Asus P7P55D EVO P55 Motherboard - Performance Revealed Page: 1
Intel Core i5
 
Last month we gave you a sneak preview of the first P55 motherboard (see HERE). At that time we were restricted on what we could tell you but now the NDA has passed we can reveal, in full, the performance figures the board managed and compare this to both an i7 setup and a test rig based on AMD's AM3 architecture, all from Asus. This should give you all the best possible, informed choice on where your money should go.
 
All three architectures will require a new CPU be it i5, i7 or AM3 and as all three architectures take advantage of DDR3 you are most likely going to need a new DDR3 kit, especially if you wish to take advantage of i7's triple channel. As each kit utilises a different memory configuration, the memory results will be a little skewed but for all intents and purposes this will be a stock vs stock vs stock comparison.
 
A new CPU is born in the Intel i5. While specifications are still sketchy at present with the only concrete information available on Intel's blog site. These new processors will be replacing the Core2Quad CPU's and will come in three guises with prices ranging from $200 to around $500 for the range topping model. Unlike the Skt775 models they replace, the new range have 1156 contacts and are incompatible with both Skt775 and Skt1366. This further change in socket size has brought a lot of resentment from the enthusiasts who will now have to purchase yet a new motherboard to take advantage of this new CPU. Those who were waiting for a cheap upgrade path that allows upgradability to i7 will certainly be disappointed as unlike the P45/X48 range of boards which were both Skt775, this is a totally redesigned socket which will not allow cross compatibility.
 
i7 vs i5 rear i7
 
The new i5 CPU is in it's most basic form simply a trimmed down version of it's bigger i7 brother. The triple channel DDR3 controller of the i7 is replaced with the dual channel controller of the i5. Both CPU's still feature 4 x86 cores and both support hyper-threading while retaining 8MB of L3 cache. The i5 will also support Intel's Turboboost Technology which will raise the stock clockspeeds of 2.66GHz, 2.8GHz and 2.93GHz to 3.2, 3.46 and 3.6GHz respectively.
 
i7 i5
 
What is interesting (and this is pure speculation on my part) will be the date by which Intel roll out there new 32nm architecture. Hopefully this will not mean a further Skt change as Intel will be playing into the hands of AMD by upsetting those of us who do not have the access to the GDP of a third world country. With AMD gaining speed it remains to be seen what Intel's long term plans are but if the recent spate of socket changes are anything to go by, Intel would do well to refrain from any further socket refreshes for a while.
 
Well that's a brief overview of the new technology, so without further a do, let's take a look at specifications of the first motherboard we have gotten our grubby little hands on.
 
 
Specification
 
The following specification is subject to change as the board we have at present is an engineering sample and not the full retail product:
 
  Asus P7P55D
CPU
LGA1156 Socket for Intel Lynnfield Processors
 Supports Intel Turbo Boost Technology
Chipset Intel P55 Express Chipset
Memory
4xDIMM, max. 16GB, DDR3 1600(OC)/133/1066MHz, non-ECC,unbuffered memory
Dual Channel memory architecture 
Expansion Slots
2 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (single at x16 or dual at x8/x8 mode)
1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16slots (at x4 mode, 2.5GT/s)
2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 (2.5GT/s)
2 x PCI
Storage
Intel P55 Express Chipset
- 6 x SATA 6G ports  *(Subject to change. See additional comments below)
- Intel Matrix Storage technology supports RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10
LAN
Dual Gigabit LAN controllers
Realtek 8112L/8110SC Gigabit Lan controller featuring AI NET2
Audio
VIA VT1828 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- DTS Surround sensation UltraPC
IEEE 1394
Via 6308P controller supports 2 x IEEE 1394aports (one on the mainboard, one at the backplate)
USB 14 x USB 2.0 ports (6ports on board, 8 ports on the back panel)
Asus Features
MemOK!
Asus EPU
Express Gate
Asus Q-LED (CPU,DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
Asus Q-Slot
Asus Q-DIMM
 
