Asus P5GD2 Premium Intel 915P Motherboard
Features & BIOS
The Asus P5GD2 Premium has very large list of features, one that is most impressive for any motherboard I have reviewed. As the "Premium" moniker would imply, this motherboard package spares no expense.
Networking is a big feature of the Asus P5GD2 Premium. There are two Marvell Gigabit LAN controllers and Asus wireless 802.11g all built onto the motherboard. One Marvell LAN shares the PCI-Express bus which means higher bandwidth is available for theoretically better network performance. The box includes a wireless antenna which connects to the back panel - no more need for an extra riser card!
There are a total of 8 Serial ATA connections on this motherboard, and three IDE connections allowing for a total of 14 drives. The three IDE chains on the P5GD2 Premium gives plenty of flexibility to use legacy ATA drives, unlike most other 915P packages that only have a single IDE chain.
Not only has Asus ensured you can support a large number of newer SATA and older IDE drives, they also gave RAID functionality to it all! There are three RAID controllers on the motherboard: Intel ICH6R Matrix RAID, Silicon Image 3114, and ITE 8212F.
The SiL3114C and ITE8212F pictured here are two of three RAID controllers.
The Intel and Silicon Image chips control 4 SATA connections each, and the ITE handles the IDE drives. Having this many RAID controllers on a single motherboard means you can essentially mix-and-match IDE and SATA drives in different RAID configurations. Most other motherboards restrict you to either SATA or IDE RAID, the P5GD2 Premium does not.
Asus P5GD2 Premium RAID Options
ITE 8212F (IDE)
RAID 0, 1, 0+1
RAID 0, 1, 10, 5
Intel Matrix RAID / ICH6R (SATA)
RAID 0, 1, matrixed
As if this isn't enough, Asus also has a SATA port extension that you can mount onto the rear of your chassis. This allows you to hot-swap one or two SATA drives, without having to open up the case.
The Asus-exclusive SATA extender allows you to hot-swap without opening your case.
There is support for Intel's High Definition Audio specification which is a great step up from the old AC'97 codec. There is SPDIF output on optical and coax, and 7.1 analog channel output.
There is support for 8 USB devices, 6 of which are usable out of the box (4 on rear, and 2 on bracket), and 3 Firewire ports (2x IEEE 1394b, and 1x IEE 1394a). IEEE 1394b is the new IEEE1394 standard that is twice as fast (800 MB/s vs 400 MB/s) and is backward compatible with the old standard (assuming you use the 4-pin firewire connections).
To round out all these features, there are some Asus exclusive features:
- Q-Fan2 - specify your fan's speed settings and temperature levels for those fans
- CrashFree BIOS2 - helps you recover from a bad BIOS flash
- AI NOS - overclocks your system dynamically (including your graphics card).
- AI Net2 - reports the condition of your Ethernet cable during boot
- Post Reporter - vocally reports the status of your system during boot-up
Of all the Asus boards I have reviewed in the past, this one offers the most in terms of enthusiast features. For a while it looked like Asus was a bit shy in this department, but I like Asus' renewed outlook on overclocking and tweaking.
Asus P5GD2 Premium Overclocking Options
8x to 28x CPU multiplier (1.0x factors)
1.3625V - 1.5125V (0.125V increments)
DDR2 RAM Frequencies
|400MHz, 533MHz, 600MHz|
DDR2 RAM Voltages
1.8 - 2.1 (0.1V increments)
PCI Express Frequencies
90MHz - 150MHz
There are basic memory settings, as well as a LAN cable checker, Q-Fan 2 which controls your fans.
Asus implements some unique enthusiast features in their BIOS, the most important being the CPU unlocker. With the "CPU Lock Free" option, the user can enable and disable the ability to manually adjust the multiplier. You can go as far down as 8x and upo to 28x. In addition to this, the BIOS also supports 600MHz memory settings for DDR2 RAM.