With the launch of Intel’s P35 chipset, ASUS promptly released seven boards for you to choose from. A few weeks ago we had taken a look at the P5K3 and were left very impressed. Given the fact that the P5K is strikingly similar in specs, we hope to be left as equally impressed.
Last week we had taken a look at the latest high-end board from ASUS, the P5K3, and were left quite impressed. It’s not an inexpensive board, but the feature-set well made up for the extra few dollars they are asking you to spend. While the P5K3 is a DDR3 board, the P5K is a near spitting-image, minus that DDR3 support. Thanks to that fact, we don’t expect much difference in our testing results, except where memory bandwidth plays a large role.
For the uninitiated, the P5K is based on Intel’s latest P35 chipset, which we explained last month. What it offers over the previous P965 chipset is a wee bit more flexibility for motherboard manufacturers, since they now can offer upwards of 12 USB 2.0 ports, 1x eSATA port and my personal favorite, the S-ATA port disable. That allows you to disable any installed hard drive, so that you can deem it invisible.
Board-specific features include the usual array of ASUS-provided software, built-in WiFi, unique BIOS features and full Windows Vista support. One touted feature is the fact that memory speed can be increased up to 75% on the P5K. From looking closer, it appears this is justified by the fact that you can run DDR2-1066 speeds natively, while most other boards run DDR2-800. This is not a big deal. If your memory can run at DDR2-1066 speeds, it doesn’t need a special feature to have it work.
The P5K is part of ASUS’ Ai Lifestyle series, meaning it offers features not only for enthusiasts, but regular consumers who want a feature packed board, such as one with a good on-board audio chipset. Ai software is also included, which allows you to perform a variety of tasks within Windows, which we will touch on later in the review. Before we move forward, let’s take a look at the board itself.
The P5K box is strikingly similar to the P5K3, not surprisingly. The front lifts up so that you can read a slew of info before ultimately taking the board out of the box.
ASUS does not skimp on included accessories and that’s a benefit that comes with their higher-end boards. You will find four S-ATA cables, one IDE and one floppy, the WiFi adapter, Q-Connector (used for managing the ATX cables better), I/O guard, expansion for 1x FireWire and 2x USB, manuals for both the board itself and the WiFi functionality and finally, the software.
One thing I failed to point out in last weeks review of the P5K3 is that the WiFi adapter is quite unique. It’s a simple white ring that can ‘clip’ to the top of your case, because the bottom is magnetized. Simple, but useful.