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ASUS P7P55D Pro

Date: November 19, 2009
Author(s): Rob Williams

On the lookout for a P55 motherboard to match that shiny new Lynnfield CPU? Given the sheer selection available, deciding on one can be a hassle. ASUS’ P7P55D Pro looks to appeal to a large crowd, though, by offering a slew of useful options, impressive overclocking abilities and a great design for an easy-to-stomach $170.



Introduction

When I began testing Intel’s Lynnfield-based processors a couple of months ago, there were two motherboards that kept my attention during the process. Of those, one was Gigabyte’s P55-UD5, already reviewed, and ASUS’ P7P55D Pro, also known as the one being discussed here. The reason for delay for this review isn’t too important, but it comes down to the fact that after the initial Lynnfield content was finished, our CPU cooler’s mounting bracket was rendered useless.

This seems like a simple problem, because getting a replacement should be simple. In this case, it wasn’t, and it took more than a month to finally receive what I sought out for. Had I known in the beginning just how long it was going to take, I would have looked at other options, but lesson learned. Now we have what we need, and we’ll be looking at many more P55 boards in the months to come.

Because I benchmarked this motherboard months ago, the performance data shown throughout the review has been borrowed from our aforementioned review of the P55-UD6. The reason I held off on posting a review had to do with overclocking, and overclocking only. Obviously, there’s not much overclocking headroom with Intel’s stock cooler, as you’d expect, so I wanted to wait for our replacement Thermalright MUX-120 to show up.

In addition to the performance results, images and general information on this page has also been borrowed from a preview we did prior to Lynnfield’s launch, with some modifications. So without further ado, let’s see what ASUS’ P7P55D Pro is made of from a feature’s standpoint.

Closer Look at ASUS’ P7P55D Pro

When Intel launched its Lynnfield processors, ASUS wasted no time in unveiling its fleet of P55 motherboards, nine in total. That number has since increased, but most aren’t full-fledged brand-new models, but rather revisions of what’s been out there. One exception is the addition of the WS SuperComputer, a board that focuses on the high-end aspect of P55, bringing back full PCI-E 16x multi-GPU graphics to the platform, thanks to NVIDIA’s NF200 chip.

Since ASUS’ initial P55 boards were launched, prices have gone down on all of them by at least $5 or $10 (based on current Newegg pricing). The model I’m looking at here, the Pro, sells for $170, and as such, it’s placed in ASUS’ “mid-range” category. This means that the board isn’t overflowing with bling and seemingly unnecessary features, but it delivers just what the enthusiast is looking for, along with ample overclocking ability.

Some select ASUS P55 motherboards have experienced S-ATA 3.0 upgrades, such as the Premium, but the Pro has been left alone. Given the infancy of S-ATA 6, and the overall lack of drives in the marketplace, not to mention the fact that even SSDs can’t generally exceed the available bandwidth of S-ATA 3Gb/s, this isn’t a major, or even a minor concern at the current time.

ASUS doesn’t believe in shipping out plain Jane motherboards, but rather aims to deliver a quality set of features that can prove useful to anyone using the board. One of the major features with this and select other ASUS motherboards is the TurboV EVO hardware and software overclocking feature. I’ll touch on this later in the review, but let me say now that this is an overclocking tool done right.

In addition to that, there’s also a robust power phase solution, 12+2 (the +2 is dedicated to the integrated memory controller), along with T.Probe, a hardware solution that monitors the effectiveness of currently-used phases. If the computer is under high load, it’ll work to spread it across as many phases as it deems necessary to increase both stability and power efficiency.

Another cool feature is “MemOK!”, yet another hardware solution that helps make memory issues a thing of the past. If the RAM kit installed fails to allow the PC to boot, pushing the MemOK! button the motherboard will force modest settings to allow the board to boot, and in turn, let you into the BIOS to manually set stable settings. All of this and more is included on the motherboard, and I recommend that if you want to get to the nitty gritty of it all, then you take a look at the feature page on ASUS’ official product page.

