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On paper, the Asus P5N7A-VM is very similar to the
but, head-to-head in the real world, the GeForce 9300 board
came out on top in almost every way. The P5N7A-VM pulled less power from the
wall (the lowest we've ever recorded for a board of its type), was more efficient
at handling high defintion video playback, and delivered much better 3D performance.
While the P5Q-EM provides more elaborate CPU / chipset / memory BIOS
options, the P5N7A-VM actually overclocked better out of the box without
modifying any voltages. It also allows adjustment of the IGP's clock and shader
frequencies. Unfortunately, it could not undervolt as well, failing to POST when
the CPU voltage was set below 0.93125V. The P5Q-EM, on the other hand, could be
set to its minimum 0.850V, but the difference in voltage
only allowed the P5Q-EM to pull even in terms of overall power consumption when our
E7200 CPU was underclocked.
The feature lists of the two boards are almost identical. The P5N7A-VM adds a DisplayPort output and eSATA
on the back panel, while the P5Q-EM has FireWire instead (eSATA is offered via an adapter). The P5N7A-VM
is also a bit cheaper, though still fairly expensive at $130.
The Asus P5N7A-VM is probably not a good choice for a simple file server or
light-use machine given its price and feature-list, but it would be perfect
for an HTPC or any situation where you would need the processing power of an Intel
Core 2 processor in a small package. We're happy to see that nVidia not only
gave Intel a run for their money, but solidly beat them in most areas. It hit
all the right buttons with us: features, power consumption, video playback,
and especially overall efficiency. The P5Q-EM is a good board, but the P5N7A-VM is simply
better. nVidia: Welcome back you've been missed.
* Low power consumption
* Efficient video playback
* Decent 3D performance
* Good feature-set, connectivity
* 2 controllable fan headers
* Unstable at lower CPU voltages
Our thanks to ASUSTeK
for the Asus P5N7A-VM sample.
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Articles of Related Interest
Asus P5Q-EM G45 mATX motherboard
M3A78-T: AMD's IGP Gets Another Boost
DG45FC: Loaded LGA775 Mini-ITX Board
DG35EC: G35 mainstream mATX board
D945GCLF m-ITX: Atom For The Desktop
NF610i-ITX: A Compact Core 2 Solution
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this article in the SPCR forums.
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