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Asus P5QL Pro

Roundup: Six Core 2 Motherboards Under $100
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The Asus P5QL Pro targets a market that views $100 motherboards as extravagant. Buyers who put price ahead of features will be pleased to note that for around $85, the P5QL Pro includes only those features needed to meet the majority of their demands.

In fact, the P5QL Pro is even the thinnest motherboard of today’s comparison, and the only one to arrive noticeably warped. Yet motherboards rely on a case to provide mechanical support, so the appearance really shouldn’t present much of a problem to value seekers.

One big thing that low-cost buyers can appreciate is flexibility. The P5QL Pro supports full-length cards in every one of its six expansion slots, broadening its market to include both low-budget builders and repair personnel. Gamers with modified graphics cards will find space for triple or quad graphics card coolers without any cable clearance issues.

Another way Asus was able to reduce the P5QL Pro's cost was by making it narrower than typical ATX motherboards. The smaller size provides an installation advantage, as even the most crowded cases should have enough room in front of the Ultra ATA connector to add a cable.

Unfortunately, the narrow design left no room for an ATX connector at the front edge, and we instead find it more inconveniently placed between the P43 northbridge and the P5QL Pro’s rear edge. We can’t think of any system where this would be beneficial, as the computer’s thickest cable must be routed either around the CPU cooler in traditional cases or around the graphics cards in cases that have the power supply at the bottom. In fact, the cables of some power supplies might not reach this far.

Similarly, with no room at the front of the circuit board for additional connectors, the floppy header has been moved towards the back of the bottom edge. Few users require these, but anyone clinging to Windows XP might find a floppy handy for adding AHCI drivers during OS installation.

Asus even puts its front-panel audio connector in the bottom rear corner, which is a location that, though traditional, causes grief when trying to connect the cables of the top-panel jacks used by some cases.

A few positive features that help the P5QL Pro stand apart from many other low-cost motherboards is the use of solid capacitors in all locations, a replaceable BIOS IC that can help recover the motherboard’s functionality in case of a bad flash, and a four-phase voltage regulator where some competitors use only three. The combination of these quality enhancements, support for over-sized expansion cards, and Asus’ reputation for performance could make the P5QL Pro the ideal choice for the ultra-low-cost crowd.

Asus P5QL PRO (Revision 1.00G)

Northbridge

Intel P43 Express

Southbridge

Intel ICH10

Voltage Regulator

Four Phases

BIOS

0803 (10/08/2008)

333.3MHz (FSB1333)

333.0 MHz (-0.10%)

Clock Generator

ICS 9LPRS916JGLF

Connectors and Interfaces

Onboard

1x PCIe 2.0 x16

2x PCIe x1

3x PCI

3x USB 2.0 (2 ports per connector)

1x SerialPort header

1x Floppy

1x Ultra ATA (2 drives)

6x Serial ATA 3.0 Gb/s

1x Front Panel Audio

1x CD-Audio In

1x S/P-DIF Out

1x Fan 4 pins (CPU)

1x Fan 3 pins (Chassis)

IO panel

2x PS2 (keyboard + mouse)

6x USB 2.0

1x Digital Audio Out (S/P-DIF coaxial)

1x RJ-45 Network

6x Analog Audio (7.1 Channel + Mic-In + Line-In)

Mass Storage Controllers

Intel ICH10

6x SATA 3.0Gb/s

Marvell 88SE6102 PCI-E

1x Ultra ATA-133 (2-drives)

Network

Atheros AR8121 PCI-E

Gigabit LAN Controller

Audio

Realtek ALC1200 HDA

Eight-Channel (7.1 Surround) Output

An Ultra ATA controller, digital audio output, and enough analog audio jacks to support 7.1-channel output plus a microphone and line input simultaneously are the only superfluous features for low-cost system builders. Of these, the full set of analog jacks will probably be used most frequently.

Buyers in the P5QL Pro’s secondary market will find that the combination of dual PS/2 ports and Ultra ATA support make it a great replacement for previous-generation systems. Asus had long-ago removed the second PS/2 ports from its more expensive products.

That twice-discussed Ultra ATA controller is Marvell’s 88SE6102, which uses a PCIe interface to provide full bandwidth to two drives at speeds up to 133 MB/s.

The Atheros AR8121 is so small that its manufacturer claims it’s half the size of the nearest competing product. It uses a PCIe interface to deliver full bi-directional bandwidth to the P5QL Pro’s single Gigabit Network connection.

Realtek’s ALC1200 is a special part manufactured to Asus’ specifications, supporting 7.1-channel surround audio plus synthesized surround using DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC for stereo speakers.