Those keen eyed among you will notice that a major innovation the motherboard has is the introduction SATA 6G.  However, rumours are that Asus, along with other major manufacturers have found problems regarding the on-board Marvel chip (88SE9123) which controls the new format. This problem is serious enough for Asus to pull the chips from all of their motherboards. I'm sure the R&D departments of both Asus and Marvel have been royally slapped around the research labs for this error but it is nice to know the guys have identified the problem now, rather than upon release. The good news is that the problem is NOT with the SATA controller but the legacy PATA functionality and should be rectified by tweaking the new controller. The bad news is that the motherboard I have in my hands is not the full retail offering from Asus and as such there will likely be a few minor tweaks before release, not least the omission SATA 6G.
 
Let's take a look at the motherboard in closer detail...


Asus P7P55D EVO P55 Motherboard - Performance Revealed Page: 2
Asus P7P55D EVO
 
Before I begin taking you through the motherboard I have a confession to make. This board is an engineering sample and as such the P7P55D EVO you see here is actually a very early edition of the retail P7P55D Deluxe. Confused? I know I was.
 
With that out of the way, let's take a look at the first P55 motherboard through our doors. The front of the motherboard is colour coded with Royal blue, sky blue, white and black slots upon a black PCB. The Azure heatsinks also match the overall theme of the motherboard. Perhaps most striking is the omission of the traditional QPI bus/Northbridge area. As explained in the preview of this board, there is no longer a need for this thanks to the redesigned architecture and chipset. That said, everything else appears to be placed well with all the major connections surrounding the leading edges of the motherboard.
 
main board rear
 
The CPU socket is a mass of capacitors and chokes as the P7P55D uses a 12+2 phase design. However, due to the smaller socket size there is still plenty of space in this area. A mass of new CPU coolers will be on the horizon though as the mounting holes are slightly further closer together than Skt1366 but further apart than Skt775. You may be lucky enough to get some redesigned retention clips for your current CPU cooler but for the most part I feel that many people will be purchasing a new cooling setup for this board. Speaking of retention clips, the CPU retention mechanism is redesigned in that both the securing cover and locking arm both open up in the same direction making CPU installation much easier than older socket variants.
 
The new i5 CPU, like the i7 range has the memory controller on board however the i5 differs slightly in that it offers dual channel rather than the Tri-Channel of it's bigger brother. How this affects memory performance we will investigate later in the review but it goes without saying that the bandwidth will certainly be lowered. One plus point though is that far less strain will be placed on the CPU which perhaps will allow for better CPU overclocking. Although the Q-DIMM feature of the memory slots is not welcomed by all I have had no problems using it. With no clip at the lower end of the slot one might think that there is no retention there but memory felt as solid as it does in any normal slot.
 
chokes memory
 
 Perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks that I can see with a board based on the P55 chipset is the restriction Intel have placed on PCI express. With one card in-situ, the full bandwidth will be available but add another and the lanes will be split across both slots in an x8 + x8 configuration. Crossfire is supported and I would be very surprised if Nvidia was not although nobody seems willing to confirm that it will be at present. The good news is nobody is denying it either so read into that what you will. You may notice that Asus have also used a 2oz Copper PCB however this will not be in the final release. Instead Asus will most likely use a variant of there StackCool silkscreen technology, hopefully StackCool 3+ which uses an 8 layer PCB.
 
PCIe chipset
 
As with the ROG range of motherboards, the P7P55D will have on board power (Red) and reset (Green) switches which is now becoming the norm on most motherboards. Next to these switches are 3xUSB headers which will add some serious connectivity to your setup. The SATA debacle was explained previously so I won't bang on about this area as I would fully expect the SATA ports to be re-arranged and colour co-ordinated to reflect the change. SATA II will no doubt be replacing the SATA 6G and as there are few devices that can take advantage of 300MB/s at present this is perhaps not such a major issue at the moment.
 