Tour of the P7P55D Pro

Onto a tour of the product at hand. The first thing I noticed after taking the board out of the box is simple… the color. I’m a big fan of blue, so ASUS really appeals to my eyes with the P7P55D series. There are also a few improvements around the board that are worth noting, such as the unique end tabs on the PCI-E 16x slots, which makes it even easier to remove a GPU, and also the lack of bottom tabs on the DIMM slots, which again, makes it easier to both install and uninstall your RAM. Both of these unique features is patented by ASUS, so don’t expect to see them anywhere else anytime soon.

If there’s one limitation of the Pro compared to the Deluxe and Premium, it’s that it includes only 7 S-ATA ports (compared to 8 and 9, respectively). Of these, four are vertically-mounted, so absolutely no GPU will be able to screw your install over. I would have preferred to have seen all seven available this way, but the other three are found at the bottom, so they are at least out of the way and shouldn’t cause any issues.

Although Lynnfield is based on Nehalem’s architecture, one major difference is the downgrade from a triple-channel memory controller to a dual-channel one. This results in 4 DIMM slots rather than 6, with support for up to 16GB.

Of the available slots, three are PCI-E 16x, suitable for your single or triple GPU configurations (slots will become 8x for dual cards and 8x/8x/4x for triple). Also found are two PCI-E 1x slots and also two legacy PCI slots.

A few years ago, a power phase solution like the one seen below would have been considered crazy. Today, it’s considered mild. Some of ASUS’ and Gigabyte’s higher-end boards feature 32 phases, but that’s overkill in every sense of the word. The 12+2 solution here is going to prove more than sufficient for the vast majority of enthusiasts and overclockers. Even for extreme OC’ing, the value of 12+ phases is going to be debated.

Taking a look at the back I/O panel, we can see nothing lacking. Available are two PS/2 legacy peripheral ports, eight USB, a FireWire, eSATA, LAN and audio ports.

From a features standpoint, the P7P55D Pro lacks little, and only when you’re building a monster rig in every sense of the word might you want to pick a larger model (greater HDD/ODD support and higher phase capacity are the most noticeable features on a higher-end board). I spent a lot of time with this board back in September, and I had absolutely no issues during all the goofing around, testing and stress-testing that I did. So how about the BIOS?

Look at the BIOS

ASUS has long been known as a producer of quality motherboards (among other things), but whenever I picture one of its boards, I can’t help but think of the BIOS. Compared to what else is out there, I personally find ASUS’ BIOSes to be the best of the bunch, with a great layout, and easy-to-understand options. Past the options themselves, there’s the aspect of stability. I can’t remember the last time an unstable overclock rendered an ASUS board useless before I’d have to get down and reset the CMOS.

The BIOS on the P7P55D Pro is no different to what I’d expect, with the menu system running along the top, rather than in sub-menus you must hit enter to get into. There are of course sub-menus as well, but for all the important and most commonly used options, they’re just a couple of key clicks away.

Although this board isn’t exactly being targeted primarily at overclockers, there’s a sheer number of options here that are sure to overwhelm most enthusiasts, myself included. I tend to stick with the most basic options since I’m not entirely interested in spending the time to gain a few extra MHz, but for those who want to squeeze every last cent out of their processor, this BIOS is going to allow you to do that.

With the look of the board and BIOS out of the way, the next stop is a look at our testing methodology, and then into our first benchmark result, SYSmark 2007 Preview.

Test System & Methodology

At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate as possible. Our testing is rigorous and time-consuming, but we feel the effort is worth it. In an attempt to leave no question unanswered, this page contains not only our testbed specifications, but also a fully-detailed look at how we conduct our testing.

If there is a bit of information that we’ve omitted, or you wish to offer thoughts or suggest changes, please feel free to shoot us an e-mail or post in our forums.

Test System

The table below lists the hardware for our current motherboard-testing machine, which remains unchanged throughout all testing, with the exception of the motherboard. Each motherboard used for the sake of comparison is also listed here, along with the BIOS version used. In addition, each one of the URLs in this table can be clicked to view the respective review of that product, or if a review doesn’t exist, you will be led to the product on the manufacturer’s website.

