ASUS P5K3-Deluxe BIOS Changes

In truth, our article today is certainly not a review, and in fact it's not even a preview; let's just call it a quick first look at a couple of new BIOS features and improvements from ASUS. When we met with ASUS during Computex we discussed the new P35 chipset and their products based on it. While we have been very enthusiastic about their P5K series of products there were a few requests that we and in general the enthusiast community would like to see from ASUS and other board manufacturers.

The list was long and ASUS engineering listened intently to us. It was the first time we had unabridged access to some of the product engineers and the BIOS personnel that are typically locked away in the labs when we visit. Sure, we communicate via email or the occasional phone call, but this time we had them where we wanted them. They were out in public with nowhere to hide. As it turns out they were hungry and looking forward to a free meal in daylight even if it meant putting up with us.

One of the areas that we discussed ad nauseam was opening up the BIOS options on the upper end motherboards. The main thrust of our conversations centered on opening up the memory/chipset strap and latency settings on the P35 and upcoming X38 boards. ASUS and others have always manipulated these settings in the background while a few manufacturers have at least allowed the user to control the memory strap settings. It has generally fallen upon the community itself to provide certain tools and programs to tweak the performance of the boards well past what the manufacturers consider being safe.

Safe!? Well, yes, to a certain degree these types of settings are hidden due to customer support and warranty issues. In other cases, they are certainly hidden from competitors as any advantage that can be gained from the "black box" activities in the labs are usually met with monetary success from the enthusiast community with all other things being considered equal between the boards. This has certainly held true for the P35 products, but we are starting to see a movement now with the mainstream board suppliers in providing advanced BIOS options for the enthusiast.

The first beta BIOS we received after our return from Taiwan was from ASUS for the P5K3 Deluxe board that features improved 1T Command Rate performance and the ability to manipulate the memory strap. The current beta BIOS is 0504 and allows the memory strap to be set at 200/266/333 (Quad pumped 800/1066/1333). We have also been able to utilize 1T settings up to DDR3-1860 with this BIOS and the Micron Memory. In the meantime, we have received beta BIOS 0403 for the DDR2 P5K-Deluxe board and additional BIOS releases this weekend from Gigabyte and MSI. We will be doing in-depth testing of all of these BIOS releases and will provide formal results in our P35 roundup. For those who can't wait, we wanted to provide a few quick screenshots of some memory benchmark results with the 0504 BIOS.

Test Setup

Standard Test Bed
Vista Ultimate 64-Bit Configuration
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo QX6700
(2.66GHz, 8MB Unified Cache)
RAM Micron DDR3-1066 (2x1GB) 7-7-7-24
Hard Drive Western Digital 150GB 10,000RPM SATA 16MB Buffer
System Platform Drivers Intel - 8.3.0.1013
Video Cards 1 x MSI 8800GTX
Video Drivers NV 158.45 (Beta Drivers)
CPU Cooling Tuniq 120
Power Supply OCZ ProXStream 1000W
Optical Drives Plextor PX-760A, Plextor PX-B900A
Case Cooler Master CM Stacker 830
Motherboards ASUS P5K3 Deluxe (Intel P35) - BIOS 0504
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit
.

Our test setup is similar to the same one utilized on our earlier P35 articles with the exceptions being the Micron based DDR3 memory and a change to the MSI 8800GTX instead of Corsair DDR3-1333 and ATI HD 2900 XT video card. The Micron memory allows us to clock the memory higher than the DDR3-1500 range we were limited to previously.

We also found an issue with the 2900 XT card during our overclocking test that has been apparently fixed in preliminary testing with a new VBIOS from AMD. The issue we experienced occurred during a warm reboot sequence from Vista or after changes in the BIOS that led to a blank screen condition or a system that would not boot. We will switch back to the 2900 XT for our roundup article if these issues have truly been fixed.

Index Memory Performance
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  • anandtech02148 - Tuesday, June 19, 2007 - link

    what am to going to do with my 7gigs of ddr2 800mhz.
    It was a nice fire sale this season,.. the promises of vista,direct 10 games, anyone want to trade 7gigs of ddr2 for 2gigs of ddr3 when all the promises matured?

    Reply
  • ViRGE - Monday, June 18, 2007 - link

    DDR3 is going to have a really hard time taking off if the memory consortium doesn't manage to push out some good 2GB sticks soon. At this point 4GB is about to become the norm for a high-end system and 4 1GB sticks leaves no room for future expansion plus invites any problems/slowdowns that happens with 4 sticks over 2 sticks. The sweet spot needs to be 2GB sticks so that high-end computers build with DDR3 can use a 2x2GB configuration and leave the other 2 slots open for another 2x2GB set when said system gets upgraded in a couple of years. Reply
  • BigLan - Monday, June 18, 2007 - link

    I don't really think that 2gb sticks is going to help ddr3 much, but I agree that it's going to have a hard time taking off. I actually think it'll take much longer for ddr3 to catch on than ddr2 did, which was helped enormously by Intel's chipsets only supporting ddr2 which forced dell and the big oems to transition early and helped the overall adoption rate (though AMD still stuck with DDR1 for a long time.)

    This time around, oems don't really have a reason to transition so will likely stay with the cheaper product for longer.

    Having said that, Intel has a much bigger incentive to push ddr3 this time than they did with ddr2. AMD showed that they could not move their chips to ddr2 easily because they have to rework the memory controller and the same is likely to be true this time around. I think an early push by intel to dd3 would help them keep the performance crown for a long time.
    Reply
  • TA152H - Monday, June 18, 2007 - link

    Are you sure AMD couldn't move to DDR2? Seeing as how DDR performed as well, was there really any point to it? Originally AMD said they would go straight to DDR3 and skip DDR2, so I think it was more of a choice. Also, the memory controller on the K8 isn't designed well for DDR2, whereas the Barcelona has deeper request and response ques, so should take better advantage of DDR2. It looks like AMD changed their minds in the middle, which was probably a mistake and a waste of design resources since DDR2 pretty much sucks, at least for the K8.

    DDR3 should take off because it's clearly better than DDR2, and it's essentially no more difficult to make. The price will drop quickly and for whatever reason people have everything backwards. Supply/demand says that if demand is too high, price goes up, not down. So what the heck is everyone talking about? That demand will be moderate and growing should help, since every memory company knows they need to make DDR3 since it will take over, but demand isn't crazy immediately so they have time to get it right and ramp production.
    Reply
  • wolfman3k5 - Monday, June 18, 2007 - link

    When will you guys review the Abit IP35 motherboard? It's supposed to be pretty cool.
    Reply
  • TA152H - Monday, June 18, 2007 - link

    Any idea why Everest is showing faster L2 cache speeds with higher FSB speeds? Seems to me Everest is rubbish and shouldn't be used if you can't trust the results, but maybe I'm missing something (although I can't imagine how, the L2 cache shouldn't care about the FSB). Is it just bad software or is there something I haven't thought of? Reply

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