Features of the ASUS P5AD2-E Premium
- Package and Contents
With the name Premium in the product name, you would expect to have not only a fantastic motherboard but a great feature bundle, and ASUS here doesn't disappoint. Inside the box ASUS supplies four user manuals. One is for the board that covers the entire P5AD2-E series boards, a User manual for the WiFi controller, one for the ITE IDE RAID controller and one for the Silicon Image SATA controller. Along with this is a huge cable bundle - 10 SATA cables are included, two 2 way Serial ATA HDD power converters, three IDE cables, a Omni Directional Antenna, a 2 port internal to External SATA bracket, I/O shield and your driver CD.
That's not quite all. You also get a bracket with an Ethernet port and two Firewire-B ports, a Game Port with COM port and an additional SPDIF bracket for SPDIF input.
- The Motherboard
Now we get to the board itself. Design wise it is identical to the previously reviewed ASUS P5AD2 board and this is because the exact same PCB is used. The Intel I925XE chipset is pin compatible with the I925X, reducing some of the costs to third party manufacturers when it comes to board design, only a BIOS update is needed for the use of the dividers at 1066FSB.
Expansion slots match the P5AD2 with one PCI Express x16 slot for graphics cards, two PCI Express x1 slots for the upcoming PCI Express peripherals and three PCI slots to give compatibility with your currently owned PCI devices - however, with all the add-ons, I doubt you will really need the extra slots.
Layout wise, ASUS has done a fantastic job getting all the major bulky cables out of the way. The new 24 pin ATX cable is located behind the DIMM sockets with the Southbridge controller IDE and FDD port. The 4 pin power connector is located at the upper left of the board behind the PS/2 ports, well out of the way of the CPU heatsink and fan assembly. ASUS uses a 4 phase voltage regulation system with what ASUS calls "Stack Cool" - it is a large gold plated heatsink with a shroud placed on the mosfets in order to reduce the amount of heat generated. On the base of the board, a large metal plate is placed in order to remove any heat generated by the underside of the mosfets.
In looks and features, the I925XE is very much the same chipset. The size of the die is identical and so is the packaging. The only difference is the 1066FSB support and the removal of the ECC memory support, as this chipset is not intended to be placed in server or workstation environments.
ASUS has elected to go for a passive cooled board, in order to reduce the amount of noise generated, as quiet is now the big thing in PC's. This comes as a pleasure on the ears, as there are no fans at all. This in itself did give the board a good tick of approval for the quite PC but will this affect overclocking?
The I925XE is fully compatible with the ICH6 series I/O Controller Hub. The ICH6R is used on the P5AD2-E to give four SATA ports supporting RAID functions as well as Intel's new Matrix RAID system which on just two disks provides both RAID 0 and RAID 1, a definite bonus. Along with this you get a total of three PCI Express x1 lanes, six PCI masters, Azalia HD audio, one IDE controller port as well as the LPC controller.
While you have four SATA ports via the Southbridge supporting RAID, it still seems that ASUS wants to add more. The Silicon Image Sil3114 PCI to SATA controller chip is added to give four extra SATA ports with RAID and Hot Plug support. Added to this, the ITE two channel IDE RAID controller chip is added to give two extra IDE ports, supporting four IDE drives with RAID.
Firewire is definitely the external bus of preference amongst the hardware community. Firewire offers 400mbps of dedicated bandwidth to the devices on its bus. Like USB, it is a serial technology, it can be used with hubs to increase the mount of ports, but unlike USB, Firewire can be daisy chained. While Firewire is 80mbps behind USB2.0, Firewire-B has now come out in order to take the challenge to the USB standard. Firewire-B offers 800mbps to any dedicated Firewire-B device, doubling the bandwidth and ASUS has used the new Texas Instruments 2 chip Firewire-B to take advantage of this. The Large chip at the bottom provides Firewire-A backwards compatibility, while the smaller chip is the Firewire-B controller chip.
ASUS has also gone all out when it comes to the Ethernet capabilities of the board. The Marvell Yukon 8310 Dual Gigabit Ethernet controller chip is added to give two Gigabit Ethernet ports. This chip is connected to two of the PCI Express x1 buses to allow the chip up to 1GB/s bandwidth. One of the ports are located on the back, the other is on an expansion bracket with the Firewire-B ports.
While you may think two Gigabit ports would be good enough Ethernet capabilities, ASUS seems to think we need more, this time in the form of a Wireless-G Network controller. The Marvell 8812 Wireless Ethernet controller is added for 54mbps wireless networking. ASUS also includes a software access point software in order to turn your PC into a bridge to act as an Access Point.
With the inclusion of dividers on the I925XE chipset, you would expect to see some better overclocking results with this board. When at 266MHz FSB, dividers kick in to return the PCI Express to 100MHz, the PCI Bus to 33MHz, SATA clock to 100MHz and the DMI link to 500MHz. We have seen the ASUS P5AD2 original make the 266MHz mark without proper dividers.
This time we are please to say that we managed to hit 326MHz without any problems with the board's stability. Although running above this speed we would see SATA drives start to disappear on reboots, so we set the bar at 326MHz.
As for the BIOS overclocking options, the exact same settings are included in the P5ADS-E as the original P5AD2.
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