ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe (Intel P45) - Ready for Action
The last Intel board we reviewed from ASUS, the X38 based P5E3 Deluxe came with an innovative onboard Linux module, Express Gate and its Energy Processing Unit (EPU) chipset that reduced power consumption and lowered operating temperatures. These features remain on the new P5Q3 Deluxe, together which is likely to make this the flagship product from the company. Since we have already talked about these features before, you can refer to our ASUS P5E3 review for that information. What's new on the P5Q3, besides its exhaustive feature list is its new Memory OC Charger feature. According to the concise and not very useful description of this feature in the BIOS, it apparently enhances DRAM overclocking ability.
While this is a simple Enable/Disable/Auto choice in the BIOS, according to ASUS, the Memory OC Charger represents many man hours tweaking the internal settings of the board in order to improve the overclocking of the memory modules. However, ASUS emphasized that it would not magically improve any memory modules, and presently, they have a short list of validated memory modules from OCZ, Corsair and Kingston (both DDR2 and DDR3) that works best with the Memory OC Charger. We'll have a short section on our overclocking experience with it enabled later.
As for the other features on this P45 board, you'll probably know that it supports all current LGA 775 processors from Intel, from the 90nm down to the recent 45nm versions. We should also mention that the P45 chipset itself is manufactured on 65nm, down from 90nm. Both dual and quad-core processors are supported, with the FSB support officially at 1333MHz. The ASUS P5Q3 is a DDR3 version (up to 1333MHz only), though ASUS will have DDR2 variants too. Finally, there is PCI Express 2.0 support for the main pair of PCIe 2.0 graphics card slots on the board, though there's only a single x16 slot. These can be automatically split into a pair of x8 lanes for CrossFireX purposes. The last PCIe graphics slot rides off the ICH10R Southbridge chip that's still running on the first generation of PCI Express (not that it matters a lot in real usage anyway), but remember that its use will disable the onboard PCIe x1 slots as there's limited PCIe lanes supplied by the Southbridge.
When it comes to storage and connectivity, the ASUS P5Q3 supports up to eight SATA 3.0Gbps ports, with an external SATA port behind and up to two FireWire ports courtesy of its agere chipset. There's the usual excessive number of USB 2.0 ports, with the board having up to ten such ports. Given that there's only one PS/2 port, these USB ports should come in handy. Just like the ASUS P5E3, there are dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, along with a Draft-N capable Wi-Fi module (the retail will have the included dual antennas). Surprisingly, there seems to be a new audio CODEC that ASUS is using from Analog Devices. This AD2000BX CODEC is not listed on the manufacturer's website yet, but you can probably expect 8-channel high definition audio using either the standard 6 port audio jacks, or optical/coaxial output.
The layout of the ASUS P5Q3 is effectively the same as the P5E3, which is to say, it's generally very good. There were no issues with removing memory modules with the graphics card installed. With the exception of a SATA port that could be blocked in the case of a long graphics card, the other SATA and IDE ports were all tucked neatly out of the way. There is also ample space for the CPU heatsink for installation.