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Test Setup

Standard Test Bed
Performance Test Configuration
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
(2.4GHz, 4MB Unified Cache)
RAM: OCZ Flex XLC (2x1GB), 2.30V
(Micron Memory Chips)
Hard Drive: Western Digital 150GB 10,000RPM SATA 16MB Buffer
Seagate 750GB 7200.10 7200RPM SATA 16MB Buffer
System Platform Drivers: Intel - 8.1.1.1010
NVIDIA - 9.35, 8.26
ATI - 6.10
Video Cards: 1 x MSI X1950XTX , 2 x MSI 8800GTX for SLI testing
Video Drivers: ATI Catalyst 6.11, NVIDIA 97.44 for SLI Testing
CPU Cooling: Scythe Infinity
Power Supply: OCZ GameXstream 700W
Optical Drive: Sony 18X AW-Q170A-B2, Plextor PX-B900A
Case: Cooler Master CM Stacker 830
Motherboards: ASUS Striker Extreme (NVIDIA 680i) - BIOS 0505
ASUS P5N-E SLI (NVIDIA 650i) - BIOS 0101
ASUS P5B-E (Intel P965) - BIOS 0601
DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G (AMD RD600) - BIOS 12/07
Intel D975XBX2 (Intel 975X) - BIOS 2333
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2
.

A 2GB memory configuration is now standard in the AnandTech test bed as most enthusiasts are currently purchasing this amount of memory. Our choice of high-end OCZ Flex XLC memory from OCZ offered a very wide range of memory settings during our stock and overclocked test runs. We also utilized our Corsair XMS2 Dominator (Twin2x2048-9136C5D) memory on this board to verify DDR2-1066 compatibility with another memory type. We are currently testing several other memory modules ranging from TwinMOS DDR2-800 down to A-DATA DDR2-533 for compatibility and performance benchmarks. Our memory timings are set based upon determining the best memory bandwidth via MemTest 86 and test application results for each board. This includes optimizing the memory sub-timings to ensure each board performs at its absolute best.

We are utilizing the MSI X1950XTX video card to ensure our 1280x1024 resolutions are not completely GPU bound for our motherboard test results. We did find in testing that applying a 4xAA/8xAF setting in most of today's latest games created a situation where the performance of the system starts becoming GPU limited. Our video tests are run at 1280x1024 resolution for this article at High Quality settings. We also tested at 1600x1200 4xAA/8xAF for our NVIDIA SLI results on the two NVIDIA based boards. Although not reported, we also completed the same SLI tests at 1920x1200 4xAA/8xAF but did not report the scores as the performance delta between each board was the same as the 1600x1200 results.

All of our tests are run in an enclosed case with a dual optical/hard drive setup to reflect a moderately loaded system platform. Windows XP Pro SP2 is fully updated and we load a clean drive image for each system to ensure driver conflicts are kept to a minimum.

Overclocking

ASUS P5N-E SLI
Overclocking Testbed
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
Dual Core, 2.4GHz, 4MB Unified Cache
1066FSB, 7x Multiplier
CPU Voltage: 1.52500V (default 1.3250V)
Cooling: Scythe Infinity Air Cooling
Power Supply: OCZ GameXStream 700W
Memory: OCZ Flex XLC (2x1GB) (Micron Memory Chips)
Video Cards: 1 x MSI X1950XTX , 2 x MSI 8800GTX for SLI
Hard Drive: Western Digital 150GB 10,000RPM SATA 16MB Buffer
Seagate 750GB 7200.10 7200RPM SATA 16MB Buffer
Case: Cooler Master CM Stacker 830
Maximum CPU OC: 402x9 (4-4-4-12 1T, 804MHz, 2.34V), CPU 1.52500V
3622MHz (+51%)
Maximum FSB OC: 502x7 (4-4-4-12 2T, 804MHz, 2.34V), CPU 1.50000V
3519MHz (+89% FSB)
.


We were easily able to reach a final benchmark stable setting of 9x402 FSB resulting in a clock speed of 3622MHz. The board was capable of running at 9x409 FSB but would consistently fail several of our game benchmarks. We attributed this overclock limit to the lack of proper cooling for our MCP and SPP at the voltages we set. We added additional fan cooling along with proper heatsink paste to the SPP and a small passive heatsink to the MCP unit and reached 9x417 before stability became an issue again. We believe this is near the limit of the CPU/chipset combination. Vdroop was terrible on this board during overclocking with an average drop of .06 ~.09V during load testing.



We operated our memory at 4-4-4-12 1T with all sub-timings set at Auto for a final speed of 804MHz. We could not get the board stable with CAS 3 and 1T settings at DDR2-800. We were able to finally reach DDR2-1066 at 5-6-6-24 2T in a stable manner but the memory latencies were so lax that performance actually decreased in most benchmarks. The BIOS has the majority of memory sub-timings set very tight along with the SPP timings. We found this to be our issue with trying to operate memory at the higher speeds or utilizing lower latency settings. However, we have found this board performed extremely well with the 4-4-4-12 1T settings due to the aggressive sub-timings. We were able to run 4-4-4-12 2T timings up to around DDR2-880 but had to switch to 5-5-5-15 2T timings up to DDR2-1000, anything over that required very loose timings across all memory settings for stability.


We dropped the multiplier on our E6600 to seven and were able to reach 502 FSB without an issue. We were able to enter XP at 7x509 and the board would post at 7x519. However, at least with our sample, stability over 504FSB dropped off quickly and we feel like the board was designed with 500FSB in mind but not much more. We have seen user results that are around 480~506FSB with and without additional cooling so we feel confident that our review sample is not "special". We have a full retail kit arriving and will verify our results against it. We will also utilize the retail kit when we have other 650i SLI boards to review. Overall, the overclocking capability surprised us as we initially expected this chipset to be closer to a maximum bus speed of around 450 FSB.