pwr/rst SATA 3
 
Asus have incorporated the MemOK feature into the EVO which is a welcome addition and should ensure greater compatibility for end users. This feature also doubles as returning memory that has been overclocked to it's stock 'bootable' state. Along with this button but situated above the memory is a dip switch which will allow end users to pump masses of voltage through the memory. While I'm all for new features, I do feel that for the most part these are needless additions as if overclocking the memory is the problem I would hope the BIOS recovery would automatically set in and rather than use an on-board switch, what on earth is wrong with simply setting the value in the BIOS?
 
memok ov dram
 
The I/O backplate area is crammed full of 8x USB ports, 2 Gigabit LAN ports, Firewire, 3.5mm jacks along with Optical and coaxial outputs that provide audio courtesy of the VIA VT8128 8-channel audio Codec. Legacy PS/2 Mouse and keyboard ports are supplied along with a small CMOS clear button should the motherboard not recover from a bad overclock. I'm certainly no audiophile but even I noticed a drop in audio quality going from Realtecs ALC899 chip, common on X58 motherboards to the VIA audio found in this example.
 
IO sinks
 
Here we see the Intel PCH P55 chipset itself. This little sliver of silicon controls the USB, Ethernet, BIOS support, Audio and SATA along with e-SATA and PCI Express x1 ports. This is of course interlinked to the new CPU architecture which has control over PCIe 2.0, and the memory functions of the motherboard. The Chipset heatsink was very small but as this is a pre-release sample I would expect this sink to be enlarged upon final retail release. I would also hope that more thermal paste would be used as the contact area was very poor in our sample.
 
Chip board
 
Overall the board is a very good looking piece of kit and while we have seen the EVO colour scheme in other Asus releases, I must say I do like the look of it. The board itself is well laid out with all the connections found around the leading edge of the board which should make for a relatively straightforward install as well as being perfect for those who obsess over cable tidying.
 
Let's move on to the BIOS section....


Asus P7P55D EVO P55 Motherboard - Performance Revealed Page: 3
BIOS Options
 
The POST screen of the P7P55D Evo is pretty much a mirror of other Asus motherboards with the only difference being the product title. I do wish Asus would put a little more effort into the boot up screen as with their ROG range as surely it cannot be too much to ask for a 16bit image of something a little more interesting. Obviously this is a minor point in the grander scheme of things but there has been very little progress in this area. That said, the EVO does have Express-gate should you wish to use this utility which is a definite step in the right direction.
 
frontpage
 
Heading straight for the jugular, the section we will be concentrating on is the area with which most overclockers will be interested in. Asus call this the AI Tweaker and it is the section which contains all of the overclocking options. If you are not adept to overclocking you can use Asus windows overclocking tool but I would recommend everyone to familiarise themselves with BIOS overclocking as this is so much more in-depth and will give the end user a more stable overclock than any Windows overclocking utility ever could.
 
The DRAM frequency has just 3 dividers which is disappointing but as these frequencies are linked to the Base clock, they can be adjusted accordingly. Phase power can be adjusted to either operate in conjunction with the Asus EPU engine for power saving or, if you are like me and don't give a rats ass about the environment when there is overclocking to be done, you can set the phase power to Xtreme Phase Full Power Mode which will suck as much power from your PSU as your overclock requires.
 
AI Tweaker DRAM Frequency
 
An area which seems to have been given a great deal of attention is the DRAM Timing control area. This section allows the end user to set a plethora of timings. I would like to explain each individual setting but I am not going to lie to you, many of the sub timings are beyond my understanding and as such I would think it's fair to assume that Asus have excelled themselves in this area. If a memory timing is not here then I'll eat my hat. The EVO also provides XMP profiling should your memory kit support this feature. Both Asus XMP and Kingstons XMP were there but sadly during testing, neither profile worked with any success (see test setup section).
 
