Asus P7H55D-M EVO
Premium brand Asus takes features to a higher level with its moderately-priced P7H55D-M EVO, adding independent USB 3.0, eSATA, and Ultra ATA controllers, plus VRM sinks on a brawnier 8+3 phase voltage regulator, compared to lower-cost competitors.
The two USB 3.0 ports will get the most attention from home theater PC builders, who have become the most likely target market for full-feature integrated graphics products. Yet that same USB 3.0 controller might also appeal to compact game system builders, who can ignore the dual monitor-capable HDMI, VGA, and DVI connections in favor of installing the graphics card of their choice.
Our biggest reservation concerning the P7H55D-M EVO layout is the lower-rear corner placement of the front-panel audio header, a location that has caused us building grief as recently as last fall. A swap in positions of the PCIe x16 and x1 slots is somewhat harder to assess, since the design makes the x1 slot the primary expansion point for the riser cards of some low-profile cases. Builders who rely on integrated video will appreciate that the x1 slot doesn’t interfere with the graphics function of appropriate processors, while those who wish to add a better-featured graphics card might be hampered.
Unique to Asus motherboards is the MemOK button, which slows memory speed and timings when engaged to allow easier installation of problematic modules.
A standard set of overclocking controls combined with an enhanced voltage regulator could make the P7H55D-M EVO an attractive choice for compact game system builders with somewhat limited budgets.
All the most important controls are easily accessible from the Ai Tweaker main menu, with Load-Line Calibration reducing voltage “droop” under full load.
Memory controls are a little more elaborate, but Asus still supplies automatic configuration settings for each timing selection to ease manual configuration.
Up to eight custom BIOS configurations can be stored as user profiles, allowing tuners to store a known stable configuration before trying something that might not be bootable.
As with ASRock, Asus disappoints slightly by including only two SATA cables. However, it surprises us by also adding a legacy Ultra ATA ribbon to the P7H55D-M EVO’s installation kit.