Asus P5Q PRO Turbo Inverness

Asus supercharges its well-received P5Q motherboard in Inverness with overclocking features. Is it a case of faster means better? Read on the following article to find out the answer to this question.

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Asus P5Q PRO Turbo

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The P5Q Pro Turbo is Asus' Socket 775 motherboard - although it isn't too dissimilar to Asus' original P5Q, which garnered a five-star review in our last motherboard labs.

But, as you've probably guessed, this one's aimed at the enthusiast market, and it brings a few smart tricks to help speed freaks achieve maximum performance.

The first is support for heavily overclocked RAM. Although this particular board is a DDR2 design, it will run compatible DIMMs at speeds up to DDR2-1300 - more than twice the official JEDEC top speed for DDR2. The manual contains a handy list of modules certified to run at crazy speeds.

Then there's Asus' TurboV application, which lets you dynamically tweak your CPU frequency and voltage settings from within Windows. It's a neat idea, and should save time when testing a processor's limits. Note, however, that these settings aren't persistent: reboot and your system will return to the settings specified by the BIOS.

The most novel feature is Turbo-Key. When the Turbo-Key application is running, your PC's power button becomes a "turbo" button that applies a pre-selected TurboV profile. You can still hold it down to force a shutdown. You can thus leave your PC on low-power settings for day-to-day use, then kick into turbo mode for gaming or heavy calculations.

The Pro Turbo also brings ATI CrossFireX support, with two PCI-E x16 slots versus the basic P5Q's one. You don't get any more lanes - plug in two graphics cards and each slot will fall back to x8 mode - but it's still a way to load up more GPU power.

From here on in, though, the formula's largely unchanged from the original P5Q. You still get a lovely six USB ports on the backplate, plus headers for a further six. There's FireWire, two PS/2 ports and four DIMM sockets accepting up to 16GB of RAM. All that's missing is the floppy connector.

The Pro Turbo also keeps the P5Q's eight-phase design, which should ensure that even overclocked quad-core CPUs get a stable flow of power.

But is it a worthwhile step up? It depends on how much use you'd make of its turbo features. At £92 exc VAT, it's distinctly more pricey than the standard P5Q, now selling for £75 and still one of your more expensive Socket 775 options. The extra cost won't perturb the sort of hobbyist who habitually invests in supercharged DIMMs and multiple graphics cards, but for more mainstream shoppers it's a bit steep to move up "just in case".

And while the Turbo-Key system is certainly a fun gimmick, it isn't much more convenient than the software tweaking systems offered by many other motherboards - including the P5Q. It would have been nice to see onboard power and reset controls too.

Still, the target market should find plenty to like about the generously specified P5Q Deluxe, so on its own terms it's a success. It isn't for everyone, though.

System Specifications

Socket 775 ATX motherboard; Intel P45 chipset; 4 x DDR3 667-1,300 DIMM sockets; 2 x PCI-E x16, 3 x PCI-E x1, 2 x PCI; 7 x SATA with RAID0, 1, 5, 10; 1 x IDE; 6 x external USB, 3 x dual-USB internal headers; 1 x FireWire; 1 x eSATA; 8-channel audio; 2 x PS/2; Gigabit Ethernet; 3yr RTB warranty.

Verdict

A well-specified board for overclockers, but if you just want a board for everyday use, save your money.

Author: Darien Graham-Smith

Asus P5Q PRO Turbo