Component
Intel LGA1156 Test System
ProcessorsIntel Core i7-870 – Quad-Core, 2.93GHz, ~1.25v
Motherboard
ASUS P7P55D Pro – P55-based, 0606 BIOS (09/08/09)
Gigabyte P55-UD5 – P55-based, F3 BIOS (08/01/09)
Memory
Corsair XMS3 DHX 2x2GB – DDR3-1333 7-7-7-20-2T, 1.65v
Graphics
Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 1GB (Catalyst 9.9)
Audio
On-Board Audio
Storage
Intel X-25M 80GB SSD
Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200.11
Power Supply
Corsair HX1000W
Chassis
SilverStone TJ10 Full-Tower
Display
Gateway XHD3000 30″
Cooling
Intel Stock LGA1156 Cooler
Thermalright MUX-120 (Overclocking)
Et cetera
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

When preparing our testbeds for any type of performance testing, we follow these guidelines:

Because it gives a more realistic interpretation of motherboard/CPU performance, we leave all of the power-related options in the BIOS to their default selection. This means that for Intel boards, SpeedStep is left in tact, and Cool’n’Quiet for AMD-based boards.


Our Windows 7 Desktop for Motherboard-Testing

To aide with the goal of keeping accurate and repeatable results, we alter certain services in Windows 7 from starting up at boot. This is due to the fact that these services have the tendency to start up in the background without notice, potentially causing slightly inaccurate results. Disabling “Windows Search” turns off the OS’ indexing which can at times utilize the hard drive and memory more than we’d like.

Application Benchmarks

To help test out the real performance benefits of a given processor, we run a large collection of both real-world and synthetic benchmarks, including 3ds Max 2010, Adobe Lightroom 2.5, ATTO, PCMark Vantage, Sandra 2009, WinRAR and more.

Our ultimate goal is always to find out which processor excels in a given scenario and why. Running all of the applications in our carefully-chosen suite can help better give us answers to those questions. Aside from application data, we also run two common games to see how performance scales there, including Call of Duty: World at War and Crysis Warhead. For a synthetic point-of-view, we also use Futuremark’s 3DMark Vantage.

Game Benchmarks

In an attempt to offer “real-world” results, we do not utilize timedemos in any of our reviews. Each game in our test suite is benchmarked manually, with the minimum and average frames-per-second (FPS) captured with the help of FRAPS 2.9.9.

To deliver the best overall results, each title we use is exhaustively explored in order to find the best possible level in terms of intensiveness and replayability. Once a level is chosen, we play through repeatedly to find the best possible route and then in our official benchmarking, we stick to that route as close as possible. Since we are not robots and the game can throw in minor twists with each run, no run can be identical to the pixel.

Each game and setting combination is tested twice, and if there is a discrepancy between the initial results, the testing is repeated until we see results we are confident with.

The two games we currently use for our motherboard reviews are listed below, with direct screenshots of the game’s setting screens.

Call of Duty: World at War

Crysis Warhead

Although the screenshots reflect a 1680×1050 resolution, we also test using 2560×1600.

System: SYSmark 2007 Preview

Synthetic benchmarks have typically been favored for performance testing, but the results they provide can be fairly abstract, and the methods they use to assign their scores can be dubious at times. By contrast, real-world application benchmarks provide performance metrics that apply directly to real-world usage, and we endeavor to apply both in our performance comparisons.

SYSmark 2007 Preview from BAPCO is a special case, because its synthetic scores are derived from tests in real-world applications. However, we still believe that synthetic benchmarking scores are best used to directly compare the performance of one piece of hardware to another, and not for developing an impression of real-world performance expectations. SYSmark is more useful than most synthetic benchmarking programs in our opinion, because its tests emulate tasks that people actually perform, in actual software programs that they are likely to use.

The benchmark is hands-free, using scripts to execute all of the real-world scenarios identically, such as video editing in Sony Vegas and image manipulation in Adobe Photoshop. At the conclusion of the suite of tests, five scores are delivered: an E-learning score, a Video Creation score, a Productivity score, and a 3D Performance score, as well as an aggregated ‘Overall’ score. These scores can still be fairly abstract, and are most useful for direct comparisons between test systems.

A quick note on methodology: SYSmark 2007 requires a clean install of Windows 7 64-bit to run optimally. Before any testing is conducted, the hard drive is first wiped clean, and then a fresh Windows installation is conducted, then lastly, the necessary hardware drivers are installed. The ‘Three Iterations’ test suite is run, with the ‘Conditioning Run’ setting enabled. Then the results from the three runs are averaged and rounded up or down to the next whole number.

