Asus P3-P5G33 Barebone Slim PC

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BIOS

While the board that came included with the P3-P5G33 was physically identical to the Asus P5K-VM, it had a different BIOS than the retail board. The P5K-VM specification page lists adjustable CPU frequency and voltage, and other tweaks, but the BIOS we encountered was locked down, on par with the Intel DG33TL we reviewed last year.

Memory timings, voltages, and CPU frequency were all off limits. The board shipped with BIOS version 0202 and none of the options changed when we updated to the latest version, 0301. It is very likely you can flash it with a retail P5K-VM BIOS to unlock its functionality rather than the one provided on the P3-P5G33 support page.

While we don't recommend overclocking in such a tight case, it would have been nice to be able to undervolt the CPU to save power and reduce the thermal output.

FAN CONTROL & MONITORING

As is common for most motherboards, the Asus P5K-VM is equipped with 3 fan headers, one of which is PWM-capable. The CPU fan header can be controlled manually via SpeedFan with the Speed02 field by going into the Advanced menu and changing PWM mode 2 to "Manual PWM Control" and PWM type 2 to "PWM output." SpeedFan was able to vary the Intel stock cooler's fan speed from 1000 up to 1900 RPM. Note that one of the 3-pin headers does not report fan speed at all.


Asus' PC Probe application corroborated most of SpeedFan's readings.

The CPU fan speed behavior with the Q-fan feature was not aggressive. The system was placed horizontally with the auxiliary fan disabled, and stressed using Prime95. The CPU temperature stabilized eventually well past 60°C, but the fan did not ramp up unless we stopped it for varying lengths of time. We're not sure if it was reacting to the temperature, or simply overcompensating because it believed the fan had stopped.

TESTING

Test Setup:

Measurement and Analysis Tools

Intel SpeedStep was enabled and Aero Glass, the Vista Sidebar, and the Superfetch service were disabled during testing.

Main Test Procedure:

  • The P5G33 was tested in various states: off, sleep, idle, during video playback, and at full load using two instances of Prime95.
  • System power consumption was measured at the AC outlet using a Seasonic Power Angel.
  • We also examined CPU usage during video playback to see how well the integrated graphics handled different clips. The testing procedure is outlined on page 6 of our AMD 780g chipset review.
  • The lab's ambient noise level was around 18~20 dBA, and the ambient temperature was 21°C.

Problems Encountered During Testing

  • Idle power consumption was unusually high due to the fact that SpeedStep was not working. While it reduced the CPU's multiplier when idle, the voltage remained the same according to CPU-Z.
  • We were also unable to put the system into Sleep mode. When we tried to did so, the fans continued to spin after the screen blackened and upon reboot, the infamous Asus F1 overclocking error was reported. We were unable to recover the session that had been suspended.
  • PowerDVD would not play our Blu-ray disc, citing a problem with the Intel display driver. We did manage to get around it though, by using the latest version of AnyDVD HD to break the disc's copy protection and reveal the disc's directory structure. Once we did that, PowerDVD was capable of playing the individual .m2ts files on the disc (or from the hard drive, once ripped). While many would prefer to see the movie without the menu, splash screens, etc., it's not the experience the film studios intended.


Cyberlink's Blu-ray Advisor diagnostic questioned whether compatibility of the IGP adn display driver.



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