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11-Way P45 Motherboard Shootout

11-Way P45 Motherboard Shootout
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When Intel released its mainstream P45 Express chipset, the biggest news was that it supported PCI Express 2.0. Formerly available from Intel only on high-end X38 and X48 motherboards, many of us still failed to understand the significance of this bandwidth-doubling technology to current-generation hardware. After all, the first-generation x16 slots found on P35 Express motherboards are still fast enough for any graphics card, so why bother updating ?

In order to truly understand how important PCI Express 2.0 is to the (upper) mainstream gaming market, one has to consider the P45 Express northbridge’s other key feature : its ability to split those sixteen lanes into two x8 pathways.

The ability to run two PCI Express graphics cards in x8 mode hasn’t been available from Intel since the days of its 975X chipset. Dual-graphics P965 and P35 motherboards usually relied on x4 pathways for the second slot, starving the second card with a lowly 2 GB/s transfer rate. By allowing its 16 PCI Express pathways to be divided into two x8-mode slots, the P45 Express can now deliver the same 8 GB/s bandwidth to two graphics cards that its P35 predecessor could deliver to only one.

Other updates to the P45 Express technology, such as the ability to support a total of 16GB RAM rather than the 8GB of the P35 Express, are far less significant to the majority of its mainstream/performance market. In fact, those who would never even consider using Crossfire technology might prefer to save some money by purchasing a less-expensive P35 motherboard, as implied in our earlier P45 Express technology overview

Given that the P45 Express’ major features target gaming enthusiasts, it comes as no surprise that many manufacturers have chosen this mainstream part as the basis for reduced-cost, high-end products. Others have chosen to use only a minimum number of high-end features to bring added value to the budget/performance market. Today’s eleven motherboards represent that range of products bound by these philosophies.

Summary
  1. Introduction
  2. ASRock P45R2000-WiFi
  3. P45R2000-WiFi Onboard Devices
  4. P45R2000-WiFi BIOS And Overclocking
  5. P45R2000-WiFi Software And Accessories
  6. ASRock P45TS-R
  7. P45TS-R Onboard Devices
  8. P45TS-R BIOS And Overclocking
  9. P45TS-R Software And Accessories
  10. Asus Maximus II Formula
  11. Maximus II Formula Onboard Devices
  12. Maximus II Formula BIOS And Overclocking
  13. Maximus II Formula Software And Accessories
  14. Asus P5Q Deluxe
  15. P5Q Deluxe Onboard Devices
  16. P5Q Deluxe BIOS And Overclocking
  17. P5Q Deluxe Software And Accessories
  18. Biostar TSeries TP45 HP
  19. TP45 HP Onboard Devices
  20. TP45 HP BIOS And Overclocking
  21. TP45 HP Software And Accessories
  22. Biostar TPower i45
  23. TPower i45 Onboard Devices
  24. TPower i45 BIOS And Overclocking
  25. TPower i45 Software And Accessories
  26. ECS Black Series P45T-A
  27. P45T-A Onboard Devices
  28. P45T-A BIOS And Overclocking
  29. P45T-A Software And Accessories
  30. Gigabyte GA-EP45-DQ6
  31. EP45-DQ6 Onboard Devices
  32. EP45-DQ6 BIOS And Overclocking
  33. EP45-DQ6 Software And Accessories
  34. Jetway HI04
  35. HI04 Onboard Devices
  36. HI04 BIOS And Overclocking
  37. HI04 Software And Accessories
  38. MSI P45 Platinum
  39. P45 Platinum Onboard Devices
  40. P45 Platinum BIOS And Overclocking
  41. P45 Platinum Software And Accessories
  42. MSI P45D3 Platinum
  43. P45 D3 Platinum BIOS And Overclocking
  44. P45D3 Platinum Software And Accessories
  45. Test Hardware
  46. Benchmark Configuration
  47. Benchmark Results: 3D Games
  48. Benchmark Results: Applications
  49. Benchmark Results: Video Encoding And Synthetics
  50. Performance Analysis
  51. Onboard Audio Quality
  52. Power Consumption And Temperature
  53. Overclocking
  54. Conclusion
Display 55 Comments.
  • 1 Hide
    nickchalk , August 25, 2008 9:19 AM
    Where are the lower price P45 M/B ?
    Asus P5Q pro is out for €110 and P5Q deluxe for €165 the price difference is about 70$ in Greece.
  • 5 Hide
    nihility , August 25, 2008 11:41 AM
    51 pages... You won't be upset if I read just the last 3 pages right?
  • 1 Hide
    Proximon , August 25, 2008 12:18 PM
    I suppose I can get some good from having read this. Did you get paid by the word? Maybe next time you could just put together a complete features chart so that we can have some convenient comparison? You know, so someone could go to a chart and see at a glance which boards had eSATA or firewire, or 8 USB.

  • 5 Hide
    JPForums , August 25, 2008 12:31 PM
    I'd rather have the overabundance of information than a lack of information. Presentation could use a little refining (I.E. comparison charts and the likes), but having the relevant information available at least is a good thing.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 25, 2008 12:55 PM
    the introduction and specifics are nice, the comparision isn't. so, why don't you test with an 8500 or qx9650? 6850 are outdated... and a mobo handling a c2d doesn't mean it can handle a quad too, see P5K for example (it stinks when it comes to a q6600).
  • 2 Hide
    Crashman , August 25, 2008 1:57 PM
    procithe introduction and specifics are nice, the comparision isn't. so, why don't you test with an 8500 or qx9650? 6850 are outdated... and a mobo handling a c2d doesn't mean it can handle a quad too, see P5K for example (it stinks when it comes to a q6600).