Like most benchmarking results on motherboards, the scores here vary a small bit from board to board and from run to run. In the end though, both the ASUS and Gigabyte boards scored equally overall. This, and all the other charts throughout this review, will become a lot more interesting as we test more P55 offerings.

System: PCMark Vantage

Futuremark is no stranger to most any enthusiast out there, as the company’s benchmarks have been used to gauge our PC’s worth for many years. Although the company’s 3DMark Vantage (which we also use for testing) is arguably more popular than PCMark Vantage, the latter is a great tool to measure a system’s overall performance across many different scenarios.

Unlike SYSmark, PCMark is more of a synthetic benchmark, as very little is seen to the user during the run. However, each test tackles a specific and common scenario that’s typical of many computer users – enthusiasts and regular users alike – such as photo manipulation, gaming, music conversion, productivity, et cetera.

The main problem right now with PCMark is its inability (at least for us) to produce an overall score when being run under Windows 7. Even when run in compatibility mode (which is required by 3DMark), the application will crash during the Memories test, despite that particular test executing fine when run as its own suite. So, no overall score is produced, but the seven individual scores are.

While SYSmark uses modest numbers for their scoring, ranging in the hundreds, Futuremark opts for much higher scores with their entire suite, with the lowest being the TV and Movies, ranging around the 6,000 mark. On the high-end, our Intel SSD is capable of pushing the test’s HDD scenario well beyond 20,000.

As we’d expect, the boards here flip/flop their strengths and weaknesses here, although neither could be considered bad in any scenario. A difference of less than 5% in a given scenario isn’t going to be easy to recognize in a real-world test. Interestingly, the HDD test proved far better on the ASUS, and at this point, and we’re uncertain as to why. I’m hoping to test out a few theories soon. Overall this isn’t a big issue, but the nod does go to ASUS in the end.

Multi-Media: Adobe Lightroom, 3ds Max 2010, TMPGEnc XPress

Photo manipulation benchmarks are more relevant than ever, given the proliferation of high-end digital photography hardware. For this benchmark, we test the system’s handling of RAW photo data using Adobe Lightroom, an excellent RAW photo editor and organizer that’s easy to use and looks fantastic.

For our testing, we take 100 RAW files (in Nikon’s .NEF file format) which have a 10-megapixel resolution, and export them as JPEG files in 1000×669 resolution, similar to most of the photos we use here on the website. Such a result could also be easily distributed online or saved as a low-resolution backup. This test involves not only scaling of the image itself, but encoding in a different image format. The test is timed indirectly using a stopwatch, and times are accurate to within +/- 0.25 seconds.

Autodesk 3ds Max 2010

Autodesk’s 3ds Max is without question an industry standard when it comes to 3D modeling and animation, with DreamWorks, BioWare and Blizzard Entertainment being a few of its notable users. It’s a multi-threaded application that’s designed to be right at home on multi-core and multi-processor workstations or render farms, so it easily tasks even the biggest system we can currently throw at it.

For our testing, we use two project files that are designed to last long enough to find any weakness in our setup and also allows us to find a result that’s easily comparable between both motherboards and processors. The first project is a dog model included on recent 3ds Max DVD’s, which we infused with some Techgage flavor. This is rendered at an 1100×825 resolution.

TMPGEnc Xpress 4.5

When it comes to video transcoding, one of the best offerings on the market is TMPGEnc Xpress. Although a bit pricey, the software offers an incredible amount of flexibility and customization, not to mention superb format support. From the get go, you can output to DivX, DVD, Video-CD, Super Video-CD, HDV, QuickTime, MPEG, and more. It even goes as far as to include support for Blu-ray video!

There are a few reasons why we choose to use TMPGEnc for our tests. The first relates to the reasons laid out above. The sheer ease of use and flexibility is appreciated. Beyond that, the application does us a huge favor by tracking the encoding time, so that we can actually look away while an encode is taking place and not be afraid that we’ll miss the final encoding time. Believe it or not, not all transcoding applications work like this.

