|ASUS P7H55D-M EVO LGA1156 Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Wednesday, 24 February 2010|
Page 6 of 15
P7H55D-M EVO Detailed Features
The ASUS P7H55D-M EVO motherboard benefits from ASUS' "Hybrid design" features of Hybrid OS and Hybrid Phase. The Hybrid OS feature refers to the small "ASUS Express Gate" ROM-hosted OS that quickly allows the user to quickly boot into a minimal OS with simplified browser, chat, and e-mail features. Hybrid Phase refers to ASUS' "8+3 power phase" design. This feature actively adjusts the voltages and power phases used for the CPU, chipset, RAM, HDD, and fans to achieve lower power draw with higher efficiency, a feat made possible by ASUS' custom "EPU-6 Engine" chip.
The CPU area is uncluttered and the low-profile heat sinks on the MOSFETs won't interfere with most coolers. ASUS uses ferrite chokes and high-quality Japanese solid capacitors for the CPU's power circuitry.
While the Intel H55 Platform Controller Hub is a "mainstream" chipset, ASUS loads their H55 board with overclocking and enthusiast features. First, there's the 8-pin EPS-12V power connector, to ensure the processor can get enough power for high overclocks. Next, the "MemOK!" button, which resets the memory timings to known good values without changing other BIOS settings— helpful when you've pushed your memory just a bit too far. The only other enthusiast features I would have liked to see included would be on-board power and reset switches, and a "Clear CMOS" switch rather than a jumper.
ASUS provides 6 SATA 3G ports on the P7H55D-M EVO. The H55 doesn't support RAID, and normally doesn't support AHCI modes for your hard drives, but ASUS, working closely with Intel, has managed to implement AHCI on this board anyway, so you can turn this mode on in the BIOS and gain the advantages of hot swapping and native command queuing. A Marvell 88SE6111 controller chip provides a legacy PATA-style IDE port and the back panel E-SATA port, while a VIA 6315N IEEE-1394 controller supports both an internal FireWire 400 port as well as a back panel connector.
Although the SATA ports are vertical, rather than the increasingly-common 90-degree angle, there's plenty of clearance even with a large graphics card installed.
While the H55 chipset has both integrated "Intel High Definition Audio" and a gigabit Ethernet controller, ASUS has opted to use a Realtek 8112L Ethernet chip and a Realtek HD 8-channel audio chip as well, with both wired and optical S/PDIF outputs. The 8112L is near the NEC D720200 USB 3.0 controller. The NEC USB controller is designed to interface to a PCI-E lane for its connection to the rest of the system, and ASUS' implementation uses a PCI-E lane from the Clarkdale processor, providing superior USB 3.0 performance over other H5x motherboards, which use a PCI-E lane from the H55 chip. However, the P7H55D-M EVO will drop back to using an H55 PCI-E lane to support the D720200 USB 3.0 controller if you have a separate graphics card, since in that case the processor's PCI-E lanes will be used to support the graphics card.
Enthusiasts sneer at Intel's GMA-based integrated graphics, and rightly so. But for everything except gaming, it's a nice chip, able to decode Blu-Ray content and handle High Definition Content Protection (HDCP) with little load on the CPU, and run large monitors at high resolutions. I successfully ran two monitors simultaneously, a 1920x1200 screen using VGA and a 1680x1050 screen using DVI, from the H55 EVO's built-in video outputs. Windows 7's Aero effects were just as smooth and pretty as they are on any other system, and the GMA offers display options that would be very useful for a home theater setup, as shown below. Note, though, that you cannot use the integrated video in conjunction with a separate graphics card: plugging a graphics card into the motherboard disables the iGPU.
With its high-quality components and overclocking features, ASUS is obviously aiming this board at the enthusiast market. Let's see how well it does.