Asus P5E-VM HDMI review

Price when reviewed

The new Asus P5E-VM HDMI microATX motherboard comes packaged with a hefty feature list that will have home- entertainment buffs drooling. Complete with HDMI output, integrated graphics that support DirectX 10 and capacity for 8GB of RAM, it’s a formidable choice for a media-centre PC.

Asus P5E-VM HDMI review

Processor support comes in the shape of Socket 775, which supports Intel’s Core 2 Duo and Quad processors right down to Pentium 4 and D models. One of the big selling points, though, is compatibility with the Penryn range of 45nm processors on a 1,333MHz front side bus, which comes courtesy of Intel’s G35 chipset.

The chipset also includes Intel’s latest X3500 graphics, which is the first integrated unit to support DirectX 10, but don’t expect it to have you racing through the latest games. Our Call of Duty 2 test refused to run, so we tried Stalker instead and this only managed single-figure frame rates.

The backplate features a decent set of ports, including six USB and the all-important HDMI connection, and the Asus can swallow up to 8GB of Dual Channel 800MHz DDR2 RAM. There are six SATA slots on the board, too, and support for RAID0, 1, 5 and 10.

This proliferation of features does mean the microATX form factor can be a problem. The heatsink covering the north bridge is large and can interfere with processor heatsink installation. The main power cable and IDE interface are pretty close together, too, so the initial setup can be aggravating if you’re working in a confined space.

The Asus utilities are something of a mixed bag, too: there’s Probe II, for monitoring, which is getting long in the tooth now, and the more competent AI Suite for simple overclocking.

But there’s plenty to like about this Asus board. The latest Intel processors are supported, the integrated graphics are good, plus the six SATA ports provide plenty of storage potential. And don’t forget the HDMI output, which will allow you to make the most of your HDTV, and the small form factor, which confirms it as an ideal base board for a media-centre PC.

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