For our test, we take a 0.99GB high-quality DivX H.264 AVI video of Half-Life 2: Episode Two gameplay with stereo audio and transcode it to the same resolution of 720p (1280×720), but lower the bit rate in order to attain a modest file size. This test also utilizes the SSE instruction sets, either SSE2 or SSE4, depending on what the chip supports.

The scores throughout all three of these tests are incredibly close, as we’d expect, but the overall nod goes towards Gigabyte’s board, which only fell behind ASUS’ offering in our TMPGEnc Xpress test.

Storage & Memory: ATTO, 7-Zip, Sandra

In the world of benchmarking, there seem to be many tools that can accomplish the same thing as a hundred others, and where storage is concerned, that couldn’t be more true. Although we’ve used HD Tune Pro, HD Tach and others in the past, we’ve opted to begin using ATTO, as it’s incredibly lightweight (at less than 100KB), yet offers a fair amount of flexibility.

For our run with ATTO, we leave all options at default, except the Queue Depth, which is increased to the max value of 10. It’s also important to note that we’re benchmarking the OS drive, which happens to be Intel’s X25-M 80GB (Gen 1).

7-Zip

Thinking back about a decade ago, archiving applications were kind of scarce. Well, the free ones were. Applications such as WinRAR and WinZIP have been available for a while, but a free solution is going to appeal to a far greater audience, especially if you don’t need or want the extra features that come included with the aforementioned options.

While 7-Zip may not be the most robust archiver out there, in looks or in features, it’s free, and offers a great amount of functionality and performance given that fact. For our test with 7-Zip, we take a 4GB folder littered with just over 5,000 files and archive it to our secondary drive, the mechanical Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 500GB.

Typically, storage, above any other benchmark, is going to show variances throughout each run. But, our results remained consistent here across multiple OS restores, and in the end, neither board truly comes ahead in either ATTO or 7-Zip. The ASUS won some, and the Gigabyte won the rest. Again, this is typical, and to be expected.

SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP4

Like Futuremark, SiSoftware is another company that needs no introduction. As far back as I can remember using Windows, I was using Sandra to check up on my machine, and to stress it. Over time, the company has added in numerous ways to benchmark your PC, and there’s pretty much nothing it can’t tackle. The company even recently added in GPGPU benchmarking, so they’re really on top of things.

The overall bandwidth is near identical, but the ASUS board improved upon the memory latency ever so slightly. When dealing with these tight numbers, though, 3ns is actually rather noticeable.

Gaming: CoD: World at War, Crysis Warhead, 3DMark Vantage

While some popular game franchises are struggling to keep themselves healthy, Call of Duty doesn’t have much to worry about. This is Treyarch’s third go at a game in the series, and a first for one that’s featured on the PC. All worries leading up to this title were all for naught, though, as Treyarch delivered on all promises.

To help keep things fresh, CoD: World at War focuses on battles not exhaustively explored in previous WWII-inspired games. These include battles which take place in the Pacific region, Russia and Berlin, and variety is definitely something this game pulls off well, so it’s unlikely you’ll be off your toes until the end of the game.

For our testing, we use a level called “Relentless”, as it’s easily one of the most intensive levels in the game. It features tanks, a large forest environment and even a few explosions. This level depicts the Battle of Peleliu, where American soldiers advance to capture an airstrip from the Japanese. It’s a level that’s both exciting to play and one that can bring even high-end systems to their knees.

Crysis Warhead

As PC enthusiasts, we tend to be drawn to games that offer spectacular graphics… titles that help reaffirm your belief that shelling out lots of cash for that high-end monitor and PC was well worth it. But it’s rare when a game comes along that is so visually-demanding, it’s unable to run fully maxed out on even the highest-end systems on the market. In the case of the original Crysis, it’s easy to see that’s what Crytek was going for.

Funny enough, even though Crysis was released close to a year ago, the game today still has difficulty running at 2560×1600 with full detail settings – and that’s even with overlooking the use of anti-aliasing! Luckily, Warhead is better optimized and will run smoother on almost any GPU, despite looking just as gorgeous as its predecessor, as you can see in the screenshot below.

