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.
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.
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).
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, [email protected]
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.
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...