Asus P5E3 Premium: A Mean, Green Motherboard?

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As with most boards based on Intel chipsets, the P5E3 Premium turned out to be a fantastic overclocker — it POSTed consistantly with the FSB set to 560Mhz (multiplier dropped to 6). This means in theory, Yorkfield and Wolfdale processors, if capable of such speeds, can be overclocked to 68% over stock.


The built-in draft-N wireless adapter gave us little trouble, and detected and connected to our wireless network without difficulty via Wireless Zero Configuration. The provided Asus configuration utility however was problematic — it claimed the adapter was disconnected, which obviously wasn't true. The range was good, as far as we could tell — moving throughout the building carrying a running system and monitor to check the signal was impractical. There were no drop-outs during testing.


Though the board shipped with two optional fans that can be fit on any of the VRM heatsinks, we found the entire heatpipe array performed adequately without any active cooling. During heavy load, we measured the temperature of each heatsink and found those cooling the VRMs were actually the coolest. When meausred with a laser thermometer, they registered less than 45°C, while the southbridge and northbridge came close to 55°C and 70°C respectively. The heatpipes closest to the chipsets were consistantly warmer than the others. The optional fans are fairly loud by our standards, with poor undertones. They sounded very buzzy with a slightly high-pitch whine, as one can expect from small blower fans. We wouldn't bother with them.

Optional fan installed.


The Asus P5E3 Premium is bursting with features: FireWire, gigabit ethernet, wireless-N, eSATA, ATI Crossfire — the list goes on and on. Though the CPU support on our sample was problematic, this was probably isolated to our sample. Other reviews around the web do not mention anything like the CPU / EPU problems we encountered. The board's main negative is obviously the price. Many users would balk at a $200 motherboard, and the retail price is almost double that. To make matters worse, the board lacks DDR2 support, and DDR3 memory is quite expensive at this time.

Is it suitable for a silent PC? With the board's passive cooling being sufficient, the only true measures we can use are power consumption and fan control. Power consumption is difficult to gauge without comparable products to test it against, and we weren't able to get conclusive results with EPU. If the trouble we had with CPU selection is any indicator, we may simply have a bad sample on our hands. However, if EPU saved 10W or even 20W, going with a different chipset and/or feature-set could be just as beneficial. In addition, it's a feature that is somewhat misplaced on this board. With a high-end chipset and triple Crossfire capability, it's a likely choice for gung-ho gamers and enthusiasts looking to squeeze out the most performance they can out of their hardware — not to save power. Fortunately, EPU is also available on Asus' P5Q line (using the more mainstream P45 chipset) and it will probably appear on future motherboards as well. Hopefully EPU will simply become standard and you won't have to pay extra for it.

The fan control is very good, though still not ideal. The CPU fan can be controlled manually using SpeedFan, or with the various automatic profiles in the BIOS. The Chassis fans are another matter. They cannot be really controlled via the desktop, and in the BIOS, the only automatic control is via a manual profile — which doesn't always behave properly. However, you can still set all 4 of them to a fixed speed and that's a lot more than most boards are capable of.

One of the most positive things about the P5E3 Premium is Express Gate. The fast boot-up time coupled with its ease of use makes it incredibly convenien. It's also a somewhat subversive promotion of Linux, although not a direct shot at Microsoft like the orignal Linux-based Asus EEE PC sub-notebook. Many PC users could probably live with just Express Gate alone. It lacks basic productivity applications, a video player and DVD/hard disk access — if these were added, Express Gate would truly turn some heads.


* Amazing feature-set
* Can control 5 fans
* Express Gate
* Overclocks well

* Ridiculous price
* CPU support buggy
* EPU a bust?

Our thanks to Asus for the P5E3 Premium motherboard sample.

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