timings timings cont
 
Since the advent of Skt775 we have seen the introduction of a wide range of overclocking settings. No more is it just a case of ramping up the Vcore in line with the FSB. Things have gotten a whole lot more complex and the EVO is no different. I got a bizarre look from my wife when she asked what I had been doing today. 'I have been tweaking the CPU differential amplitude along with adjusting the CPU clock skew settings'. Granted, I don't think it's something one would say to someone on a hot date but it sounds impressive nonetheless, if somewhat geeky. The CPU differential amplitude allows one to increase the amplitude of a given clock signal which in turn increase their noise immunity. In short what this means is that as clockspeeds increase, so does the noise level. If the noise is too high then this can be mistaken for a clock signal which will therefore result in an error being transmitted. Not good if you are in the middle of a mammoth Prime95 session or worse, Folding@home.
 
differential
 
Any stable overclock will need the correct voltage settings and again, Asus come up trumps with a host of voltage adjustments available that will satisfy even the most ardent of overclockers. These voltages can be increased further by the use of dip switches and jumpers on the motherboard which is a little disappointing as most will use the motherboard in a case and as such will not have these switches available. Nice though safety features are I would like to have full control via the BIOS.
 
 
Last of all we venture out of the AI tuning section to view the hardware monitoring which is fairly basic after seeing the AI tweaker area. Fan speeds can either be set to Full or controlled via Q-Fan which adjusts the fan speed automatically. Only the PSU outputs and CPU voltage are visible in this area but all is not lost as the AI Tweaker section reports the individual voltages for each setting which is a nice feature. Once all of your favoured settings have been input these can be backed up to one of eight profiles, saving both time and effort for future use.
 
temps OC Profile
 
This is not the most complex BIOS I have ever come across and it is a far cry from the ROG series of motherboards but that said it is still thorough enough and contains most settings the average overclocker will ever need.
 
Let's move on to our test setup I will be using today to evaluate the EVO's performance...


Asus P7P55D EVO P55 Motherboard - Performance Revealed Page: 4
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: 
 
Processor: Intel Core i5 750 (2.66Ghz)
Motherboard: Asus P7P55D Evo
Memory: 4GB Kingston Hyper-X DDR3 @ 9-9-9-24 1333Mhz
Graphics Card: NVidia GTX280
Power Supply: Gigabyte Odin 1200W
CPU Cooling: Coolermaster Hyper TX3
Hard Disk: Hitachi Deskstar 7K160 7200rpm 80GB
Graphics Drivers: Geforce 180.60 CUDA
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1
 
During the testing of the setup 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.
 
Socket spacing 

 I do like this new method of CPU retention as it is no longer a fiddly process of installing the CPU. The main plate itself raises along with the locking bar resulting in the whole of the metal frame lifting away from the plastic socket area. With the CPU and heatsink installed you can see from the picture above that space will be very tight should you wish to use a rectangular heatsink in a horizontal configuration. The Coolermaster Hyper TX3 heatsink we used for this review is smaller than the extreme CPU heatsinks we would normally use and I think it is safe to assume that oversized heatsinks such as Thermalrights Ultra extreme would certainly present difficulties.
 
To guarantee a broad range of results to best evaluate the motherboards performance, the following benchmark utilities were used:
 
Synthetic CPU Test
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• PassMark CPU test
• SuperPI 1m, 8m, 32m

Memory Test
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• Everest 4.60

File Compression & Encoding
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• 7-Zip File Compression
• River Past ViMark

Disk I/O Performance
• HDTach 3.0.4.0
• Sisoft Sandra 2009

3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• Cinebench 10
• 3DMark 05
• 3DMark 06
• 3DMark Vantage

3D Games

• Crysis
• Far Cry 2
• Call of Duty 4
Overall System Performance
• PCMark Vantage
 
 
Power Consumption

Power consumption is an aspect often forgotten when it comes to enthusiast motherboards but in today's climate, with rising utility bills special consideration needs to be taken when choosing you components as over a period of time, one components can prove to be much more expensive than another over its lifetime. 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.
 
