|ASUS P5Q3 LGA775 Intel P45 ATX Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Mathew Williams|
|Monday, 23 February 2009|
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ASUS P5Q3 Detailed Features
Aside from the expected motherboard specifications, ASUS also offers several features unique to their motherboards and the P5Q family. A full list of features can be found at the beginning of this article, but I would like to highlight a few of the major ones. The ASUS P5Q3 motherboard features an active power savings system, a dedicated RAID controller, and even its own operating system. The BIOS is another strength of the P5Q3, offering numerous settings and overclocking options.
The ASUS Energy Processing Unit is actually a hardware based controller that monitors system load and adjusts various power settings to maximize efficiency. The entire system is controlled through a software interface, allowing the user to customize each setting and power profile. For brevity's sake, I won't spend a whole lot of time discussing the history and advanced specifications of the EPU, but for those interested, ASUS has a great flash presentation on their website. What I will mention, is that the system on the ASUS P5Q3 actually works. Although, as you'll see in our power consumption benchmark, certain setting just aren't worth the trouble for the average home user.
Another useful feature found on the P5Q3 is ASUS' Drive Xpert hardware. It is essentially an easy to use RAID controller based on a JMicron JMB322 chipset with two RAID option: striping (RAID 0) and mirroring (RAID 1). What sets this apart from other RAID controllers is ASUS' simplified management software. Beginning with installation, you simply plug two hard-drives into the white and orange SATA ports of the motherboard. At that point, you can set up the array through the BIOS or the user friendly GUI provided by ASUS. The GUI offers users the choice between redundancy or enhanced speed and then takes care of the rest. For the average user, this system makes it incredibly easy to benefit from RAID, without the complicated setup. Enthusiasts, however, may want to stick with the RAID controller built in the ICH10R southbridge of the P5Q3 or, for better performance, a dedicated add-in card.
While several other motherboard manufacturers have their own power regulation and RAID options, ASUS is one of the few to offer a complete Linux-based operating system. Of course, there are countless free Linux distributions out there, but what makes this one particularly unique is that on the ASUS P5Q3 it boots in only 5 seconds. The installer also makes it easy to run it along side Windows or even on a USB drive. Once booted, the user has access to a web browser, media applications, and chat software. The idea is that you can use the Express Gate OS for basic office/internet related tasks without having to boot into a full OS. My needs tend to require a full operating system, so for the most part I left it disabled. Still, I can definitely appreciate its usefulness and appeal for less demanding consumers.
Rounding out our look at the features of the ASUS P5Q3 motherboard is the BIOS. In a strict sense, the BIOS is not so much a feature as it is a requirement of any motherboard. However, manufacturers can enhance the BIOS by providing users with more control over the motherboard settings. This is particularly important when it comes to overclocking. On the P5Q3, these overclocking settings can be found in the AI Tweaker tab. In the screenshots above and below, it's clear that the user has full control over the FSB, memory speed and timings, and an array of voltage adjustments.
Equally important, are the automatic settings. For those unfamiliar with building a computer, a motherboard should also provide good defaults and automatic settings. In my testing of the P5Q3, it properly recognized all of my hardware using the Auto selection. Although, as is typical of most motherboards, the Auto settings did not offer the same level of performance as the custom changes I made.