FIRST LOOK: Asus P5AD2-E - 1066FSB & DDR2-711by Wesley Fink on November 29, 2004 12:01 AM EST
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When Intel introduced the new Socket 775 architecture in late June, two new chipsets were launched to drive the new 775 Prescotts. The 915 was targeted at mainstream users, and the more expensive 925X was to drive the enthusiast level boards. In our August roundup of all the top 925X motherboards, the Asus P5AD2 Premium received our Gold Editors Choice as top Intel motherboard. It is worth looking back at Intel 925X Roundup: Creative Engineering 101 to see the challenges faced by board makers. Most were trying to find creative ways to circumvent design limitations for the 925x/915, which limited overclocking to about 10%. Asus had the most successful solution, packaged in an incredibly full-featured board whose only drawback was the very high price compared to the competition.
Fast forward 3 months and the Enthusiast seems to be moving in large numbers to the AMD Athlon 64 platform, so Intel has souped-up the 925X/775 to stop the bleeding. We first looked at the new 925XE in Pentium 4 3.46 Extreme Edition and 925XE: 1066MHz FSB Support is Here. We found that the 1066 speed bump was not all we expected, since there was very little improvement in performance compared to the 800FSB 925X. Perhaps even more disappointing was the fact that the only 1066 CPU for some time to come was a 3.46GHz P4EE based on the Gallatin core and the 130nm process. There were no announced Prescott 90nm cores with huge L2 caches running at 1066 in the near future, and there would not be a 4.0GHz Prescott either. For the immediate future, the only official support for 1066FSB would come with the $1050 3.46EE and a to-be-announced 3.73GHz P4EE with the multiplier boosted from 13 to 14.
This is not meant to be a depressing scenario of the current state of Intel, but it would not really be meaningful to look at the new Asus P5AD2-E in isolation. Those looking for the absolute fastest performance should look at Athlon 64 solutions. However, the P5AD2 was and is a brilliant motherboard design, and the -E version should take it even further. It is reasonable to expect the P5AD2-E to take you to the highest levels of Pentium 4 performance.