 
 
Consuming just a minuscule 120W when idle is some achievement for the Asus P7P55 EVO. Figures such as this will please the tree huggers out there but they may well frown when they see that the same setup more or less equals that of the i7 and AMD setups when placed under load conditions.
 
 
Overclocking

Here's a couple of the obligatory CPU-Z screenshots at stock:
 
stock memory
 


Rumours are that Intel have restricted the overclocking on the latest generation of Core series CPU's so I ventured into the overclocking with trepidation. You will have to bear in mind that as the BIOS, motherboard and indeed the CPU are engineering samples and as results of retail offerings may well differ. Along with the Turbo Technology option available in the BIOS, the CPU ratio could be also be set manually to 21x instead of the stock 20x. I disabled the usual garbage that can restrict overclocking in the CPU features and decided to set a limit of 1.4v on the CPU Vcore, which is the same for our i7 testbed. The memory was set to 1333MHz (the maximum allowed) which would increase in line with the base clock of the CPU. All voltage settings were left at Auto apart from Vdimm and Vcore.
 
overclock
 
I am happy to report that in our case at least, no such restrictions were identified. Intel it seems are happy to let the overclockers out there stress there hardware to the maximum and as such I achieved a great overclock of 4.214GHz. This overclock was tested with both SuperPI and multiple loops of 3DMark06 which while not 100% proof of stability does give a fair indication nonetheless. Overclocking the i5 was as easy as overclocking the Core i7 CPU so most, if not all enthusiasts should be able to achieve similar results. CPU temperatures were around the same high levels of Corei7 but it would be unfair of me to compare like for like due to using different CPU coolers.
 
What I did find interesting was that Core i5 topped out at around the same level of Core i7 (C0). This ceiling may well be increased with future revisions of the Lynnfield processor as was the case with the Nehelem D0 which are known to hit in excess of 4.5GHz.
 1800
 
I was intrigued to find out just how far the memory controller on the i5 could be pushed so using a 4GB set of Kingston Hyper X (2000MHz - CAS9) I set about overclocking that as well. While the Evo could not quite manage the 2000MHz SPD, even by using either the EVO's XMP profile or Kingston's, I did manage to get 1800MHz which was stable enough for a few benchmark runs. 2000MHz just flat out refused to post, even with 1.7v (0.05v above the rated voltage) and the timings slackened and 1900MHz began to throw up errors so 1800MHz was the speed I reluctantly settled for.
 
Returning the motherboard back to it's default settings but disabled Intel Speedstep and C1E thereby setting the CPU to it's rated speed of 2.66GHz and the memory set to the maximum 1333Mhz I was eager to press on and find out how the setup compared to both AMD's AM3 and the i5's bigger brother, the Core i7.
 
Let's see how it got on in our suite of benchmarks...


Asus P7P55D EVO P55 Motherboard - Performance Revealed Page: 5
 
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. Each of the benchmarks below were run a total of five times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average being calculated from the remaining three.
 
 
 
 
 


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. Once again, testing was performed a total of 5 times, with an average being calculated from the middle three results.
 
 
 
 

 
 


PassMark is a popular benchmarking suite which test all aspect of PC hardware.The CPU test examines Mathematical operations, compression, encryption, SSE, 3DNow! instructions and more. Each CPU test was performed a total of 5 times, with an average being calculated from the middle three results.
 
 
 
Results Analysis

The EVO sat neatly between the faster Core i7 setup and the slower AM3 testbed. Despite having the same clockspeed the i7 CPU was clearly the better performer throughout. Most unusually, the Core i5 had a very poor showing in the Passmark test finishing well behind the competition. For the most part though the results above show what everyone expected - a little slower than i7.
 
Let's see if the Asus P7P55D EVO can prove itself in our memory benchmarks...


Asus P7P55D EVO P55 Motherboard - Performance Revealed Page: 6


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. Each of the benchmarks below were run a total of five times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average being calculated from the remaining three.

 
 
 
 


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. Each of these benchmarks were performed a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average calculated from the remaining three.
 
