The Best of Both Worlds: Asus PC-DL with 875P Chipset for Intel's Xeon

Conclusion: More Performance For A PCI-X Price

If this article has only one message for Intel, it is this: we need a faster Xeon chipset. We don't have to look any further than the example set by Asus: the company designed its own Xeon board with the fastest desktop chipset on the market.

In many benchmarks, the 1-megaByte Xeon at 3.06 GHz can almost hold its own against the faster Pentium 4 3.20 GHz. In memory-intensive benchmarks, however, the Xeon system is not even on a par with the Athlon XP 3200+, which can draw on its 200 MHz memory clock and dual-channel DDR. In this case, though, the PC-DL's asynchronous memory clock is most certainly ensuring that the performance improvement is much less than you might imagine from just looking at the numbers.

In standard workstation benchmarks like MainConcept (MPEG-2-Encoding), Cinema 4D XL, Lightwave, 3DStudio Max and SPECviewperf, however, the Xeon makes up for its gap with the 875P chipset. Asus also scores better in the gaming benchmarks, although it is still not as fast as the Athlon XP 3200+ or the Pentium 4 3.2 GHz systems. You'll find a most dramatic improvement in performance in the file-compression benchmark with WinRAR 3.2.

Since the synthetic benchmarks (PC Mark 2002, Sandra 2003) give the PC-DL better marks than the test system with the E7505, you can also expect improvements in standard server applications.

Of course, this board isn't designed to handle extremely complex applications, as it doesn't have the fast PCI-X slots nor the DIMM expansion slots to add to your memory. After all, 4 GB of RAM are nothing for large database servers, large-format image processing, CAD depictions of an entire car, or similar applications.

But for the bulk of applications (graphics, video) and for all-purpose servers, this board is currently the cat's meow. With its gigabit Ethernet, high performance and relatively low price (not least thanks to its unbuffered memory), it offers a value that other boards would be hard-pressed to beat.

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