The game includes four basic profiles to help you adjust the settings based on how good your system is. These include Entry, Mainstream, Gamer and Enthusiast – the latter of which is for the biggest of systems out there, unless you have a sweet graphics card and are only running 1680×1050. We run our tests at the Gamer setting as it’s very demanding on any current GPU and is a proper baseline of the level of detail that hardcore gamers would demand from the game.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Although we generally shun automated gaming benchmarks, we do like to run at least one to see how our GPUs scale when used in a ‘timedemo’-type scenario. Futuremark’s 3DMark Vantage is without question the best such test on the market, and it’s a joy to use, and watch. The folks at Futuremark are experts in what they do, and they really know how to push that hardware of yours to its limit.

The company first started out as MadOnion and released a GPU-benchmarking tool called XLR8R, which was soon replaced with 3DMark 99. Since that time, we’ve seen seven different versions of the software, including two major updates (3DMark 99 Max, 3DMark 2001 SE). With each new release, the graphics get better, the capabilities get better and the sudden hit of ambition to get down and dirty with overclocking comes at you fast.

Similar to a real game, 3DMark Vantage offers many configuration options, although many (including us) prefer to stick to the profiles which include Performance, High and Extreme. Depending on which one you choose, the graphic options are tweaked accordingly, as well as the resolution. As you’d expect, the better the profile, the more intensive the test.

Performance is the stock mode that most use when benchmarking, but it only uses a resolution of 1280×1024, which isn’t representative of today’s gamers. Extreme is more appropriate, as it runs at 1920×1200 and does well to push any single or multi-GPU configuration currently on the market – and will do so for some time to come.

Like the vast majority of our benchmarks throughout this review, neither motherboard totally overcomes the other in terms of performance, and gaming isn’t much different. Interestingly enough, Gigabyte’s board came out slightly ahead in our real-world game tests, while the ASUS delivered better scores in our 3DMark test.

Overclocking ASUS’ P7P55D Pro

Before we get into our overclocking results, allow me to clarify how we do things. In order to declare an overclock as “stable”, we stress it as hard as possible for a certain period of time, both with CPU-related tests and also GPU-related, to conclude on what we’ll be confident is 100% stability throughout all possible computing scenarios.

For the sake of CPU stress-testing, we use LinX. Compared to other popular CPU stress-testers, LinX’s tests are far more gruelling, and proof of that is seen by the fact that it manages to heat the CPU up to 20°C hotter than competing applications, like SP2004. Generally, if the CPU survives the first half-hour of this stress, there’s a good chance that it’s mostly stable.

If the CPU stress passes without error, then GPU stress-testing begins, in order to assure a system-wide stable overclock. To test for this, 3DMark Vantage’s Extreme test is used, with the increased resolution of 2560×1600, looped nine times. If this passes, some time is dedicated to real-world game testing, to make sure that gaming is just as stable as it would be if the CPU were at stock. If both these CPU and GPU tests pass without issue, we can confidently declare a stable overclock.

Overclocking with ASUS’ P7P55D Pro

One thing that separates ASUS’ recent boards from the rest is the TurboV EVO overclocking software. I often shun overclocking software, because it takes far longer to achieve a decent overclock with than it would if you just went into the BIOS and took care of it yourself. And then there’s the problem of the software “auto-tuner” simply taking too long, or wimping out after a measly 5 – 10% overclock is achieved.

ASUS wants to change opinions with TurboV EVO, and do to so, its created a special chip on the motherboard that interacts with this software directly. During the process of tuning, it checks in to make sure voltages and temperatures are in line, along with stability. As it increases the BCLK and other things, it will re-test using an internal stress-tester to verify stability. If everything checks out, it will continue going until the PC crashes.

During the process of auto-tuning, nothing else can be done on the PC as the software takes over the entire screen. As it does its magic, you can sit back and enjoy the show. There are many animations and cool-looking effects that adds to the overall appeal of the tool. I believe this is the first ever piece of ASUS software that has impressed me where aesthetics are concerned. I mean, just look at it!

There are three options to choose from for the auto-tuner, with the most interesting being “Extreme Tuning”. With the CPU at stock speeds, I went ahead and let the program do its thing, and after a reboot, it told me that a 33% boost to the CPU was a success, from 2.66GHz to 3.88GHz. That’s what I call an overclock!