 
 
 
 
Results Analysis
 
Sisoft Sandra and Lavalys Everest showed contrasting results here with Sandra placing the i5 setup behind both the i7 and AMD setups. Everest however placed the i5 between the two rigs. One has to bear in mind that the i5 and AM3 test beds were running at 1333MHz  with just 4GB of DDR3 though while the i7 was running 6GB at 1600MHz which will account for the huge difference in performance here. Never the less, if Everest is to be believed, the i5 setup is certainly capable.
 
Let's see how the boards perform in our Hard Drive benchmarks... 


Asus P7P55D EVO P55 Motherboard - Performance Revealed Page: 7
 
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. The "Long bench" was run a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest results being omitted and an average calculated from the remaining 3 results.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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. Each of the benchmarks below were run a total of five times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average being calculated from the remaining three.
 
 
 
 
Results Analysis
 
The Evo's hard disk controller is certainly cause for debate but the results above do not show anything of immediate concern. Sadly, I didn't have the means to test the validity of the problems that have been reportedly encountered with the new controller but the results above show that, apart from being a tiny bit slower in the read department, the Marvel controller is working as it should, at least when compared to the ICH10R and 790FX chipsets.

Let's see how the motherboard performs with our multimedia benchmark suite...


Asus P7P55D EVO P55 Motherboard - Performance Revealed Page: 8


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. Each of the benchmarks below were run a total of five times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average being calculated from the remaining three.
 
 
 

 
 
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 raw video into Windows Media, Quicktime and Gif formats. As always, a total of 5 benchmark runs were performed with the highest and lowest scores removed and an average calculated from the remaining 3 scores.
 
 
 
 

 
 
7-Zip is an open source Winzip-style file compression utility that has the ability to compress and decompress many file formats including its 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.
  
 
 
 
Results Observations

In our tests, Sandra placed the i5 setup at the bottom of the pack in all 3 of it's benchmarks with the i7 and AM3 setups exchanging blows. ViMark was a different story with that benchmark placing the i5 testbed above that of the i7 with the AM3 having the very slight advantage. 7 Zip showed the i5 setup again to be superior to the i5 but overall the above benchmarks place the AM3 setup at the top of the pile with regards to our multimedia and encoding tests.

Let's move on to our synthetic 3D Benchmarks...


Asus P7P55D EVO P55 Motherboard - Performance Revealed Page: 9
 
 
Cinebench 10 is a benchmarking tool based on the powerful 3D software Cinema 4D. The suite uses complex renders to gauge the performance of the entire PC system in both single-core and multi-core modes. Testing was performed a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest results being omitted and an average created from the remaining 3 results.
 
 
 

 
 
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 a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest results being removed and an average calculated from the remaining 3 results.
 
 
 
 
Results Analysis

As expected, the theoretical 8 threads of the i7 showed there strength in Cinebench beating the competition by a fair margin. The i5 did however put up a good fight, beating the AM3 for the most part and closing the gap in the OpenGL test. The Futuremark tests placed the i5 above the i7 setup in both '05 and '06 with Vantage slightly favouring the i7's grunt. Interestingly, the AM3 setup ran out overall winner in the synthetic runs but can it repeat this feat in the real world game tests?
 
Let's find out...


Asus P7P55D EVO P55 Motherboard - Performance Revealed Page: 10
 
Crysis is without doubt one of the most visually stunning and hardware-challenging games to date. By using CrysisBench - a tool developed independently of Crysis - we performed a total of 5 timedemo benchmarks using a GPU-intensive pre-recorded demo. To ensure the most accurate results, the highest and lowest benchmark scores were then removed and an average calculated from the remaining three.
 
 


 
Call of Duty 4 is a stunning DirectX 9.0c based game that really looks awesome and has a very full feature set. With lots of advanced lighting, smoke and water effects, the game has excellent explosions along with fast game play. Using the in-built Call Of Duty features, a 10-minute long game play demo was recorded and replayed on each of the GPU's using the /timedemo command a total of 5 times. The highest and lowest FPS results were then removed, with an average being calculated from the remaining 3 results.
 
