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The Next Gen. P55 Motherboards (SATA 6Gbit/s and USB 3.0)

The Next Gen. P55 Motherboards (SATA 6Gbit/s and USB 3.0)



The ASUS P7P55D-E Premium

The ASUS P7P55D-E Premium

As the flagship of ASUS' P7P55D series, the Premium is the most costly and feature packed. In some ways, it rivals ASUS' Republic of Gamer (ROG) P55 offerings but with less of a focus on the overclocking aspect (don't worry, it still has plenty). The layout of course is quite similar to the earlier version that was released without SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0. You can expect the basic features of the P55 chipset to be present, along with extras like IDE support (no floppy however). Other ASUS characteristics like Express Gate is also present and the unique retention clip mechanisms for the graphics and DIMM slots.

While there's no floppy, ASUS has gone back to supporting two PS/2 ports after a period when we only saw a single PS/2 port on quite a few of its boards. There's no eSATA/USB combo port that's popular among top board models. In fact there's no eSATA support on this board at all, which is not that much of a loss since USB 3.0 exceeds it in transfer rate and would be more ubiquitous than eSATA in time to come. The Clear CMOS button is another feature that we expect on a top motherboard and it's here, along with dual Gigabit LAN and both coaxial and optical S/PDIF outputs.

Evidently, ASUS had to juggle the SATA ports around, with two of the normal SATA 3Gbps shunted to the area with USB headers to accommodate the newer SATA 6Gbps ones. The bridge chip is located near the PCIe x1 slots which it's using to provide the bandwidth for the SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 controllers. Meanwhile, the NEC USB 3.0 controller is found near the rear I/O panel where the actual ports are.

As usual, there are four DDR3 DIMM slots in dual-channel mode. Memory compatibility is something ASUS is serious about recently and its MemOK! feature that we saw on previous ASUS boards makes an appearance here too. This, together with the DRAM LED, will be useful when troubleshooting memory issues.

The expansion slots are arranged quite differently from most motherboards, no doubt due to the bridge chip. At least we don't see any issues with dual-slot graphics cards and the area was free of interference except possibly if one is trying to remove the onboard battery for some reason.

We have seen more crowded designs near the CPU socket so the rather minimal heatsinks on this board means ample space for your CPU cooler. ASUS has greatly increased the number of ferrite core chokes around the socket to boost the signal quality, reduce the work load on each of them and better regulate the power delivery to the processor and memory. With a '32-phase' power delivery design to the processor and three more power phases for the memory, this is certainly a feature that motherboard vendors are competing fiercely over. As part of its hybrid power design, this board also comes with ASUS' T.Probe, a chip that actively monitors and regulates the power load so that temperature and power efficiency is optimal.

Moving on to the usual ASUS frills, we find some familiar ones, like these overvoltage switches which will increase the upper limit on voltage settings available in the BIOS. Personally, we feel this is not very useful and could be done simply by having warnings in the BIOS instead of hardware switches. One of the newer ASUS features however is the TurboV Remote. Technically, it's not like the usual remote, since it has a cable that must be connected to a header on the motherboard. This is basically another way to tweak your motherboard settings. It could prove useful to some who have the need to tweak their systems while in the midst of a benchmark or application but like some of ASUS' innovations, it's handy only to a niche group.