our Core i3 530 CPU to 4.1GHz, carries a number of interesting and (for some) useful features. It has proven to be a very stable motherboard and sports more SATA/USB ports than Octopus' have legs. In terms of it's offerings, I would struggle not to recommend one to form the basis of one's next computer...if it weren't for one thing. Price.

 

At £150, this particular motherboard sits alongside the best of Intel P55 and AMD 790FX motherboards, budget Core i7 X58 motherboards such as the Gigabyte X58-UD3R/Asus P6T and quite alarmingly, it's almost possible to buy two Micro ATX H55 motherboards for the same price.

 

It raises big questions about what exactly this motherboard is trying to achieve and what it's even meant to be competing against! If someone wanted a motherboard to utilise Integrated Graphics, why would they spend this much on one? Yet, if the Integrated Graphics wasn't a requirement, then why not spend less anyway and buy a faster processor with the money saved? I'd also like to reiterate that a Core i3/i5 Dual Core processor will not support ATI Crossfire or nVidia SLI.

 

I could go on. It pains me to say it as I was highly appreciative about this particular motherboard but the pricing is simply too high for what it is. On that basis, the Asus P7H57D-V EVO receives no recommendation from myself, however I dare say that it's more affordable brethren are worth a serious look instead.

 

The Good

 

The Mediocre

Thank you to Asus for supplying todays sample, you can discuss the review further in our forums.