Asus uses a hardware power management chip called EPU-6 that monitors your CPU, ”Asus” VGA card, memory, chipset, hard drive and fans and adjusts the supply of power for maximum efficiency. At least that’s the idea but when we first received our P5Q Deluxe sample with BIOS 0302 the board was as flaky as anything and suffered from USB and SATA problems. After an update to BIOS 0506 the P5Q Deluxe behaved itself but the Asus Six Engine utility refused to run. When we took our CPU overclocking efforts too far the BIOS got corrupted on two occasions and the DieHard BIOS had to save the day. Then Asus hit us with BIOS 0702 which adds some overclocking features and which seemed like a distinct improvement however Asus spoiled things by including a screenshot showing a 600MHz front side bus on the P5Q Deluxe and a link to evidence that some bloke had gone even further to 625MHz using a standard Intel heatsink – Blimey!
We installed our trusty Core 2 Extreme QX9650 (yes it’s a quad core rather than a dual core) along with 2GB of devilishly fast Kingston KHX9600 DDR2 memory and got to work.
The first thing to note is that at standard clock speeds the P5Q Deluxe delivers marginally less performance than the MSI P45 Diamond. Secondly no matter what we did with the CPU multiplier the front side bus wouldn’t go above 460MHz and remain stable. Asus included a BIOS profile that was supposed to deliver the 600MHz front side bus so we loaded it up and were able to see that the power settings were far from dramatic.
The CPU Voltage remained at the 1.35V we were already using, CPU PLL Voltage rose to 1.8V, FSB Termination Voltage to 1.4V and NB Voltage to 1.4V. The settings actually dropped the DRAM Voltage to 2.1V so we had to raise it to 2.3V as this is what Kingston say you should use. Despite all that we were unable to raise the front side bus speed but we could see that power consumption went up a notch.
There was another wrinkle as our efforts to overclock to 500MHz, 550MHz and 600MHz all failed and the system refused to POST. When we cycled the power the system restarted to allow us to correct the ludicrous clock settings in the BIOS and then it was happy to start Windows. Somewhere along the line this fun and games broke Windows Vista and both our network adapter and audio hardware vanished. The drivers weren’t broken or faulty – the devices simply vanished from System Properties and we couldn’t get them using System Restore, repair Windows or a reinstallation of chipset drivers.
Make no mistake about it, if you overclock your P5Q Deluxe and use sane settings you’ll be fine. We inflicted these troubles upon ourselves because we tried to follow the instructions that were sent by Asus. Ironic? We think so.
The P5Q Deluxe is very close to being a fine gaming motherboard with a decent layout. However, it feels like it needs more a little more BIOS development to get up to scratch in the performance department and the third graphics slot is a complete waste of space.