After that clock was established, TurboV EVO attempted to go even further, but going higher was just out of the question, so it left me with the overclock seen above. If my temperature situation was better, I’m confident it would have gone even higher, but any way you look at it, 3.88GHz for no effort whatsoever is nothing to scoff at!

Ignoring TurboV EVO entirely, the process of overclocking with the P7P55D Pro is an absolute breeze, thanks not only in part to the exhaustive number of BIOS tweaking options, but also because the board can handle a lot of pain. That said, I haven’t quite settled on a top-end stable overclock, just because the CPU got far too hot. Your situation might be different, where an even higher overclock will prove cooler. It depends on not only the CPU cooler itself, but the ambient room temperature as well.

Like the only other P55 board I’ve overclocked with so far, Gigabyte’s P55-UD5, I reached a stable overclock of 3.70GHz with ease, but I wanted to go further, and see just how high I could push things while putting up with the near 100°C temperatures. One result is below. Yes, that’s 4.2GHz. You can click on it to see that it was stable enough to handle a couple of runs of Cinebench, with very nice scores.

This might not be an ultra high-end board, but it sure has proved itself where overclocking is concerned. If temps weren’t an issue, I might have even gone further, because as stable as it was at 4.2GHz, I can tell that some headroom remains. But as it is, 3.70GHz (185MHz x 20) proved LinX stable on our Core i7-870, which is still a great overclock. If temps don’t get in your way, I have little doubt you’ll push well beyond that.

Power Consumption, Final Thoughts

It goes without saying that power efficiency is at the forefront of many consumers’ minds today, and for good reason. Whether you are trying to save money or the environment – or both – it’s good to know just how much effort certain vendors are putting into their products to help them excel in this area. Both AMD and Intel have worked hard to develop efficient chips, and that’s evident with each new launch. The CPUs are getting faster, and use less power, and hopefully things will stay that way.

To help see what kind of wattage a given processor draws on average, we use a Kill-A-Watt that’s plugged into a power bar that’s in turn plugged into one of the wall sockets, with the test system plugged directly into that. The monitor and other components are plugged into the other socket and is not connected to the Kill-A-Watt. For our system specifications, please refer to our methodology page.

To test, the computer is first boot up and left to sit at idle for five minutes, at which point the current wattage is recorded if stable. To test for full CPU load, LinX is run with 2560MB memory usage for a total of five minutes. During that run, the highest point the wattage reaches on the meter is captured and becomes our “Max Load”.

I admit that these results surprised me a bit. The Gigabyte board costs about $50 more than the ASUS board, so by that logic alone, I’d figure that the P55-UD5 was more robust overall, and would of course result in greater power consumption. That wasn’t at all the case though, as the P7P55D Pro actually drew an additional 17W at full load, and 10W at idle.

Final Thoughts

Whew, it’s sure taken a while, but I’m glad I was finally able to get this review posted. Overall, I’m quite pleased with the first ASUS P55 offering I’ve touched, and I look forward to getting more boards in our lab in the coming months to see what else is out there, at a variety of different price-ranges. I came to like the P7P55D Pro quite a bit two months ago when I first started testing with it, and since then, not a thing has changed.

From a price and features standpoint, the P7P55D Pro at $170 offers a great bang for the buck. It doesn’t overwhelm with features, but it doesn’t hold anything important back either. It offers a lot of HDD/ODD connectivity, an ample supply of PCI/PCI-E slots for most people, a great design and good looks, and a set of hardware and software features that are well worth acknowledging.

It might seem a little odd to praise something so simple, but I really do like the modified PCI-E tabs and altered design to the DIMM slots. Both are designed to make installing GPUs and memory modules a lot easier, and that’s what’s important. It’s hard to believe that ASUS has a patent on each one of these features (perhaps it shouldn’t be), so it’s unfortunate we won’t see the same implementation on other vendor’s motherboards – at least with the exact same design.

Given its robust feature-set, smart design, great overclocking ability and price-point, I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending the P7P55D Pro to anyone looking for a board that does it all, but doesn’t break the bank. Unfortunately, even though P55 boards have been out for a few months, this is the first ASUS board we’ve had the pleasure in taking a look at. That’ll change soon, however, and I hope to be able to deliver follow-up reviews of ASUS (and others) P55 motherboards in the near-future.


ASUS P7P55D Pro

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