Asus P5E3 Premium X48 DDR3 Motherboard
On most of Asus' previous motherboards, the more "advanced" BIOS options have been left for their top end Republic Of Gamers motherboards. However, with the P5E3 Premium featuring some impressive hardware upgrades that even the ROG boards can't match, let's take a look at what the BIOS has to offer.
Skipping past the boring Hard Disk/IRQ sections of the BIOS and straight into the good stuff, we can see that all of the overclocking options on the P5E3 Deluxe are held under a single header called "AI Tweaker". The top few lines of this section cover areas such as CPU Ratio, FSB Strap, FSB frequency, PCIE Frequency and DRAM Frequency all of which can be adjusted either by directly keying in the values or using the +/- keys to toggle through each option. Preparations have been made for the new Intel Penryn chips with the CPU Ratio setting supporting 0.5 multipliers. Additionally, the FSB Frequency can be set at anything up to 800mhz - but you can carry on dreaming if you think you'll get anywhere near that!
Moving down the page (and its a bloody long one) takes us to the Memory options. While a lot of Asus' previous non-ROG motherboards only provided users with a handful of the most basic memory timings, the P5E3 Premium takes things to the other end of the spectrum by literally bombarding you with a whole host of intriguing settings that will more than likely have even the most hardened enthusiasts reaching for the how-to guides.
However, to be fair on Asus, a large number of the options are briefly explained over on the right-side of the screen with some basic pointers as to whether the option is likely to improve system performance or stability when overclocking.
Voltage options is yet another area where some of Asus' non-ROG boards suffered - but not any more! Once again Asus have tipped the scales in totally the opposite direction by not only providing a massive (and potentially dangerous) range of voltage options, but also by allowing the user to manually type in the voltage they require. However, don't be fooled - while the BIOS does allow you to type in exactly what voltage you require, it will always round it up/down to the nearest selectable option. Some of the voltage ranges can be seen below:
CPU Voltage: 0.85000v - 2.1000v (0.00625v steps)
CPU PLL Voltage: 1.50v - 2.78v (0.02v steps)
FSB Termination Voltage: 1.20v - 1.50v (0.02v steps)
DRAM Voltage: 1.50v - 2.78v (0.02v steps)
NB Voltage: 1.25v - 2.21v (0.02v steps)
SB Voltage: 1.05v - 1.20v (0.15v steps)
Clock Overcharging Voltage: 0.70v - 1.00v (0.10v steps)
While most motherboard manufacturers will have you reaching for the bootable floppy disks in order to update your BIOS, Asus have included their extremely easy to use EZ Flash 2 utility on the P5E3 Premium. Simply copy the BIOS binary file to a floppy disk, USB stick or FAT32 hard disk and perform the upgrade from within the BIOS. It really couldn't be easier.
Similarly, the Asus O.C Profile utility allows users to save their current BIOS settings to an external storage device. Considering the sheer volume of options available in the P5E3 BIOS, this will undoubtedly prove to be a massive time saver for restoring your previous BIOS settings after a CMOS battery failure or other fault
As we've already mentioned, the Asus Express Gate is essentially a bootable USB memory stick soldered to the motherboard. During the startup of the P5E3 Express, you are given a default of 5 seconds to choose if you'd like to boot into the Express Gate environment for quick access to applications such as Skype or a Firefox-like web browser.
While some people will probably find this handy, I cant help but feel that this feature could have been put to much better use with the inclusion of some stability testing tools (Prime95, OCCT, Memtest...etc) to avoid the need to boot into Windows every time you want to test a new overclock setting.
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