ASUS P5N-E SLI Basic Features General Performance
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  • Thats Me - Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - link

    I currently have an Intel D945Gnt motherboard that has proven to be a looser in various ways. Using an Intel Dual-Core 3.2 Ghz processor, 2x512 Mb dual channel RAM. Am considering change to the Asus P5N-E motherboard so need advice--will my existing CPU work Ok in the Asus?
    HELP!
    Reply
  • jdrom17 - Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - link

    Just wondering if you are going to update the review, as ASUS released a new BIOS version yesterday (Jan 22) which says it fixes memory compatibility.

    It may solve the issues you ran into, and I'd like to know if it does.
    Reply
  • MikeeeE18 - Tuesday, January 09, 2007 - link

    I read some of the reviews over here and it was a big help in oc my E6600 on the p5n-e. Currently im runin it at 3.21ghz, but my mem timings are wack. Im kinda new to this so any help would be appreciated. I have the system set to 1425 fsb (qdr) x 9 (multiplier) using pc5300 mem 2gb pqi and evga 7950gt ko. I tried setting the fsb to 1608 like it says in one of the reviews but it overloaded the system. Hoping to get some results out of this so i can make this thing a bit faster. Thanks. Reply
  • Operandi - Tuesday, January 02, 2007 - link

    Nice review, bonus points for the fan control information. Reply
  • Lord Evermore - Monday, December 25, 2006 - link

    quote:

    a bit more testing and validation in the future before launch might be a better solution than BIOS patches after the fact


    Testing? But that would delay getting the product out to market before the competition, and possibly stuff up their overly enthusiastic deadlines and announcements. Not to mention costing money that they could save to let the customers beta test it. The people buying these things are tweakers anyway.

    Hey, the software industry gets away with releasing shoddy, half-finished products all the time, and in fact gets the same people to keep buying them. Not to mention releasing essentially the same product with a slightly different name (nF5/nF6).
    Reply
  • PoorBoy - Saturday, December 23, 2006 - link

    I would like to know where you are setting this FSB to 402X9 (Exactly what are you setting to 402 ?)or other FSB# Settings. I just received 2 of theses Boards and Compared to a Gigabyte DQ6 or ASUS P5W DH Board which I have also I'm at a complete loss with this Board. So far no where in the BIOS do I see where I can make this change, I've been in all the Sections & Sub Sections of the BIOS but have yet to find where to change the FSB ... ??? Reply
  • Gary Key - Monday, December 25, 2006 - link

    Go into the BIOS -

    Enter the Advanced Section -

    Change AI Tuning to Manual -

    Go to FSB & Memory Config -

    Changed Linked mode to Unlinked, feel free to change the FSB (QDR) rates. In this BIOS, 402FSB will be set as a 1608 (QDR) in this field.

    I beleive section 2.24 of the manual has further details if my memory serves me. I just arrived at the airport and will be offline for a week in a few moments. ;-)
    Reply
  • PoorBoy - Monday, December 25, 2006 - link

    Thanks for the Tip Gary, that's what I figured I had to do. The only problem is the FSB (QDR) only allows me to set the FSB between 533 & 3000. That's not going to work for me, even @ 533 with a 9 Multiplier that's way to high a CPU Clocks speed for the system to run.

    I tried backing off the Multiplier to 6 and going with 533 which should be about 3.2Ghz & about where I want to run the PC. The PC booted up but was only showing me a 1.59Ghz for the CPU ... ??? I'm starting to dislike this MB immensely, sometimes more is not better IMO...All the different Options, Linked, Unlinked, AUTO, Manual, I guess is something for the Die Hard OClockers but for somebody like me who just wants to go in the BIOS & set the FSB & Voltage without all the Head Scratching on what the different Options are this isn't a good board for them.

    I would return the boards but the policy where I got them is for replacement only for defective boards so I may have to just eat them & get something else that I'm familiar with. I do have 4 E6600's running on different boards @ 3.5-3.6Ghz with no problems & a X6800EE running @ 3.8Ghz also with no problems. Live and learn I guess ... Thanks again ... Steve
    Reply
  • Marlowe - Saturday, December 23, 2006 - link

    It would be very interesting if you could test the 8800GTX SLI setup in high resolution in several games that are known for acctually benefiting from SLI! So we can see how the performance difference is between the 2x16x on the 680i and the 2x8x on the 650i :-) Maby having 2x16x pci-e is more "placebo" than really important for perfomance? ;-)

    I also think it's interesting that there are no s775 motherboard chipset with 2x16x pci-e lanes. Both the 975X and RD600 offers "just" 2x8x pci-e if I am correct. Only the RD580 chipset for s939 and AM2 have the 2x16x pci-e feature. I wonder how the upcoming R600 cards will perform on these different platforms, how they also in Crossfire perform on the two different "speed grades" of motherboards :-) I wonder if ATI/AMD will come with a s775 chipset with true 2x16x pci-e for the release of R600 :-)
    Reply
  • semo - Sunday, December 24, 2006 - link

    quote:

    So we can see how the performance difference is between the 2x16x on the 680i and the 2x8x on the 650i
    yeah me too. i remember there were discussions about the pci-e transition because apparently the agp interface was quite sufficient for the traffic gf cards generated back then. i think it's also because the agp interface was not so reliable when approaching its limits but i'm really not too sure about that.

    anyway, it's interesting to know whether today's gf cards make benefit of the higher digital bandwidth
    Reply

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