 
 


Ubisoft has developed a new engine specifically for Far Cry 2, called Dunia, meaning "world", "earth" or "living" in Parsi. The engine takes advantage of multi-core processors as well as multiple processors and supports DirectX 9 as well as DirectX 10. Running the Far Cry 2 benchmark tool the test was run 5 times with the highest and lowest scores being omitted and the average calculated from the remaining 3.
 
 
 
Results Analysis
 
The AMD setup came top in two of the gaming tests which shows just how far AMD have progressed recently. The Core i5 setup came bottom of the pile in both Call of Duty IV and Far Cry 2 with only a very slim escape in Crysis. Gaming it appears is not the Intel mid range CPU's strongest point.
 
Let's take a look at it's overall performance with a run of PCMark Vantage 64bit... 


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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.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Results Analysis
 
In contrast to the synthetic 3D results, the EVO was placed behind the i7 setup. This was the case for all of the tests run with PCMark Vantage. Also running against what we have shown today was that the AMD setup was positioned in last place in the gaming test where our actual tests placed it in top spot. The encoding tests did however back up what we found in that the AM3 rig is superior at encoding, at least as far as x86 applications are concerned.
 
Let's head over to the conclusion where I attempt to put today's testing into perspective...


Asus P7P55D EVO P55 Motherboard - Performance Revealed Page: 12
Conclusion
 
With every socket change and CPU release come a host of conspiracy theories. Breaking news - 'Intel to restrict overclocking'. I'm sorry to disappoint the rag tag theorists but this is evidently not the case. The i5 CPU is no more restricted than the i7 range. With enthusiasts making up such a small market share it would make little sense for Intel to make such a move. Sure, every penny counts but those who have been in the game long enough will know that major corporations revel in the thought of people who know what they are doing being treat like guinea pigs for their latest hardware. The i5 is (in ES form at least) a great overclocker.
 
So where does this leave the P7P55D EVO? Well as our overclocking results have shown, it's sure to take your Intel i5 CPU to the limit. Overclocking was very easy thanks to the BIOS design and while I would have liked more dividers on the memory allowing us to run faster memory at stock I did achieve some success while adjusting the base clock to compensate. In our tests we showed the CPU to reach a mammoth 4.21GHz which is respectable whichever way you look at it and no doubt as the BIOS is refined with better options and overall improvements I'm sure this figure could be increased.
 
The layout of the motherboard is excellent with all the right parts in the right places. The aesthetics of the board are great and are certainly a step in the right direction. Unfortunately I could not assess the packaging as the motherboard arrived bare in a plain cardboard box without so much as a motherboard manual at my disposal so please forgive me if I have missed a key feature of the motherboard.
 
The i5 range of CPU's is a strange move for Intel as it is clearly not as powerful as the i7 range and offers nothing in terms of innovation to tempt users of i7 away from the behemoth systems, nor does it obliterate AMD's AM3. The only saving grace would be the cost but I would be very surprised if Intel undercut AMD's current pricing. Current Core2 users though may well feel the time is right to make the upgrade and I can wholeheartedly recommend the Asus P7P55 Evo as the foundation of any potential i5 setup. The board, even in ES form was stable as a rock, clocks extremely well, looks cool (literally), it's power efficient and should Asus/Marvel sort out the HD controller issues then the EVO can hold it's head up high, worthy for consideration as a next generation platform.
 
The Good
- Great looking piece of kit
- Excellent overclocking
- Well structured BIOS
- Memory subtimings
- 12+2 Phase power design
- BIOS recovery from bad overclock
 
The Mediocre
- Limited memory ratios
- 8x + 8x Crossfire capability
- Memory close to CPU socket
- Unable to clock memory to rated speed
 
The Bad
- Chipset heatsink (expected to be changed for retail though)
 
 
 
Thanks to Asus for allowing us to sample such an early example of their motherboard. Discuss in our forums.