Display all 41 comments.
Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    Anonymous , December 24, 2008 12:11 PM
    I run the I.T. department for a couple small businesses, and the sub $100 motherboard is almost essential in today's economy. Sure I could use a $120-$150 motherboard, DDR3, 10000 RPM hard drive, and all kinds of other things, but I would end up with a system that is only marginal faster in business applications for 3+ times the price. Take one of the G3x or G4x motherboards, 2GB DDR2, Intel E7x00 CPU and 80GB+ HDD and you have a system that will meet the needs of a good majority of businesses and home users. I am personally a gamer and can see the value in the higher end components; but there are a lot of other market segments out there where this makes financial sense.
Other Comments
  • -5 Hide
    V3NOM , December 24, 2008 9:10 AM
    interesting, although pretty much anyone building a P775 system these days would spend a bit more than $100... and somethings really weird with this commenting thing cos i can't read what i'm typing... it just ... doesnt fill the box? just when i type something it instantly goes to the left instead of filling the box... but anyway, interesting if a bit useless article.
  • 5 Hide
    cangelini , December 24, 2008 9:42 AM
    FWIW, the issue with text disappearing from the commenting box as you're typing is something I've reported and m waiting for a fix still. Thanks for confirming that it's still an issue.
  • -9 Hide
    rjcorrin , December 24, 2008 11:16 AM
    Yes - everyone has money shooting out of their pantless ass to buy more expensive motherboards. I use a gigabyte Ep35 DS3L and am very happy with it. What is a >$100 board going to give me? Is it just that you want to waste money? I'm guessing you are one of those people who carry a balance on your credit card and lease a Lexus - you debt-carrying phag.
  • 5 Hide
    jsc , December 24, 2008 11:38 AM
    "What is a >$100 board going to give me?

    I have a DS3P becuae i need the exrta SATA ports.
  • 13 Hide
    Anonymous , December 24, 2008 12:11 PM
    I run the I.T. department for a couple small businesses, and the sub $100 motherboard is almost essential in today's economy. Sure I could use a $120-$150 motherboard, DDR3, 10000 RPM hard drive, and all kinds of other things, but I would end up with a system that is only marginal faster in business applications for 3+ times the price. Take one of the G3x or G4x motherboards, 2GB DDR2, Intel E7x00 CPU and 80GB+ HDD and you have a system that will meet the needs of a good majority of businesses and home users. I am personally a gamer and can see the value in the higher end components; but there are a lot of other market segments out there where this makes financial sense.
  • 4 Hide
    gaiden2k7 , December 24, 2008 1:06 PM
    I got a Gigabyte UD3P for $99 during black friday... would that top this list? :) 
  • -8 Hide
    Noya , December 24, 2008 1:27 PM
    I got a Gigabyte UD3P for $84.50 during Black Friday, pwned you ninja gaiden fag.
  • -8 Hide
    malveaux , December 24, 2008 1:28 PM
    Wait, no AMD stuff?

    :( 
  • 6 Hide
    gwolfman , December 24, 2008 1:46 PM
    lol @ rjcorrin's 1st comment.

    In reply: Maybe he already had HDDs laying around of smaller size and thought it best to save money by spending a few more dollars on more SATA ports than hundreds on new 3 x 1TB HDDs. You're reasoning is asinine and self contradicting.
  • 2 Hide
    Tindytim , December 24, 2008 1:47 PM
    rjcorrinDid you happen to notice that the comment box detects your errors and underlines them in red?

    Did you happen to notice you're using Firefox? It, not this comment box, does that.

    rjcorrin"I have a DS3P becuae i need the exrta SATA ports."The DS3L has 4 Sata ports which could easily handle 3 terabytes and a DVD drive. You could have saved money by editing down your porn collection and deleting your stolen .iso's of the entire "Friday the 13th" collection.

    And what about Raid? And all the PC's I've had in this Millennium have had 2 Removable Disk drives.

    Not to mention I have multiple OSes installed, and an extra drive I use for storage (I reformat often). So I have plenty of drives.
  • 1 Hide
    gwolfman , December 24, 2008 2:11 PM
    Ummm, maybe I missed it but I didn't see anywhere that said what video/graphics card was used in these test. Anyone!?! I'm curious because of the power consumption numbers. Thanks.
  • 3 Hide
    cambion , December 24, 2008 2:14 PM
    Attention to detail alert... The MSI Neo3-f has eight SATA ports not, as the article claims, six.
  • -1 Hide
    rjcorrin , December 24, 2008 2:20 PM
    cambionAttention to detail alert... The MSI Neo3-f has eight SATA ports not, as the article claims, six.


    This is the exact number of ports on the DS3P. So, again, what does a >$100 board going to give me?
  • -3 Hide
    tmc , December 24, 2008 2:24 PM
    Though this does give you an what our Taiwan & Chinese friends have in the goodie bin at the local computer store.. you will still want to wait to bu
  • 1 Hide
    tmc , December 24, 2008 2:26 PM
    tmcThough this does give you an what our Taiwan & Chinese friends have in the goodie bin at the local computer store.. you will still want to wait to bu

    Ugh, got cut off..
    Wait to build your system until Q1, Q2 processor price cuts of 2009.. especially if you have your heart set on $ inTEL $ 775 vs amd.
  • -9 Hide
    rjcorrin , December 24, 2008 2:29 PM
    TindytimDid you happen to notice you're using Firefox? It, not this comment box, does that.And what about Raid? And all the PC's I've had in this Millennium have had 2 Removable Disk drives.Not to mention I have multiple OSes installed, and an extra drive I use for storage (I reformat often). So I have plenty of drives.


    /Sarcasm
    Maybe I should load up a few more OSes, Opera, IE (6 & 7) and Chrome to fully analyze the capabilities of this text box. I should probably hook up a raid array (mode 0+1 anyone?) to maximize my system performance and maintain the integrity of my porn collection prior to starting my full analysis of this text box.
    /sarcasm
    Do you get any real work done on that computer of yours? Seems like you're spending all your time loading operating systems, plugging in drives, reformatting, and flipping between your extensive collection of linux derivatives. Get a life dude!! You are a hacker-poser!

    And...
    Merry Christmas to EVERYONE!! (even the Jews)
  • 6 Hide
    orangedrink , December 24, 2008 2:29 PM
    Merry Christmas
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