While evolution is generally a good thing, in the PC industry it means that no matter how expensive a machine you buy it’s likely to be out of date within a year. In most cases you can upgrade a component or two (a faster processor or better graphics card) and be at least back on the curve, if not ahead of it. However, in some cases there are changes so fundamental that it’s worth waiting to buy until they’ve become mainstream.
At the moment there are two such purportedly game-changing new technologies vying for our consideration: USB 3.0 (an upgrade from USB2) and SATA 6Gb/s (the sequel to SATA 3Gb/s, unofficially and more popularly known as SATA II). One of the first motherboards to offer both is the Asus P7P55D-E Premium, which is very similar to the Award-winning P7P55D Deluxe. Is it the motherboard to get if you want a future-proof start to your next PC? Read on to find out.
Just as with the Deluxe version, you get an impressive bundle, which in addition to an SLI video card bridge and cables includes a bracket offering twin USB 2 ports and an eSATA port. The highlight though is the same wired overclocking remote as found with the P7P55D Deluxe. We'll talk more about that later, though.
Onto the motherboard, visually it features the same attractive mixture of blues, white and black that made the P7P55D such a looker, though personally I find the MSI P55 GD65 is still the champion in this regard. The Asus also sports an identical cooling setup to its predecessor, which is no bad thing.
As the name suggests, this board is based on Intel’s P55 chipset, compatible with socket 1156 Core i3, i5, and i7 processors. Beside the socket reside four dual-channel memory slots, colour coded to show which channel's which. These can take up to 16GB of DDR3 memory running at up to an impressive overclocked 2,200MHz, with a hardware switch above the slots changing maximum memory voltage from two to 2.5 volts. Another feature unique to high-end Asus boards is the small MemOK! button, which supposedly solves memory issues by synchronising “any memory”.
For drive connectivity there’s a single, angled EIDE connector though thankfully no sign of one for a floppy drive. The SATA ports next to it display the first significant change from predecessors; where the P7P55D Deluxe offered eight SATA 3GB/s ports there are now six blue (four angled and two straight) standard SATA 3Gb/s from the motherboard’s Intel controller, joined by two angled grey SATA 6Gb/s ports from a Marvel controller.
Two SATA 6Gb/s cables are provided, but these are essentially identical to the older SATA 3Gb/s (revision 2.6) ones - except that because of the newer standard’s increased sensitivity to attenuation and jitter due to its higher data frequencies, cable length is limited to one metre.