Asus use the AMI BIOS on the P5K Deluxe, and we flashed from the included version to 0404 before examining the BIOS in detail. Just a side note here, Asus have made the BIOS for the P5K Deluxe a multi-language BIOS.
I have to say the P5K BIOS is very nice to use, and a comfortable place to tweak in. There are plenty of options, but only a few that might leave you wondering what they do.
The first page gives you your general system time, floppy and disk setup and a sub menu for SATA configuration. You can also see a System Information page here. The SATA sub menu gives you options for RAID of the ICH9R controller as well as other standard hard disk settings.
The advanced page offers you a few sub menus, the first of which being the all important Jumperfree menu where you dictate your system settings for standard and overclocking. USB has a menu all of its own, with a further CPU Configuration menu, Chipset, Peripherals and PCIPnP menu.
Going back to the Jumperfree menu we can the many options used for overclocking. It's quite a list, and it's great that it's all in one place. CPU Ratio, FSB/PCIe/DRAM Frequency options as well as DRAM timing and Static Read options start the list. CPU frequency is set by manually typing in the FSB you desire, saving you the need to scroll through a huge list of numbers. Settings are from 200-800. For memory options we have (deep breath) CAS Latency, RAS to CAS Delay, RAS Precharge, RAS Activate to Precharge, TWR (Write Recovery Time), TRFC (Row Refresh Cycle Time), TWTR (Write to Read Timing), TRRD (Row Active to Row Active Delay), and TRTP (Precharge Time). Inhale. The next two options are a little cryptic; the Transaction Booster and Clock Over-Charging Mode. We had some instability at higher levels of overclocking with the Booster and frankly we saw no noticeable difference in performance; YMMV. Voltages follow, with options for controlling CPU, DIMM, FSB, Northbridge and Southbridge.
I'm going to skip the USB page for a minute and jump to the next in the Advanced list; the CPU Configuration. Here you can set the C1E status, CPU Ratio, Vanderpool (Virtualization) Technology and Speedstep among others.
Ok, back to the USB page and as you would expect, here you can set the various USB options the board offers, including legacy support. The Onboard Peripherals page allows you enable/disable/set the various LAN, audio and related options. Of note is that while a serial port is not included on the rear I/O Panel, a header on the motherboard is provided and an option for settings in this menu. Basic settings for the JMicron controller are also here. The final PCIPnP has one option only, the Plug'n'Play OS option.
The Power menu offers you your power settings and the all important hardware monitor is here too. More than just monitoring fan speeds and temperatures, this menu also lets you enable or disable Q-Fan support for each fan.
The boot menu allows you to set your options for boot up, adjust which devices to boot from and in which order. The tools menu has two entries, the first being Asus OC Profile. O.C. Profile allows you to save up to 2 profiles within the BIOS and further profiles on a hard disk or other storage device connected to the system via the 'Start O.C. Profile' utility menu. Note that this utility supports FAT32 only.
AI Net will test your network cables during boot up, or it can be disabled (the default) if you wish. You may also choose to update your BIOS from within the BIOS with the EZ Flash option.
One thing that grabs you with this BIOS is that despite being packed full of options, it's pretty easy to use, regardless of your level of computer experience. I would have to say that it is probably one of the best BIOS setups I've seen, and it's wonderful that it is so easy to use, so easy to navigate, able to save BIOS configurations and even flash the BIOS from within the BIOS. We like powerful and we like easy, something this BIOS offers both of.
Ok, rant mode on. The JMicron controller. Anyone else who has had trouble with optical drives connected to a JMicron controller will no doubt feel my pain, but of the 6 optical drives I tried to connect via IDE, I was only ever able to get 3 working, and that was after much swearing, cursing, software version installations and re installations, half burnt DVD's and other tweaking before a singular option in the BIOS solved my problem for my main 2 IDE optical drives. Looking back, it was pretty stupid of me not to check BIOS options, but I was convinced I had a software problem related to Vista and drivers as I had better luck in XP with burning DVD's. It wasn't till I started plugging in other drives I realized the controller wasn't even recognizing half of them. When I reset the controller from IDE to AHCI, the 2 main drives I use, an Aopen 52x CDRW and an old Pioneer 8x DVD-RW started to work flawlessly. Some folks have also mentioned that SATA optical drives connected to the black JMicron headers have hindered overclocking. Reading around the net, it would seem this controller has caused more than a few headaches in regards to optical drives so be warned, you could be in for some fun times.
Test Setup: Intel E6420 @ 2.13GHz, 2x 1GB Patriot PC2-6400, HIS HD 2600 Pro, Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit.
For comparison we will be using the previously reviewed MSI P6N Sli Platinum 650i based motherboard. While not exactly comparable, they are pretty close in the market place in that both are aimed at the high-middle area.
Test Software is as follows:
- Our standard synthetic suite gets an upgrade. We like to use Sandra (System Analyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) to collect some numbers as a base. The numbers collected are consistent and are easily comparable between systems during tests.
- A good indicator of CPU/Motherboard performance is PiFast version 4.2, by Xavier Gourdon. We used a computation of 10000000 digits of Pi, Chudnovsky method, 1024 K FFT, and no disk memory. Note that lower scores are better, and times are in seconds.
- CDex v170b2 was used to convert a 440.5MB Wav file to a 320kbs MP3. Times are in minutes:seconds, and lower is better.
- We used an Animatrix file, titled The Second Renaissance Part 1, and a WAV created from VirtualDub. The movie was then converted it into a DVD compliant MPEG-2 file with a bitrate of 5000. Times are in minutes:seconds, and lower is better.
- We ripped the War of the Worlds bonus feature off the disk at 100% and compressed the file from the hard drive to 70%. Times are in minutes:seconds, and lower is better.
- Photoshop is perhaps the defacto standard when it comes to photo editing tools. Given that it is so popular, we incorporated into our review process. Lower scores are better, and times are in seconds.
- We run the full suite of tests offered by 3DMark06 at 640x480 and collect the total 3DMark score and CPU score.
@ 640x480, HQ Settings - While higher resolutions tax the video card, lower resolutions rely on CPU and subsystem speed, something that Quake 4 depends on for decent game play at any resolution. Higher scores are better.