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.

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  • dariush - Friday, February 4, 2005 - link

    For Gaming, AMD is better but not all computer users are gamer, When Talking about about video encoding and stability (must important in critical cases) you see Intel says the last words.
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, December 2, 2004 - link

    #32 - I would sincerely appreciate your reading the review before posting comments. Overclocking is covered on p.3 - which is actually titled "Overclocking and Stress Testing".

    Second, this is a First Look which is less detailed that a full review - the idea is to bring you more reviews quicker. We used to include a page explaining this, but I removed it this go-round because I assumed the idea was well-known by now. It appears I was should have kept the explanation page in the review.

    Third, First Look uses PCMark2004 as a General Performance comparison. However, as I stated in Comment #18 the complete Winstones and media encoding do not provide additional information. However, they are already posted in Comment #18 and I'll repeat them:
    "We did run a full suite of benchmarks for future comparisons, but nothing really changes.

    925XE/3.46EE - 925X/3.6E - nF4/FX55 - Benchmark
    34.1 - 34.4 - 39.3 - MM Content Creation 04
    26.7 - 26.5 - 31.1 - Business Winstone 04
    73.1 - 73.4 - 69.1 - AutoGK DivX 5.1.1".

    Fourth, we use a standard setup to allow easier comparisons. Where standard 1024x768 benchmarks are CPU or GPU bound we do use AA and/or higher resolutions to allow valid comparions of motherboard performance. For example Comanche 4 is run at 1280x1024 with 4X AA because 1024x768 without AA reveals nothing about true performance. The "Score" bench for Aquamark 3 uses 4AA by default. We run the newest games at highest settings as detailed in the chart descriptions.
  • T8000 - Thursday, December 2, 2004 - link

    If you talk about enthousiast options, overclocking is usually one of them. Still, no single overclocked CPU was included in the benchmarks.

    There was also no mention about the 925XE containing more options to keep PCI-E within spec during overclocking.

    Besides, there where only gaming benchmarks with high end GPU's running at 1024x768 with no AA or AF, thus creating an unlikely scenario with performance numbers that do not reflect real world performance differences, even for those who just play games.

    Who would even consider buying a $500 GF6800U to play only at settings that a $200 GF6600GT does with ease?
  • danidentity - Wednesday, December 1, 2004 - link

    #28 - The Dolby Digital Live encoding on this board is functionally the same as SoundStorm on the NF2 boards. No PCI sound cards currently support Dolby Digital Live.
  • cALIx - Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - link

    Not to change the subject, but in this review, Doom 3 is listed as a dx9 game. Isnt D3 an opengl based game? If you open the console you can easily see all the gl_ extensions that are open. Also Hardocp always lists D3 as an opengl game when they benchmark with it. So I'm just wondering if someone could clear that up for me. I understand what they are individually, but i'm still confused as to how they work/dont work together...
  • LoneWolf15 - Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - link

    Ouch...my brand new $140 MSI K8N Neo 2 mainboard and I feel sorry for those who choose to shell $250-300 for this board. Not that it's a bad piece of hardware, not that Intel's high-end P4 chips are bad hardware either...but you can do better for far less money, so why would you pay this kind of cash? Especially when you could balance out your system with the money you've saved by upping your graphics card or opting for more RAM or a faster hard disk. Guess I'm just someone who doesn't see the point in buying a Jaguar when an Acura RSX-S would do what I want for less.
  • tc2k04 - Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - link

    I know i'm late, but,
    Did anybody else notice the talk about the audio solution, is this encoding comparable to the output of nforce2 boards? they say its a first for on the motherboard audio, can you buy seperate pci cards at reasonable prices which can do this?

    i'm trying to get a sound solution that can output 2 channel audio in 5.1 through a digital out like my nforce2 onboard does. If this can do this, i might end up buying an intel.
  • Googer - Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - link

    Intel's engineering DEPT takes orders From queer mac using Marketers.
  • Googer - Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - link

    #3 it works. I have done it. Super7 is like a Swiss Army Knife.
  • TrogdorJW - Monday, November 29, 2004 - link

    Hey Wes,

    Any chance of some OC tests and numbers from a standard Prescott core?
    I'm wondering if a 2.8E has the potential to reach a 1066 FSB overclock.
    (I'm also including hard returns due to the overly long link someone posted.)
    As the 2MB cache alleviates some of the pressures of the FSB, a 1MB cache might benefit more.
    Besides, if a 2.8E could actually OC well to 3.73 GHz and a 1066 FSB, that might be worthwhile!

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