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Asus P6T SE - Asus P6T SE
That's our only complaint about ports and connectors as the Realtek ALC1200 audio comes with both coaxial and optical S/PDIF and you get one eSATA port and one Firewire port on the I/O panel. The layout of the three long PCI Express slots gives the appearance that the board could easily be filled just with graphics cards but even if you install two double slot cards you'll still have one PCI Express slot and one PCI slot available for expansion.
We tested the P6T SE with a Core i7 965 Extreme processor, 3x1GB of Kingston HyperX DDR3-2000 memory, a Radeon HD 4890 graphics card and an Intel X25-M SSD running Windows Vista Ultimate Edition.
The first thing we observed was that the system memory runs at a default speed of 1,333MHz rather than 1,066MHz so we dropped the speed to get a base run of test figures that is comparable with other Core i7 motherboards.
At stock speeds the P6T SE performed the same as the Foxconn Blood Rage GTi and Flaming Blade motherboards that we have recently reviewed, which is what we would expect to see.
Overclocking the P6T SE was a straightforward process and it was a better experience than we expected. The Asus specification for the P6T SE suggests that a number of BIOS options for voltage settings would be missing compared to the Deluxe. Specifically vCPU PLL, vNB-PCIe and vDRAM are all supposed to be absent but we found the options were exactly the same as the Deluxe. Truth be told we wondered about the spec as the idea of a Core i7 motherboard with fixed DRAM voltage is absurd.
We bumped up the CPU speed from 3.2GHz (24x133MHz) to 3.86GHz (29x133MHz) and found that the P6T SE was as stable as a rock so we went to the next step and raised the memory speed from 1,066MHz to 1,600MHz which helped performance by a useful margin.
Those speeds were achieved with a conservative core voltage of 1.35V and we were able to achieve good results by running the system at 3.84GHz (24x160MHz). By raising the core voltage to 1.45V we were able to raise the clock multiplier to 30x133MHz to get a nice round 4GHz clock speed however performance tailed off at this point. The best performance was achieved on the standard 133MHz base clock with a 29x multiplier and a speed of 3.86GHz.
We had previously been able to overclock the P6T Deluxe to 4.13GHz (31x133MHz) so it looks like the cut down power supply hardware does indeed have an impact on performance as the P6T SE blue screened during benchmark tests on those settings - you pays your money and you takes your choice.
The P6T SE is a cut price gem that delivers marginally less performance than the P6T Deluxe but its price makes it very tempting indeed.