    Tom's Hardware wants the performance of current articles to reflect that of recent articles, so a "standard test platform" was chosen a while ago. It will get updated, but probably not before the new socket becomes widely available.
  • 3 Hide
    zenmaster , August 25, 2008 3:23 PM
    I would have liked to see something such as a P35 and an X48 as controls to help analyze the P45 Performance.

    In otherwords, What is the P45 Gaining me over the older P35.
    What would I gain by going to the X48. (Or Lose)
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , August 25, 2008 3:26 PM
    zenmasterI would have liked to see something such as a P35 and an X48 as controls to help analyze the P45 Performance.In otherwords, What is the P45 Gaining me over the older P35.What would I gain by going to the X48. (Or Lose)

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-p45-chipset,1961.html
  • -6 Hide
    johnbilicki , August 25, 2008 3:47 PM
    The first 17 pages were filled with nothing but junk from ASUS. Do us a favor: don't even bother featuring or *MENTIONING* anything for any reason from a company that refuses to RMA 200-400 dollar brand new motherboards with anything other then used and usually broken junk. It destroyed my enthusiasm for the article.
  • -1 Hide
    dobby , August 25, 2008 3:59 PM
    nickchalkWhere are the lower price P45 M/B ?Asus P5Q pro is out for €110 and P5Q deluxe for €165 the price difference is about 70$ in Greece.


    the p5q PRo is a p43 board, i should know i have one
  • 2 Hide
    dobby , August 25, 2008 4:03 PM
    johnbilickiThe first 17 pages were filled with nothing but junk from ASUS. Do us a favor: don't even bother featuring or *MENTIONING* anything for any reason from a company that refuses to RMA 200-400 dollar brand new motherboards with anything other then used and usually broken junk. It destroyed my enthusiasm for the article.


    if you RMA through your Vendor then you get a new one, which BTW most big vendors dont even check to see whether the part is broken.

    also this article is good, way better than other recent articles especially mac orinated ones) what would be good though is a big summary table. also if the charts where updated.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , August 25, 2008 4:33 PM
    "the p5q PRo is a p43 board, i should know i have one"

    Funny, so do i and it's a p45.
  • 1 Hide
    Shadow703793 , August 25, 2008 4:48 PM
    You forgot the EP45-DS3L. :(  . Also why include cr@ppy brands (ie JetWay) any ways?
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , August 25, 2008 5:22 PM
    johnbilickiThe first 17 pages were filled with nothing but junk from ASUS. Do us a favor: don't even bother featuring or *MENTIONING* anything for any reason from a company that refuses to RMA 200-400 dollar brand new motherboards with anything other then used and usually broken junk. It destroyed my enthusiasm for the article.


    Lies. The first two motherboards were from ASRock. The two companies are not the same, regardless of any ties they may have.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , August 25, 2008 5:23 PM
    nickchalkWhere are the lower price P45 M/B ?Asus P5Q pro is out for €110 and P5Q deluxe for €165 the price difference is about 70$ in Greece.


    There are low-priced P45's in there. The ECS only cost $110 US, which, given the weakness of US currency, is cheap.
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , August 25, 2008 5:25 PM
    Shadow703793You forgot the EP45-DS3L. . Also why include cr@ppy brands (ie JetWay) any ways?


    NO motherboards were "Forgotten". Everyone got a chance to submit up to two motherboards, Gigabyte sent one. Jetway send one. Any of the other brands you disliked that were in the review, were there because everyone got an equal shot.
  • 1 Hide
    jerreece , August 25, 2008 6:42 PM
    johnbilickiThe first 17 pages were filled with nothing but junk from ASUS. Do us a favor: don't even bother featuring or *MENTIONING* anything for any reason from a company that refuses to RMA 200-400 dollar brand new motherboards with anything other then used and usually broken junk. It destroyed my enthusiasm for the article.


    At least you have a completely unbiased view of this...

    I haven't read through the entire article. I actually skipped to the Conclusion first to see what board was rated as best (frankly that's important to me). Unfortunately, I see the second best, third best, but I'm having a hard time identifiying what Tom's calls the 1st best. It is not clearly stated.
  • 0 Hide
    cruiseoveride , August 25, 2008 7:02 PM
    that msi rocks ass. my next board.
  • 2 Hide
    johnbilicki , August 25, 2008 7:21 PM
    ASRock is a subsidiary of ASUS hence their RMA policies are likely to emulate that of ASUS.

    Don't give me a thumbs down for sticking up for consumer rights. Thumb my comments down if you LIKE getting used and often broken replacements for your $200+ brand new though malfunctioning/broken boards.

    Another problem ASUS seems to create is that it is usually the only company that builds motherboards for the GOOD AMD socket chipsets leaving us to wait for only a very select few (1~3 780A and nForce 4 true 16X SLI are examples) motherboard choices. This is *NO* different then how Dell used to use proprietary parts to lock you in. I LIKE choice and I expect ANY part regardless of it's price to have a NEW replacement for a RMA so long as it's covered under warranty.

    So long as they play politics this way and try to sucker people I will speak up for the less informed enthusiasts. Let's not forget Gigabyte busting ASUS *AND* having a couple articles featured on this very site about it earlier this year.

    My favorite is the Gigabyte board based on features. The article was interesting though what is with the inconsistencies? For example some motherboards have images of the IO panel while others do not. Still it was a good read.
  • 0 Hide
    jimmysmitty , August 25, 2008 7:52 PM
    ^I will agree with you on that part but when it comes to good quality, performance and extra features I have never had a problem with Asus. I of course have been lucky enough to never have one break one me.
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