Asus P5Q Deluxe with Intel P45 chipset review

£120
Price when reviewed

Intel hasn’t even officially announced its new P45 chipset yet, but Taiwanese manufacturer Asus has already started shipping its first range of P45 motherboards. We looked at the P5Q Deluxe, though there are cheaper and more expensive options.

As the name suggests, the P45 is a progression from the P35 chipset – and a minor one at that. The significant difference is support for Intel’s 45nm processors, but that’s no big deal as almost all modern P35 boards are manufacturer-tweaked to support the newer CPUs already. There’s also support for PCI Express 2.0, doubling the bandwidth of the original PCI Express specification, which Intel previously only offered in its X38 chipset.

From Asus’ point of view, however, the P45’s most interesting feature is its ability, like the P35, to support either DDR2 or DDR3 RAM, and the P5Q series includes both DDR2 and DDR3 boards. Officially, the P45 only supports DDR3 at up to 1,066MHz, but by sharpening up the electronics, Asus has persuaded the chipset to support DDR3 frequencies up to 1,600MHz as well.

Moving away from the particulars of the P45 chipset, the P5Q Deluxe is a capable upper-mid-range board. It offers three PCI Express 16x slots, with CrossFire X support for up to four ATi GPUs, and four DIMM slots which, on this model, support DDR2 at up to 1,200MHz. As befits its “deluxe” nomenclature, there’s also eSATA, and FireWire, and even onboard power and reset buttons – though there’s no button to clear the CMOS, nor a POST display, as with Asus’ enthusiast boards.

The P5Q Deluxe is joined by six other boards in the P5 range, four supporting DDR2 and two using DDR3. Different models have different PCI Express 16x support, from the single slot of the P5Q and P5C up to the P5Q Premium with four full-speed slots.

The high-end boards, including the Deluxe, feature Asus’ new 16-phase power supply and management system, which is promised to increase power efficiency, and an onboard solid state drive containing the ExpressGate micro-OS, which lets you boot into a Linux-based internet environment in a matter of seconds. Low-end models will feature eight-phase power, and a version of ExpressGate that can be installed on the user’s hard drive, offering the same features but a slower boot time.

All models also feature Asus’ “Drive Xpert” system, which provides RAID mirroring or striping in a way that’s transparent to the OS, and which can be set up from within an onboard GUI.

At £104, the P5Q Deluxe isn’t cheap, but it’s long on features and not out of line with comparably-specified boards using older chipsets. For those on a tighter budget, the plain old P5Q is also starting to pop up at retail for around £75 exc VAT, although it’s a more basic board.

For the average user, though, there’s little reason to jump at the P45 rather than sticking with its predecessors, so weigh up all options before you buy.

Details

Motherboard form factor ATX
Motherboard integrated graphics no

Compatability

Processor/platform brand (manufacturer) Intel
Processor socket LGA 775
Motherboard form factor ATX
Memory type DDR2, DDR3
Multi-GPU support yes

Controllers

Motherboard chipset Intel P45
Number of Ethernet adapters 2
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
Graphics chipset N/A
Audio chipset ADI AD2000B

Onboard Connectors

CPU power connector type 8-pin
Main power connector ATX 24-pin
Memory sockets total 4
Internal SATA connectors 8
Internal PATA connectors 1
Internal floppy connectors 1
Conventional PCI slots total 2
PCI-E x16 slots total 3
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots total 1

Rear ports

PS/2 connectors 1
USB ports (downstream) 6
FireWire ports 1
eSATA ports 1
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 1
3.5mm audio jacks 6
Parallel ports 0
9-pin serial ports 0
Extra port backplane bracket ports 0

Diagnostics and tweaking

Motherboard onboard power switch? yes
Motherboard onboard reset switch? yes

Accessories

SATA cables supplied 8
IDE cables supplied 1
Floppy cables supplied 1

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